Best Trash Can of 2021
If you're seeking a sleek trash receptacle that can handle your smelliest garbage without breaking the bank, we recommend the AmazonBasics Rectangle Soft-Close Trash Can. This kitchen model scored among the top products in nearly every one of our performance tests. If a bag breaks or leaks, its removable plastic liner makes things easy to clean. The exterior is easy to wipe down with a damp cloth and leaves little to no streaking. There's no need to worry about the bag falling because the trash bag wraps around the plastic can liner and tucks into the can's body, locking itself into place. This system provides the added perk of no plastic bag left exposed. We left sauerkraut inside for over 24 hours and didn't smell a thing, so we'd say the most impressive feature of this model is that it locks in smells incredibly well.
As far as cost is concerned, the AmazonBasics Rectangle Soft-Close is right in the middle of the pack. At half the cost of its closest competitors with many of the same features, we feel it offers a great balance of value and performance.
The Glad Plastic Step Trash Can is your standard plastic foot pedal can. Since it's plastic, there is no worry of leaving streaks after cleaning, making this receptacle the easiest to wipe clean of exterior filth. We feel the value it presents is excellent as one of the lower-priced models we tested.
Unlike all the other contenders, the one prominent feature this model lacks is the ability for the lid to stand up on its own. When emptying, replacing the bag, and cleaning, this means that our testers were required to keep a foot on the pedal. The foot pedal also may take some getting used to at first because it's about an inch higher off the ground than all the others. When searching for the pedal, we even missed it a few times.
The Home Zone Living 13-Gallon is a great model that can do it all in your home. With a built-in recycling bin, there is no need to have two separate cans taking up space in your kitchen or having to walk to the garage to throw something in the recycling bin. Both removable bins come with an elastic bag holder that is fairly easy to use, prevents any bag slippage when throwing in heavy loads, and conceals the bag. This can also wipes down quickly with a nice streak-free finish on the stainless steel, and paired with the removable bins, makes this model a breeze to deep clean. It's durable, has a hands/feet free lid open mechanic, and keeps in odors fairly well.
While we really like this model, we noticed a few things while testing that could be improved. Since this is a longer model, the foot pedal doesn't feel responsive, making the lid open a little slower than other models. Next, we found that to have access to the elastic bag holder, you have to take out or balance the interior bin making it less convenient to use the feature.
Do you like having friends over? Do you like compliments? If so, then this model is for you because it's sure to elicit a few compliments. Besides being gorgeous (can we say a trash can is gorgeous? Okay, we did), it locks in odor as well as the 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 can for easy bag replacement. It features a large foot pedal that extends across the entire front of the can for easy access.
The simplehuman 45l Rectangular Kitchen Step Soft-Close is one of the most expensive products on our list and has a similar performance to the Amazon Basics, but with a far classier look. If you are searching for a conversation starter or something to elevate your kitchen aesthetic, this model won't disappoint. However, if you want to continue using the convenient bag storage holder, you will need to purchase the proprietary trash bags, which can be more spendy than run-of-the-mill supermarket trash bags. After further testing, we found that the lid can be dented fairly easily if items are dropped on it, so consider keeping it out from under shelves or heavier objects.
If having the bag fall into your garbage 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. Metal arms wrap around and lock the trash bag in place, so the bag will likely rip long before it ever slips down. This model also comes with a trash bag compartment, so the bags are never out of reach.
Along with the good comes some bad, and the metal arms that hold the bag are pretty loud when they slap against the inside of the can. Even though the rest of the can looks sturdy, the lid itself is also pretty thin. While we don't recommend sitting on any of these products in our test lineup, we especially advise against it with this one.
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 some research, we selected this one as the best choice to join our review. This is an excellent and affordable option for you if you have trouble operating a traditional foot-pedal can. It has a built-in carbon odor filter that will help alleviate odor over extended periods 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 integrate itself comfortably into your kitchen.
The downsides to this model include a slightly delayed sensor — the lid opens just a second later than a foot pedal can — and the opening is smaller than the other cans with lifting lids. Also, the odor-absorbing filter didn't seem to make much of a difference in our odor tests. This model was decidedly stinkier than the AmazonBasics and simplehuman cans.
For a busy, high-traffic kitchen where the bag is changed every other day (or more), the simplehuman 50L Slim Open Top is a perfect choice. The can itself is very durable, with only two plastic handles on the outside and an easy-to-clean exterior that doesn't streak. This is a sharp-looking trash receptacle that can handle large amounts of rubbish and has a wide opening that shouldn't cause any bottlenecking when your lunch break is over.
This is one of the most expensive products we tested. It should be thought of as an investment that will remain operational and kept looking good for years to come.
The Rubbermaid Step On Slim Trash Can is the slimmest model in our test, taking up the least floor space while still supplying 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 reasonable price, this contender performed relatively well without taking up your valuable kitchen space.
The plastic lid is pretty wobbly and popped off a few times while testing, but we could always get it clipped back on quickly and easily. The Step On Slim doesn't feature any anti-trash bag slippage components, and the bag was more prone to slipping when we threw in heavy loads.
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 is easy to clean, and if it gets knocked over, it's easy to put back together.
Since you must press the lid to open the can, it can get dirty quickly. If the can is slightly overloaded, the lid also tends to get stuck. The lid also doesn't seal well, so that that smells can seep out easily, and bags tend to slip when the can is almost full.
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 have to bend over to throw something away. The "stainless" accents are a nice touch, but to us, they just seemed to add extra maintenance to keep clean. The swing top can also get dirty rather quickly from pushing trash into the can. The upper section consists of 2 pieces to hide the bag below the lip, but when changing the trash bag, the pieces can come apart and add an extra step to the process.
This model does come in as one of the most affordable on the list, making it a great option to add to your kitchen for its capacity and sleek look at a much lower price point than the full stainless steel models.
Why You Should Trust Us
Lead tester Bennett Fisher is a product developer focused on human-centered design. He tries to evaluate products the way the user would, implementing lessons learned in the book The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman. His focus is on outdoor products like sun shirts and backpacking gear, but he's worked with composites and household items as well. He has spent the past 20+ years working with and using trash cans daily, helping him understand what makes a model superior. A kitchen garbage can is an item that is interacted with every day and should be easy to use, easy to clean, and stand the test of time. We specifically chose tests that would flush out which products will bring more to the table than just holding your garbage — we assessed which models hide smells best and which are effortless to use and maintain.
We sorted through the top trash cans on the market and bought and tested 10 of the best models available. We spent dozens of hours putting these cans to the test to help you make the best purchasing decision. 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 stay trapped in the 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 important qualities of a garbage can and formulated a testing plan and ranking system based on those metrics. The metrics were odor containment, accessibility/ease of use, bag placement/removal, durability, cleaning/maintenance, aesthetics, and bag slippage. The top-scoring models have the best balance of these qualities.
Besides simply holding trash, odor containment might be the most impactful quality of a trash can. After a day at work and getting hit with a rancid smell wafting from the trash, walking into the kitchen is not a pleasant experience. We also believe that having to empty a half-full garbage can due to smell is a waste of trash bags.
To test for odor containment, we placed warm sauerkraut in each model and let it sit in a closed room for an hour, then sniffed around to judge how well each one held in the smell. The simplehuman 45l Rectangular Kitchen Step Soft-Close and AmazonBasics Rectangular Soft-Close each received a perfect score, producing no detectable odor 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.
Accessibility/Ease of Use
Every time you throw something away, you interact with your garbage can, so we think that easy operation is equally important as odor containment. We wanted to find which models were the most straightforward and satisfying to use. We looked at the speed at which the lid opened, 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 the can's height.
After comparing all of 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 sports a foot pedal that goes across the entire front of the can. It also has a trash bag compartment that dispenses bags with a convenient handle on the back for easy movement. The foot pedal on this 45L model is low to the ground and easy to locate, even in the dark. The lid goes all the way up, so there is nothing left in the way of you throwing away even the sloppiest mess, and the soft-close has a delay to help prevent closing your fingers inside.
Bag Placement and Removal
The one thing that we always wait to do until it's a little too full is empty the trash. When it's finally time to change the bag, we think it should be as quick and easy as possible. We inserted and emptied several trash bags from each can to test how long it took to place a bag inside and how much struggle there was to remove a full one.
With a removable interior liner, the AmazonBasics Rectangle Soft-Close won the day as the most convenient and functional. When the trash is too full and heavy to pull out, this can's entire plastic liner can be removed to carry out to the garbage, and the next bag also tucks around the liner for easy installment.
To test cleaning, we channeled our inner child and let ourselves finger paint with and squirt chocolate sauce all over the exteriors before making like adults and cleaning them all up. Points were given based on how quick it was to clean them and how close they returned to mint condition. We also considered the rate at which a can gathers dirt and the frequency of cleaning. On the exterior, the swing top cans needed cleaning more often. We then mimicked a bag breaking and the chore of cleaning out the inside of the can.
We had a few top scorers here. The AmazonBasics Rectangle Soft-Close and the Home Zone Living 13-Gallon fared well due to their removable plastic liners and stainless steel finish that showed minimal streaking. The simplehuman 50L Slim Open Top also scored highly for its wide opening and easy to clean/non-streaking exterior. Finally, the Glad Plastic Step sports a plastic body that was exceptionally easy to wipe down with no worry of streaking.
We all want our purchases to last. To test durability, we knocked all the cans around a little, bent the lids to feel forgiveness, tried to scratch them, and repeatedly stomped on the foot pedals. We determined the AmazonBasics Rectangle Soft-Close and simplehuman 50L Slim Open Top were built to last. The other simplehuman 45L can is a close third, but it scratched a few times during testing because of the smooth stainless finish.
Looking at each can with a bag installed, we determined which model appeared to be the most classy and aesthetically pleasing. The simplehuman 45L Rectangular Kitchen Step Soft-Close is the most gorgeous garbage can we tested. The silver lip of the can covers the bag, so there is no plastic to distract you from its stainless-steel finish.
Nobody wants to reach down inside their garbage can to pull up a fallen bag. And this always seems to happen after you dump something large and messy in there. To test bag slippage, we placed a bag in each can, employing all the features each model offered to keep the bag in place, and then pulled the bag down from the inside to observe if the bag fell or ripped first.
The winners of this tug-of-war were the AmazonBasics Rectangle Soft-Close with the plastic liner locking it in place, the Home Zone Living 13-Gallon with its elastic bag holder, and the Glad 13 Gallon Stainless Steel Step which uses metal bars to secure the bag.
After researching loads of kitchen trash cans and purchasing 10 for side-by-side testing and comparison, we have tried to identify the best models 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 a little easier for you.
— Bennett Fisher