Think a kitchen trash can has to be one of the simplest purchases for your home (after all — how much thought really needs to go into buying a waste bin)?
Stop right there.
Purchasing a kitchen trash can is actually a pretty serious decision, believe it or not. The right trash can can make your cooking and general living experience more convenient and enjoyable, while the wrong trash can becomes a headache and a hassle.
So, if you’re deciding on a new kitchen trash can, whether because you’re outfitting a new home or apartment, or your current trash can is looking a little worse for wear, consider one of our favorite kitchen trash cans for 2020.
Best High-End Trash Cans
Let’s start with the fancy stuff. While some of us can't imagine spending $100 or more on a trash can, as is the case with many luxury purchases, you get what you pay for when it comes to top trash cans.
The Simplehuman Rectangular Step Can comes in at $100. The standard-sized, 10-gallon trash bin is stainless steel and, for all outward appearances, looks like your normal trash can. A few hidden features, however, set this trash can apart.
The lid opens slowly (but not too slowly!) and smoothly and can be locked in place if you’re in the middle of a project that requires frequent trips to the bin. A plastic insert protects the can from torn bags and leaky products. The lid fits tightly, opens with a step pedal and is designed to reduce odor.
Simplehuman does offer branded trash bags for this bin, but they’re not necessary.
Simplehuman additionally offers a 10-year warranty to back up its claims of superiority.
Many Simplehuman users report that this sturdy option from AmazonBasics is just as nice, and at a lower price point: $75.
The designs are extremely similar. The bin’s satin nickel finish gives a sleek, minimalistic look, and the lid opens with a step pedal easily and smoothly. It holds 13 gallons and fits your standard trash bags.
It should come as no surprise that the trash bag brand GLAD has created its own trash can. Normally $90, this bin is on the higher-end side, and for a few good reasons.
The trash can is extra-large, holding 20 gallons, but it's not aesthetically unappealing despite its hulking size. The sleek design and black trim, with a matching foot stepper, looks at home in just about any modern kitchen. Users report that the extra size allows them to spend more time in the kitchen and less time taking out the trash, with fewer bag removals over time.
The lid features a Clorox odor protection layer to reduce stinky smells wafting into your home.
If it’s odor control that’s your primary concern, then you may want to go with the highly touted iTouchless SoftStep trash can. Rather than Clorox or a mix of other chemicals, the trash can uses natural, activated charcoal to reduce smells, and users say that the difference is remarkable, neutralizing even their smelliest odors.
As with the other high-end trash cans on this list, the $100 iTouchless bin isn't actually touchless, but it is hands-free. It features a stainless steel design and foot pedal system that smoothly and quietly opens the lid with just a tap.
At around $70, this automatic trash can from NINESTARS does a lot for the money. Rather than using a step pedal system to open and close the lid, this trashcan has an automatic, sensor-activated lid operated by a long-lasting battery.
The trash can features two separate sides, one for recycling and one for regular trash. Each side fits a 13-gallon kitchen trash bag.
Along the same lines, this Simplehuman option for $200 offers two compartments, one for regular trash and one for recyclables. The trash can fits 58 liters overall. Pick from several different fingerprint-proof colors, like a stylish rose gold, to match your decor. A built-in bag dispenser makes emptying and replacing trash bags easy, too.
As with other Simplehuman trash cans, this version comes with a 10-year warranty.
Best Budget Trash Cans
Sometimes you just don’t have the budget for a luxury trash can, but you still don’t want to settle for a trash can that’s going to leave your home smelly, lacking functionality and looking less than its best. If you want a trash bin on a budget, go with one of these favorite affordable picks.
For just $20, you can get a 13-gallon, classic, Rubbermaid plastic trash can that, while not necessarily fancy, ticks all the boxes when it comes to getting your trash safely stored away until it’s time to take it out.
The black plastic exterior isn’t necessarily stylish, but it’s not an eyesore either. The lid fits snugly to reduce odors, and the step pedal allows for easy tossing with no need to touch the lid with your hands.
While Simplehuman may be more known for its high-end, luxury trash cans, the brand does have some more budget-friendly options, like this $40 slim edition. It holds less than a standard, 13-gallon kitchen trash can, but if you’re a single person living alone, you likely won’t notice the difference between the 10.6-gallon capacity and the 13-gallon capacity.
The slim design means this trash can goes where others can’t — in hallways, tucked into corners, under cabinets and more — without being a nuisance.
Atta Ur Rehman, Content Marketer at Physician’s Thrive, adds more about this slim edition. “The perfect choice for small-sized kitchens with additional features that make it stand out among other small trash cans. With its silent lid close, smooth wheels, decent capacity, and a modern look, the Simplehuman Slim Plastic Trash Can is the go-to choice for most small kitchen owners,” says Ur Rehman.
Like other Simplehuman bins, the trash can works with a step pedal. With a little maneuvering by hand, you can lock the lid into place. Unlike other Simplehuman bins, this edition is plastic.
If you’re not a fan of the step pedal system, you may prefer this trash can with a swinging lid. It provides easy access whenever you need it, no locking the lid in place first required. The downside is that you do have to touch the lid every time you throw something away and there’s no sealing or locking mechanism to keep odors to a minimum.
Unlike most kitchen trash cans that hold 13-gallon bags, this option fits 16 gallons. You can get it on Amazon for $35.
Want something that’s ultra budget-friendly? Go with this $16 option from Rubbermaid. It’s as basic and barebones as it gets.
There’s no step pedal and the swinging lid opens with ease. With limited parts (it’s just the plastic bin and then the lid that balances in a groove on top), the trash can is easy to keep clean.
If you want a budget-friendly trash can, can last for years and can take a beating, this might be the one for you.
The Best Alternative Trash Cans
So you don’t want a “normal” trash can? Stainless steel or rectangular plastic bins not your thing? Try one of these alternatives.
If you prefer a hideaway trash can that fits into your cabinets rather than sits out in your open space, go with this waste container. The system is easy to set up and comes with all the hardware you might need to install it yourself.
Just pick a cabinet to dedicate to your new trash can, screw in a few things, set the bin inside the wireframe and you’re good to go.
Once set up, the trash can appears only when you need it, just by swinging open the cabinet of your choosing.
While some users love this option simply because it does allow you to hide your trash can out of sight, others don’t like the fact that you do have to open an entire cabinet in order to access it, making it inconvenient during cooking or craft projects wherein you might not have an extra hand free.
Still, the relatively budget-friendly waste container is worth a try if you’re interested.
Don’t have an extra cabinet that you can use for an alternative like the Rev-A-Shelf Pull-Out system? You can buy an entire separate cabinet to hide your trash can. This option from U-Eway has the appearance of a small, free-standing cabinet with a white finish, wood top and stainless steel hardware.
The bottom drawer tilts out to reveal your trashcan, while the top drawer offers easy storage for garbage bags, ties and other supplies. The cabinet itself is waterproof and odor-resistant, and the top can be used as an extra spot to keep countertop appliances, like a microwave or blender.
You do have to assemble the cabinet when it arrives, but it comes with all hardware needed.
While not technically a trash can, the Bamboozle Composter is a nice fit for those who want to cut down on their overall trash. It sits on the countertop and holds 4.25 quarts.
Made of sustainable bamboo and only $40, it can easily store away all your food scraps in a stylish container until you’re ready to move them on to a larger composting space. (And, when it’s time to clean, just pop it in the bottom rack of your dishwasher!)
What to Consider When Purchasing a Kitchen Trash Can
There are a few things you’ll want to take into consideration when shopping for your new trash can.
1. How does it open?
As you can see from the various trash can options above, there are several different opening mechanisms across the trashcans currently on the market. These include…
- Step pedal mechanisms
- Automatic sensors
- Touch tops
Most classic, budget-friendly trash cans come with a touch top. Just touch the lid, whether you’re lifting a typical lid or pushing a swinging lid, and throw your trash in. While often more affordable, trash cans with touch tops are a little unhygienic.
Michael Murdy, a Food Blogger for the Robust Kitchen, also adds this reminder, “Trash can foster harmful bacteria, and washing your hands every time you touch the trash can, becomes an annoying inconvenience. Find a step-actuated lid, a sensor lid, or a lidless trash can to avoid this.”
Step pedals are pretty popular, even though trash cans with step pedals can be pricier. They simply require you to step on a pedal at the trash can’s base and the lid swings open in response.
Automatic sensor trash cans are less common, but allow you to simply wave a hand or use your voice to open the lid.
2. How big is it?
The standard kitchen trash can is 13 gallons. However, this may not fit your needs. If you have a particularly small space, you may want something smaller.
Likewise, if you have a large family, you may need something bigger — unless you plan to take the trash out once or more times per day.
3. How easy is it to clean?
If you don’t have a lot of time to clean up in general, you won’t want to waste what little house cleaning time you have cleaning smudges and spills from your trash bin.
Consider how easily a trash can will stay clean before making your final purchase. Some have finishes that hide stains, while some come with removable liners that you can easily wash out with a hose or in the shower.
Buying a New Kitchen Trash Can Shouldn’t Be a Pain
While shopping for trash cans is by no means sexy, it shouldn’t be a total pain. Find the best kitchen trash can to fit your needs — whether you need a smaller option, something budget-friendly or a super-luxurious variant — when you consider the options above.
There’s something out there for every kitchen and every cook.
You might also be interested in: 13 Creative Kitchen Corner Storage Ideas
The 13 Best Kitchen Trash Cans:
- Simplehuman Rectangular Step Can
- AmazonBasics Rectangle Soft-Close Trash Can
- GLAD Extra Capacity Stainless Steel Step Trash Can with Clorox Odor Protection
- iTouchless SoftStep 13.2 Gallon Stainless Steel Step Trash Can
- NINESTARS Automatic Touches Infrared Motion Sensor Trash Can
- Simplehuman Dual Compartment Trash Can
- Rubbermaid Step-On Trash Can
- Simplehuman 40 Liter/10.6 Gallon Slim Kitchen Step Trash Can
- Umbra Venti 16-Gallon Swing Top Kitchen Trash Can
- Rubbermaid Dual-Action Swing Lid Trash Can
- The Rev-A-Shelf Pull-Out Waste Container
- U-Eway Wooden Tilt-Out Trash Cabinet
- Bamboozle Composter