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We researched the 40 best kitchen trash cans, purchased 10 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 Glad Plastic Step is a standard black plastic foot pedal trash can. The plastic material means there is no worry of leaving streaks after cleaning, making this receptacle the easiest to wipe clean of any exterior filth or grime. As one of the lower-priced models we tested, we feel the value it presents is excellent.
The one important feature this model lacks that all other competitors feature is the ability for the lid to stand up on its own. This means that you must keep a foot on the pedal while emptying, replacing the bag, and cleaning. The foot pedal also takes some getting used to because it's about an inch higher off the ground than all the others that we tested. 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. It even has a built-in recycling bin, so there is no need to have two separate containers taking up kitchen space. The bins are removable and come with an elastic bag holder that's relatively easy to use. The bag holder prevents any bag slippage under heavier loads and conceals the bags. The trash can wipes down quickly with a nice streak-free finish on the stainless steel, and with the removable bins, this model is a breeze to deep clean. It's durable, has a hands/feet free lid open feature, and keeps in odors fairly well.
While we really like this model, we noticed some things while testing that could be improved. The lid opens longways, so it takes longer to open fully. Also, to access the elastic bag holder, you must take out or balance the interior bin making it less convenient to use the feature.
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 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 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. This model also has a 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.
While mostly good, there are some less desirable things about the Glad 13 Gallon Stainless Steel Step Can. The metal arms that hold bags securely are pretty loud when they slap against the inside of the can. Although the rest of the can is fairly sturdy, the lid itself isn't. While we don't recommend sitting on any of the products in our test lineup, as none of these products are designed to be stools, we especially advise against it with this particular model.
The iTouchless 13 Gallon Deodorizer Sensor 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 contender is an excellent and affordable option 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 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 Amazon Basics and Simplehuman cans.
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 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. A kitchen garbage can is an item you use every day; therefore, it should be easy to use, a breeze 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, 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. 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 are ease of use, odor containment, bag placement and removal, ease of cleaning, durability, and aesthetics. The top-scoring models have the best balance of these qualities.
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 Glad Plastic Step 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 were the most straightforward, had the most simple-to-use features, and were the most practical for frequent use. They compared speeds at which lids opened, how softly and quietly they closed, and how tall and out of the way the lids stood. 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 many features across all models, we found that the Simplehuman Slim Open Top and Simplehuman 45L Rectangular Kitchen Step Soft-Close were the easiest garbage cans to use. The 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 moving it around when necessary. The 45L Rectangular Kitchen Step Soft-Close is quiet when opening and closing and features a large foot pedal that is 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 45L model is close to the ground, making it easy to locate, even when 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.
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.
The Simplehuman 45L Rectangular Kitchen Step Soft-Close and the Amazon Basics Rectangular Soft-Close each received a rare perfect score in this metric. Both receptacles locked in odors so well that there were no detectable odors until they were opened. To test these two 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 50L Slim Open Top, and swing top cans, like the Umbra Venti Swing Top and the Umbra Grand Swing Top, performed poorly in odor control tests for obvious reasons. The convenience these models provide, they gain 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 with a removable interior liner was the most convenient and functional. When the trash becomes too full and heavy to pull out, without the bag tearing, this can's entire plastic liner 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. To test bag slippage, as part of our placement and removal metric, we placed a bag in each can, employing all the features each model offered to keep the bag in place. We then simulated what always seems to happen after you dump something large and messy in the trash by pulling the bag down from the inside and observing if the bag failed or slipped first.
The winners of this tug-of-war were the Amazon Basics 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.
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 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 is exceptionally easy to wipe down with no worry of streaking.
The best trash cans can 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 and the 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.
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 10 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, plus durability, value, performance, and aesthetic testing, will make the shopping process a little bit easier for you.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.