Best Trash Can of 2020
If you are looking for a sleek trash receptacle that can handle holding your smelliest garbage and won't break the bank, we highly recommend the AmazonBasics Rectangle Soft-Close Trash Can. This kitchen model was the winner or runner-up in most of our tests. 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 into the trash can body, locking the bag in place, so there is no fear of the bag falling down — and you have the added perk of no plastic bag left 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 didn't smell a thing.
As far as cost goes, the AmazonBasics Rectangle Soft-Close Trash Can is right in the middle, making it a great value with many of the same features and outstanding performance at half the cost of its closest competitors.
Do you like compliments? Do you like to have friends over? Then this garbage can 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 trash can for easy bag replacement. It features a large foot pedal that extends across the entire front of the can for easy access.
As one of the most expensive products 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 conversation starter or something to elevate your kitchen aesthetic, then you won't be disappointed with this model. 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.
The GLAD Plastic Step Trash Can is your standard plastic foot pedal trash can. Because it's plastic, there is no worry of leaving streaks after cleaning, making this can the easiest to wipe clean of exterior filth. As one of the lower-priced models we tested, it presents an excellent value.
One prominent feature this model lacks is the ability for the lid to stand up on its own, which all the other models provide. This required our testers 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.
If having the bag fall 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 to wrap around and lock the trash bag in place, 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 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, but especially not 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. 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. Also, the odor-absorbing filter did not seem to make a difference in our odor tests: This model was still stinkier than the AmazonBasics and simplehuman.
The simplehuman 50L Slim Open Top is perfect for a busy high-traffic kitchen where the bag is changed every other day or more often. 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 garbage 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. Think of it as an investment that will remain operational and keep looking good for years to come.
Coming in as the slimmest model in our test, the Rubbermaid Step On Slim Trash Can will take 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 affordable price, this garbage 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 did slip when we threw a heavy load in.
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 put back together.
Since the lid must be pressed to open the can, it can get dirty fast. The lid also tends to get stuck if the trash can is slightly overloaded. The lid doesn't seal well, so smells 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 at all to throw something away. The "stainless" accents are a nice touch, but to us, they just seemed to add extra work to clean and maintain. The swing top can 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 capacity and a 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 outdoor products and he specializes in 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 on a daily basis, 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 shouldn't break on you. We specifically chose tests that would flush out which can brings more to the table than just holding your trash — we assessed which models hide smells best and which are effortless to use and maintain.
To help you make the best purchasing decision, 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 stay 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 important qualities of a trash 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. Walking into the kitchen after all day at work 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 believe that having to empty a half-full garbage can due to smell is a waste of trash bags, so we tested each model for odor reduction. To do this, we placed warm sauerkraut in the test models 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.
Accessibility/Ease of Use
Every time you throw something away, you interact with your garbage can, so we think easy operation is equally as crucial as odor reduction. 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 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 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 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 left 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.
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, it should be as quick and easy as possible, so we inserted and emptied several trash bags from each trash can. We tested 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 trash cans… then we 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 returned to mint condition. We also considered the rate at which a can gathers dirt and the frequency of cleaning. The swing top cans needed more cleaning more often. Then we 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 did well due to its removable plastic liner and finish that shows minimal streaking. The simplehuman 50L Slim Open Top Trash Can also score 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 trash cans around a little, bent the lids to feel for give, tried to scratch them, and stomped on the foot pedals repeatedly. We determined the AmazonBasics Rectangle Soft-Close and simplehuman 50L Slim Open Top were the most 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.
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 tried, and without using it, we might have thought it could also have a touchscreen built-in or serve double duty as a fountain. The silver lip of the trash can covers the bag, so there is no plastic to distract you from its stainless-steel finish.
Nobody wants to reach down inside the trash 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 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 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 iTouchless 13 Gallon Stainless Steel Automatic with a heavy lid and gasket keeping things tight, and Glad 13 Gallon Stainless Steel Step which uses metal bars to secure the bag.
After researching loads of kitchen trash cans, choosing nine, buying them, and then spending days testing, 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