The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of gear

Best Trash Cans of 2020

The 9 trash cans tested in this review.
By Bennett Fisher ⋅ Review Editor
Monday July 20, 2020
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We researched the 40 best kitchen trash cans of 2020, then bought and tested the 9 top-ranked models for critical evaluation, so you can find a trash can that works as hard as you do in the kitchen. We compared each trash can head to head, assessing them not only as a place to store your trash but also as a piece of equipment that improves your kitchen's aesthetic. Our most essential testing metrics include odor containment, cleaning, and bag removal. Our findings will help you discover which trash can is worth the price and a spot in your kitchen.

1

Best Overall Kitchen Trash Can


AmazonBasics Rectangle Soft-Close


Editors' Choice Award
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$61.55
at Amazon
See It

Capacity: 40L | Opening Method: Foot Pedal
Locks in smell
Easy to clean
Anti bag slip features
No built-in trash bag holder

If you are looking for a sleek trash can that can handle the responsibility of holding your smelliest garbage and won't break the bank, we highly recommend the AmazonBasics Rectangle Soft-Close Trash Can. This kitchen trash can was the winner or runner-up in most of our tests, earning it the spot of Editors' Choice. With a removable plastic can liner, this can is easy to clean if a bag breaks. The exterior is easy to wipe down with a damp cloth and leaves little to no streaks. The trash bag wraps around the plastic can liner and tucks right into the trash can body locking the bag in place, so there is no fear of the bag falling down, and there is the added perk of leaving no plastic bag exposed. The most impressive feat of this trash can is that it locks in smell incredibly well. We left sauerkraut inside for over 24 hours and couldn't smell a thing.

Simple  effective  this is our favorite trash can.
Simple, effective, this is our favorite trash can.

As far as cost goes, the AmazonBasics Rectangle Soft-Close Trash Can is right in the middle, making it a great affordable option with many of the same features and outstanding performance at half the cost of its closest competitors.

2

Best Performance and Aesthetic


simplehuman Rectangular Step Can


Editors' Choice Award
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$129.99
at Amazon
See It

Capacity: 45L | Opening Method: Foot Pedal
Locks in smell
Built-in trash bag dispenser
Streaky after wiping down
Expensive

Do you like compliments? Do you like to have friends over? Then this trash can is for you and is sure to get a few compliments. Besides being gorgeous (can we say a trash can is gorgeous? Okay, we did), it locks in odor as well as it top competitors. The simplehuman 45l Rectangular Kitchen Step Soft-Close comes with a set of free trash bags and a convenient bag holding compartment that dispenses bags right into the body of the trash can for easy bag replacement. It features a large foot pedal, extending the entire front of the trash can for easy access.

This model will add a touch of elegance to any kitchen.
This model will add a touch of elegance to any kitchen.

As one of the most expensive trash cans on our list, the simplehuman 45l Rectangular Kitchen Step Soft-Close has a similar performance to the Amazon Basics, while looking far classier. If you are searching for a talking piece or something to elevate your kitchen aesthetic, then you won't be disappointed with this trash can. However, if you want to continue using the convenient bag storage holder, you do need to purchase the proprietary trash bags, which can be more spendy than run-of-the-mill grocery store trash bags.

3

Best Bag Holder


Glad 13 Gallon Stainless


Top Pick Award
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$73.60
at Amazon
See It

Capacity: 50L | Opening Method: Foot Pedal
Anti bag slip features
Built in bag dispenser
Antimicrobial lid
Loud metal bag holders
Thin lid

If the bag falling into your trash can is your pet peeve, and reaching into that dark, smelly abyss is your biggest fear, then the Glad 13 Gallon Stainless Steel Step Trash Can with Clorox Odor Protection is what you need. With metal arms for the trash bag to wrap around and lock into place, the bag will rip long before it slips down. This trash can also comes with a trash bag compartment, so the bags are never out of reach.

This model is great for keeping a fully loaded trash bag secure from slipping down into the trash can.
This model is great for keeping a fully loaded trash bag secure from slipping down into the trash can.

With the good comes some bad, and the metal bag holding arms are pretty loud when they slap against the inside of the can. The lid is also pretty thin even though the rest of the can looks sturdy. We don't recommend sitting on any trash can, especially this one.

4

Best for Easy Cleaning


Glad GLD-74030 Plastic Step


Best Buy Award
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$42.32
(6% off)
at Amazon
See It

Capacity: 50L | Opening Method: Foot Pedal
Easy to clean
Afordable
Anti bag slip features
High foot pedal
Lid can't stay open on its own

The GLAD Plastic Step Trash Can is your standard plastic foot pedal trash can. Because it's a plastic trash can, there is no worry of streaking with cleaning, making this can the easiest to clean off exterior filth. As one of the lower-priced models we tested, it has excellent value.

This model is easy to clean and great for high traffic  heavy use areas like an office.
This model is easy to clean and great for high traffic, heavy use areas like an office.

One prominent feature this can lacks is the ability for the lid to stand up on its own, which all the other models had. This required you to keep a foot on the pedal when emptying, replacing the bag, and cleaning. The foot pedal is also about an inch higher off the ground than all the others and will take some getting used to at first. We missed it a few times when searching for the pedal.

5

Best No Touch Kitchen Trash Can


iTouchless 13 Gallon Deodorizor Sensor


Top Pick Award
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$71.99
(28% off)
at Amazon
See It

Capacity: 50L | Opening Method: Motion Sensor
Hands-free
Trash bag does not slip
Locks closed
Batteries and power cord not included
Heavy lid
Slow motion-sensor reaction

The iTouchless 13 Gallon Stainless Steel Automatic Trash Can with Odor-Absorbing Filter is unique, as it has a motion sensor opening mechanism. There are a few others like it on the market, but after our research, we chose this one as the best pick to join our review. If you have trouble operating a traditional foot-pedal trash can, then this is an excellent and affordable option for you. It has a built-in carbon odor filter that will help alleviate odor over extended periods of time, and a locking feature that prevents pets and children from setting off the motion sensor and getting inside to make a mess. It is a nice size and should be able to find a comfortable spot in your kitchen.

The downsides to this model include a slightly delayed sensor, so the lid opens just a second later than a foot pedal can, and the opening is smaller than the other cans with lifting lids. In addition, the odor-absorbing filter did not seem to make a difference in our odor tests: This can is still stinkier than the Amazon basics and simplehuman cans.

6

Best for Office Kitchen


simplehuman Slim Open Top


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$119.99
at Amazon
See It

Capacity: 50L | Opening Method: Open Top
Hands-free
Durable
Easy to clean
No odor control
Not dog or childproof

The simplehuman 50L Slim Open Top is perfect for a busy high-traffic kitchen where the bag is changed every other day or less. The trash can is very durable with only 2 plastic handles on the outside and an easy to clean exterior that doesn't streak. This is a sharp-looking trash can that can handle large amounts of garbage and has a wide opening that shouldn't cause any bottle-necking when your lunch break is over.

This is one of the most expensive trash cans we tested. Think of this trash can as an investment that will remain operational and keep looking good for years to come.

7

Best for Tight Spaces


Rubbermaid Slim Step On


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$32.57
at Amazon
See It

Capacity: 42.5L | Opening Method: Foot Pedal
Slim design
Inexpensive
Easy to clean
Flimsy
Bag slippage

Coming in as the slimmest trash can in our test, the Rubbermaid Step On Slim Trash Can will take up the least floor space while still having plenty of room for garbage. The plastic is easy to clean, and with a simple exterior, there are no extra grooves for messes to seep into. At a very affordable price, this trash can performed fairly well and won't take up your valuable kitchen space.

The plastic lid is pretty wobbly and popped off a few times while testing, but always clipped back on quickly and easily. This model doesn't feature any anti trash bag slippage components, and the bag slips when a heavy load is thrown in.

8

Best Swing Top


Umbra Grand Swing Top


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$17.40
at Amazon
See It

Capacity: 38L | Opening Method: Swing Top
Simple
Affordable
No odor control
Bag slippage

Compact and sturdy, the Umbra Grand Swing Top is simple and straightforward at a low price. It's easy to access and satisfying to use, making it a great college student option. The full plastic body makes it easy to clean, and if it gets knocked over, it's easy to throw back together.

Since the lid has to be pressed to open the trash can, it gets dirty fast. The lid also tends to get stuck if the trash can is slightly overloaded. Because the lid doesn't seal, smells seep out easily, and bags tend to slip when the can is almost full.

9

Another Swing Top Option


Umbra Venti Swing Top


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$40
List Price
See It

Capacity: 62L | Opening Method: Swing Top
Simple
Tall
No odor containment
Two-piece lid

A lot like the Grand Swing Top, the Umbra Venti Swing-Top has trouble locking in smells, but it's easy to use. It's the tallest model in our test, and it is nice not to bend over at all to throw something away. The "stainless" accents are a nice touch, but to us, it just seemed like extra work to clean and maintain. The swing top gets dirty rather quickly from pushing trash into the can. The upper section consists of 2 pieces so that the lip hides the bag, but when changing the trash bag, the pieces would come apart and add an extra step to the process.

This trash can does come in at one of the more affordable options on the list, making it a great model to add to your kitchen for capacity and a sleek look at a much lower price point than the full stainless steel models.

One of the many ways we tested these trash cans (cleaning).
One of the many ways we tested these trash cans (cleaning).

Why You Should Trust Us


Bennett Fisher, a product developer, focused on human-centered design, evaluates a product in the way the user would, implementing lessons learned in the book The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman. His main focus is outdoor products and specializes in sun shirts and backpacking gear, but has worked with composites and household items as well. He has spent the past 20+ years working with and using trash cans on a daily basis, helping him understand what makes a model superior. A kitchen trash can is an item that is interacted with every day and should be easy to use, easy to clean, and shouldn't break on you. We specifically chose tests that would flush out which trash can brings more to the table than just holding your trash; which trash can hide smells and be so easy to maintain and use that it is no longer something you think about but something that you just use.

To help you make the best decision on a new kitchen trash can, we sorted through the top trash cans available on the market and bought and tested the top 9. We spent dozens of hours putting these cans to the test. We tested the moving parts hundreds of times, we got them filthy and cleaned them up, we placed warm sauerkraut in each model to see which one locked in smells the best, and we knocked them over to see if they can handle curious dogs. As an avid fly fisherman, it is important to Bennett that even the strongest fishy odors are trapped in the trash can. The only thing worse than smelly trash when you return home from a weekend fishing trip is the smell of a gutted fish the morning after a tasty dinner. After nearly a month of use and evaluation, we are confident in our choices for the top kitchen trash cans.


Analysis and Test Results


We made a list of the most redeeming qualities of a trash can and formulated a testing plan and ranking system based on those metrics. The metrics are odor containment, accessibility/ease of use, bag placement/removal, durability, cleaning/maintenance, aesthetic, and bag slippage. The top-scoring models have the best balance of the aforementioned qualities.

Odor Containment


Odor containment is the most impactful quality of a trash can, besides simply holding trash. Walking into the kitchen after being at work all day and getting hit in the face with a rancid smell wafting from the trash is an awful experience, especially when you just want to relax. Instead, you have to take the trash out. We also feel that having to empty a half-full trash can due to smell is a waste of resources, so we tested each model for odor reduction. To do this, we placed warm sauerkraut in the test can and let it sit in a closed room for an hour, then sniffed around to judge how close we had to be to smell the aging sauerkraut. The simplehuman 45l Rectangular Kitchen Step Soft-Close and AmazonBasics Rectangular Soft-Close each received a perfect score, producing no detectable smell until opened. To test these two cans further, we let them sit for 24 hours with warm sauerkraut inside, and still could not smell anything in the room when the lid was closed.

The Amazon Basics Trash Can proving that trash odor doesn't have to be a nuisance.
The Amazon Basics Trash Can proving that trash odor doesn't have to be a nuisance.

Accessibility/Ease of Use


Every time you throw something away, you interact with your trash can, and we think this factor is equally as crucial as odor reduction. We wanted to find which trash can is the easiest and most satisfying to use. We looked at the speed at which the lid opened and how softly and quietly it closed, and how tall and out of the way the lid stood. We assessed features such as handles and trash bag holders, hands-free capability, and height of the trash can. After comparing all the models, we found that the simplehuman 50L Slim Open Top and simplehuman 45L Rectangular Kitchen Step Soft-Close were the easiest to use. The simplehuman 50L Slim Open Top has no barrier to put trash in the can, and with no lid, you can play basketball from across the kitchen. It also has nice handles on either side for easy movement. The simplehuman 45L Rectangular Kitchen Step Soft-Close is quiet when opening and closing, and has a foot pedal that goes across the entire front of the can. It also has a trash bag compartment that dispenses bags, and has a convenient handle on the back for easy movement. The foot pedal on this 45L trash can is low to the ground and easy to find with your foot even in the dark. The lid goes all the way up, so there is nothing getting in the way of you throwing away even the sloppiest mess, and the soft-close has a delay, so you're guaranteed not to slam your fingers inside.

The simplehuman 45L with built-in trash bag dispenser.
The simplehuman 45L with built-in trash bag dispenser.

Bag Placement and Removal


The one thing that we always wait to do till it's a little too full is empty the trash. When it's finally time to change the bag, it should be as quick and easy as possible, so we inserted and emptied several trash bags from each trash can. We tested for how long it took to place a bag inside and how much struggle there was to remove a full one.

Built-in bag holders make replacing the trash bag a quick and easy task.
Built-in bag holders make replacing the trash bag a quick and easy task.

With a removable interior liner, the AmazonBasics Rectangle Soft-Close Trash Can won the day, being convenient and functional. When the trash is too full and heavy to pull out, the entire plastic liner of the trash can is removable to carry out to the garbage, and the bag tucks around the liner for easy installment.

Testing trash bag placement and removal with different sized trash bags.
Testing trash bag placement and removal with different sized trash bags.

Cleaning


To test cleaning, we channeled our inner child and let ourselves finger paint with and squirt chocolate sauce all over the trash cans… then we also had to be the adults and clean them all up. Points were given based on how quick it was to clean them and how close they looked to mint condition. We also took into account the rate at which a can gets dirty and the frequency of cleaning. The swing top cans needed more cleaning more often. Then we mimicked a bag breaking and cleaning out the inside of the cans. We had a few top scorers here. The AmazonBasics Rectangle Soft-Close Trash Can for its removable plastic liner and minimal streaking finish, the Simplehuman 50 Liter Slim Open Top Trash Can for its wide opening and easy to clean/non streaking exterior, and the GLAD Plastic Step Trash Can who's plastic body was exceptionally easy to wipe down with no worry of streaking.

Testing the ease as which the trash cans can be wiped clean.
Testing the ease as which the trash cans can be wiped clean.

Durability


We all want our purchases to last. To test durability, we knocked all of the trash cans around a little, bent the lids to feel for give, tried to scratch them, and pressed on the foot pedals a whole bunch. We found that the AmazonBasics Rectangle Soft-Close Trash Can and Simplehuman 50 Liter Slim Open Top Trash Can are built to last. The other Simplehuman can is a very close third, but because of the smooth stainless finish, it scratched a few times during testing.

Testing the durability of the trash cans by knocking them over repeatedly.
Testing the durability of the trash cans by knocking them over repeatedly.

Aesthetic


Looking at each model with a bag installed, we determined which trash can appeared the most classy and aesthetically pleasing. The simplehuman 45L Rectangular Kitchen Step Soft-Close is the most gorgeous trash can we looked at, and without using it, we might have thought it could also have a touchscreen built-in or double duty as a fountain. The silver lip of the trash can covers the bag, so there is no plastic to distract you from the stainless steel finish.

If you don't have room to store your trash under the sink or tucked away somewhere  you'll need a model that looks good in your kitchen.
If you don't have room to store your trash under the sink or tucked away somewhere, you'll need a model that looks good in your kitchen.

This simplehuman trash can has a clean finish and will add some glamour to your kitchen.
This simplehuman trash can has a clean finish and will add some glamour to your kitchen.

Bag Slippage


Nobody wants to reach down inside the trash can to pull the bag back up. This always seems to happen after you dump something large and messy in there. To test bag slippage, we placed a bag in each model, employing all the features the trash can offered to keep the bag in place and then pulled the bag down from the inside and to observe if the bag fell in or ripped first.

No one wants to fish a trash bag out the bottom of the can every time they go to throw something away. Top-performing models held the bags in place.
No one wants to fish a trash bag out the bottom of the can every time they go to throw something away. Top-performing models held the bags in place.

The winners of this tug-of-war were the AmazonBasics Rectangle Soft-Close Trash Can with the plastic liner locking it in place, iTouchless 13 Gallon Stainless Steel Automatic Trash Can with Odor-Absorbing Filter with a heavy lid and gasket keeping things tight, and Glad 13 Gallon Stainless Steel Step Trash Can with Clorox Odor Protection of The Lid which uses metal bars to secure the bag.

The iTouchless sensor trash can open while testing trash bag slippage
The iTouchless sensor trash can open while testing trash bag slippage

Conclusion


After researching loads of trash cans, picking 9, buying them, and then spending days testing we have picked the best kitchen trash can for any home. We hope that the messes we made and cleaned and the smells we endured were worth it to make the shopping process for you a little easier.

Bennett Fisher