We researched the 40 best kitchen trash cans, purchased 11 top-ranked models, and then critically evaluated and tested them all side-by-side, so you can find the one that works as hard as you do in the kitchen. We compared each model head-to-head right in our homes, assessing them not only as a place to store your trash but also as a piece of equipment that seamlessly fits your kitchen's aesthetics. Our most essential testing metrics include odor containment, ease of cleaning, and bag removal and replacement. Our findings will help you discover which trash can is worth the price and deserves a place in your kitchen.
If you're seeking a sleek trash receptacle that can handle your smelliest garbage without breaking the bank, we recommend the Amazon Basics Rectangle Soft-Close. This kitchen model scored among the top products in nearly every one of our performance tests. A removable plastic liner makes clean-up easy if a bag breaks or leaks. The stainless steel exterior is easy to wipe down with a damp cloth and leaves little to no streaking. Trash bags wrap around the plastic can liner and tuck into the can's body, locking it in place, so there's no need to worry about the bag falling or creeping down inside the can. Since bags wrap around the liner and no part of the plastic bag is left exposed, the trash can maintains a clean, modern, all-stainless steel look. 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 contains smells incredibly well.
The Amazon Basics Rectangle Soft-Close falls in the middle of the price spectrum in our test fleet. However, at about half the cost of its closest real competitors, but still sporting many of the same features, we feel it offers a great balance of value and performance.
The Home Zone Living Dual Compartment has a dual-compartment design with both trash and recycling bins all in one place. This model has lids that close softly and quietly, carry handles on each side, odor-blocking capabilities, and a sleek design that would fit in any kitchen. The soft-close lids truly close softly and open almost straight up, so you don't need to wrestle with a full garbage bag just to get it out of the bucket. The trash bags also sit securely in the inner buckets rather than in the trash can itself, so lifting out over-full bags isn't a problem. You can just take the whole bucket out. The buckets are also much easier to clean rather than the inside of a trash can itself. This model also comes with 20 scented trash bags and two odor filters and even has illustrated directions in the owner's manual on how to replace the filters and the best way to replace the bags.
We enjoy this trash can so much that we had a difficult time finding anything wrong with it. Well, okay, it is one of the more expensive trash cans we tested, and it is quite large because it has two waste compartments instead of one. If you have a small apartment or limited space for your trash cans, or if you want to keep your trash and recycling in separate places, then this is not the model for you. But if you want a trash can that can do it all in one place, that will look good and take care of any nasty odors, invest in the Home Zone Living Dual Compartment trash can.
The Rubbermaid Premier Series Step-on trash can covers the basics at an affordable price. With a large foot pedal that goes almost all the way across the bottom, a slow-close lid, and a Liner-Lock feature, our testers really like this trash can. Another standout feature is the lid lock system, which holds the lid in place in the fully-open position for easy access while working or cleaning, and then can be locked shut so kids and pets can't get into it. The modern charcoal-colored resin design is durable and nice-looking too.
Unfortunately, the lighter weight makes it easier for kids and pets to push around or knock over the Rubbermaid Premier Series. Then there's also the lack of decent handholds, which presents a problem when you want to take it outside for a deep clean. Despite its light weight, this model is just an awkward thing to carry.
Everyone who came over complimented us on how nice the Simplehuman Rectangular Step Can looked in our kitchen. Besides being gorgeous (can we say a trash can is gorgeous? Okay, we did), it locks in odor like the top competitors. It 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. The foot pedal is large and extends across the entire front of the can for easy access.
The Simplehuman 45L Rectangular Step Can 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 a trash bag falling 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 with Clorox Odor Protection is what you need. Metal arms wrap around and lock the trash bag in place. It is more likely that the bag will rip long before it slips. Additionally, this model features a nifty trash bag compartment, so the bags are never out of reach. Should any garbage spill onto the bin during removal, the Clorox Odor Protection treatment of the lid and lid frame should help mitigate odors by inhibiting the growth of bacteria that cause them.
Though we mostly have good things to say, there are some less than desirable shortcomings with the Glad 13 Gallon can. The metal arms that securely hold bags in place are rather loud when they slap against the inside of the can. Although the rest of the build is fairly sturdy, the lid is not. While we don't recommend sitting on any of the products we tested, as none were built to double as a stool, we especially advise against it with this particular trash can.
Why You Should Trust Us
GearLab has a robust testing process that includes thorough research to explore which products should be tested, then outlining how that test should be completed by breaking down each performance category and determining the rating metrics to be used. We've been testing trash cans, among other things, for many years. 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, 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 could handle curious dogs. After months of use and evaluation, we are confident to help you decide which trash can is right for you.
To help you find the best trash can for your needs, we broke down our testing and rating into six performance metrics:
Ease of Use (20% of overall score weighting)
Odor Containment (20% weighting)
Bag Placement and Removal (20% weighting)
Ease of Cleaning (15% weighting)
Durability (15% weighting)
Aesthetics (10% weighting)
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 has also worked with composites and household items. He has spent the past 20+ years working with and using trash cans daily, helping him understand what makes a model superior. As an avid fly fisherman, it is important to Bennett that even the strongest fishy odors stay trapped in the can.
Tester and author Ruth Bruckbauer has had intimate knowledge of trash cans for more years than even possible. Married for almost 45 years, she raised five children who also have intimate knowledge of trash cans, not that they wanted to. A stay-at-home mother for almost three decades, she is a natural fit for anything household or kitchen-related, not just because she's been around the block a time or two, but because she really enjoys maintaining a home. Most importantly, she thoroughly enjoys having a home that's filled with family, and that is clean, neat, and up-to-date. Ruth's top concern is trapping the smell of stinky baby diapers that her grandchildren cheerfully provide for her.
Analysis and Test Results
We put each trash can through the same side-by-side testing to compare and contrast features and designs. After testing ease of use, odor containment, bag placement and removal, ease of cleaning, durability, and aesthetics, we found the same products consistently coming out on top.
Many trash cans have similar features and appearances, but not all perform as well as others, and they vary quite a bit in price. To determine the best value among the competition, we considered each receptacle's performance and standout features and compared that to each model's price.
Standing out for its excellent all-around performance at a lower price than most of the other high-end competitors is the Amazon Basics Rectangular Soft-Close. This model takes home our top honor with excellent all-around performance. Also providing great value is the Rubbermaid Premier Series with its simple yet effective design and one of the lowest prices in our entire lineup.
Ease of Use
You interact with your garbage can every time you throw something away, so we consider easy operation one of the most important performance qualities. Our test team wanted to find out which models are the most straightforward, have the most simple-to-use features, and are the most practical for frequent use. We compared the speeds at which lids open, how softly and quietly they close, and how tall and out of the way the lids stand. The team assessed all functional and convenience features such as handles, liners, foot pedals, trash bag holders, hands-free capability, and even the can's height.
After comparing every feature across every model, we found that the Home Zone Living 16-Gallon Dual Compartment and the Simplehuman Slim Open Top are the easiest garbage cans to use. The Home Zone Living Dual Compartment model has two completely separate compartments for trash and recycling, with two completely separate foot pedals. The Simplehuman Slim Open Top has no barrier to put trash in the can, and with no lid, you can play basketball from across the kitchen. Both of these models also have convenient handles on either side for moving around when necessary.
The Simplehuman Rectangular Step Can is very quiet when opening and closing, and features delayed lid closing and a large foot pedal that is wider than normal, almost the full width of the entire front of the can. It also has a trash bag compartment that dispenses bags and includes a convenient handle on the backside so you can easily move it. The foot pedal on this model is close to the ground, making it easy to locate, even in the dark. The lid also opens all the way up, so there is no obstruction in the way when throwing away even the sloppiest mess. The soft-close lid also has a delay that prevents closing it on your fingers or just gives you a window to finish discarding trash when moving around the kitchen hastily.
Most of the step-on models, like the Rubbermaid Elite Stainless Steel Step-On and the Amazon Basics Rectangle Soft-Close perform pretty similarly and are easy to use. The iTouchless 13 Gallon Touchless Sensor model stands out for its convenient no-touch sensor that automatically opens and closes the lid. This is a very convenient feature, though this heavier lid makes removing and replacing the trash bags a bit more of a process.
Besides the simple utility of holding trash, odor containment for many is the second most important quality of a trash can. Walking into the kitchen to get hit with a rotten smell wafting from the trash is not a pleasant experience. We also believe emptying a half-full garbage can due to odor is a waste of trash bags and an all-around inconvenience.
To test for odor containment, we heated sauerkraut, placed it in each model, and let it sit in a closed room for an hour. We then returned to the room, perceived the strength of any odors in the air, and judged how well each one contained smells. We also had the joy of containing freshly soiled baby diapers.
The Simplehuman Rectangular Step Can, the Amazon Basics Rectangular Soft-Close, and the Home Zone 16-Gallon Dual Compartment each received top scores in this metric. Each of these receptacles locked in odors so well that there were no detectable odors until they were opened. To test these cans further, we let them sit for 24 hours with warm sauerkraut inside. Remarkably, we still could not smell anything in the room, so long as the lids were closed.
Open-top cans like the Simplehuman Slim Open Top, and swing-top cans like the Umbra Venti Swing Top, performed poorly in odor control tests for obvious reasons. The convenience these models provide is gained by sacrificing odor control, and the trade-off should be considered when buying a trash can.
Bag Placement and Removal
The one thing that many are guilty of doing is waiting until the trash is a little too full before emptying it. When it's finally time to change the bag, we think it should be as quick and easy a process 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 difficult it was to remove a full one.
The Amazon Basics Rectangle Soft-Close, the Rubbermaid Elite Stainless Steel Step-On, the Amazon Basics 50 Liter Soft-Close, and the Home Zone Living 16 Gallon Dual all have separate removable interior liners, which are the most convenient and functional for changing bags. When the trash becomes too full and heavy to pull out without the bag tearing, these cans' entire plastic liners can be removed to carry out the garbage. The next bag also tucks around the liner for easy and secure installment.
Nobody wants to reach down inside their garbage can to pull up a fallen bag. We think bag placement should only be done once, and we expect that once placed, a trash bag should stay put. Several models have a bag-locking feature, which can be critical to help a fully-loaded bag stay in place. Standouts in this are the Amazon Basics Rectangle Soft-Close and the Rubbermaid Premier Series Step-On with their plastic liners locking to lock the bag in place, and the Home Zone Living 16-Gallon Dual, the Simplehuman Rectangular Soft Close, and the Glad 13 Gallon Stainless Steel Step which use metal bars to secure the bag.
Ease of Cleaning
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 trash can gathered 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 Amazon Basics Rectangle Soft-Close, the Home Zone Living 16-Gallon, the Rubbermaid Elite Stainless Steel Step-On, and the Amazon Basics 50-liter Soft-Close all fared well once again due to their removable plastic liners and stainless steel finish that showed minimal streaking. The Simplehuman Slim Open Top also scored well for its wide opening and easy-to-clean/non-streaking exterior. Finally, the Glad Plastic Step sports a plastic body that is exceptionally easy to wipe down with no worry of streaking.
The best trash cans will hold up to the rigors of daily use. For durability, we simulated the typical wear and tear trash cans experience. This included knocking them around, bending the lids, attempting to scratch them, and stomping on the foot pedals over and over again.
While trash bins get an understandable amount of abuse, from finishes that get badly scuffed and dinged to foot pedals and lids that get stomped and slammed, our testers identified the most durable bins. We determined the Amazon Basics Rectangle Soft-Close, the Home Zone Dual, the Rubbermaid Elite, and the Simplehuman Slim Open Top are built to last. The other Simplehuman 45L came in close, but it scratched a few times during testing because of the smooth stainless finish.
While aesthetics are preferential and subjective, some shapes, designs, materials, and finishes are generally agreeable and fit right in with the modern home. Our testers made the most objective considerations possible when selecting the best-looking garbage bins. We think you'll agree that we chose the most aesthetically pleasing trash cans, and you can confidently use these hands-on selections when deciding which one will look the best with your home decor.
We assessed the aesthetics and classiness of each model by placing a trash bag inside, then examining the appearance. The Simplehuman 45L Rectangular Kitchen Step Soft-Close features the most attractive design we tested. We love that the silver lip fully covers the trash bag, so there is no plastic to distract you from its stainless-steel finish.
After researching loads of kitchen trash cans and purchasing 11 for side-by-side testing and comparison, we have identified the best models for any home. We hope that the messes we made and cleaned, the smells we endured, and the durability, value, performance, and aesthetics we tested will make the shopping process a little bit easier for you.