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The Best Kitchen Trash Cans


We spent over 40 hours researching, talking to kitchen design experts, testing with more than 150 trash bags and cleaning out 11 of the best trash cans out there. We crammed in all kinds of food scraps and bulky containers, and we found the simplehuman – CW2024 to be the best kitchen trash can overall. It has a liner rim that makes it easy to change trash bags, an antimicrobial coating and a compartment in the back for extra bags. For this 2021 update, we tested the Glad – GLD-74506, and it has many of the same features as the simplehuman and is our new runner-up.

Our Top Choices

Best Overall



Also Great



Best Motion Sensor



Budget Pick



We spent over 40 hours researching, talking to kitchen design experts, testing with more than 150 trash bags and cleaning out 11 of the best trash cans out there. We crammed in all kinds of food scraps and bulky containers, and we found the simplehuman – CW2024 to be the best kitchen trash can overall. It has a liner rim that makes it easy to change trash bags, an antimicrobial coating and a compartment in the back for extra bags. For this 2021 update, we tested the Glad – GLD-74506, and it has many of the same features as the simplehuman and is our new runner-up.

Table of contents

The 12 kitchen trash cans we tested

ProductPriceTypeMaterialVolume (Gal)Size of Mouth
1. simplehuman – CW2024$$$$StepMetal/plastic11.9L
2. Glad - GLD-74506$$StepMetal/plastic13L
3. Ninestars – DZT-50-9$$Motion-sensorMetal/plastic13.2M
4. Rubbermaid – 1843029$StepMetal/plastic13XL
5. Tramontina – 81200/540$$$$StepMetal/plastic13L
6. simplehuman – CW1897$$$$StepMetal/plastic11.9L
7. simplehuman – CW1950$$$StepMetal/plastic10L
8. iTouchless – DZT13/IT13CB$$Motion-sensorMetal/plastic13M
9. Hefty – PRO-0189$Lid-pressPlastic13.3M
10. BestOffice – TC-50R$$Motion-sensorPlastic13M
11. United Solutions – WB0236 (Discontinued)$Swinging lidPlastic10.25S
12. HomeZone – VA41311A (Discontinued)$$$StepMetal/plastic11.9L

Best overall: simplehuman – CW2024

simplehuman cw2024 step trash can

The best kitchen trash can overall is the simplehuman – CW2024. This beautifully constructed metal trash can has the widest step pedal, plus it has a 10-year and 150-thousand-step warranty. Also, it is the only one we tested with an antimicrobial (and fingerprint-proof) coating, which makes it easy to keep clean.

This model is an upgrade of the simplehuman – CW1950 trash can, and its improvements are noticeable. For starters, it now has a metal lid, holds 11.9 gallons (up from 10), and uses a liner rim instead of a bucket-style liner.

The liner rim makes it nearly effortless to swap out an old bag and put in a new one, which is why it scored the highest out of any trash can in our tests. The liner rim also helps maintain the can’s minimal aesthetic since it flips down over the trash bag and covers it completely. This also helps keep the bag down and provides a firm hold. The simplehuman – CW2024 also has a wide, embedded, and ergonomic handle in the back, in case you need to move the trash can from one place to another.

Best Overall: simplehuman - CW2024

The best-looking can, with a fingerprint-proof coating to keep it looking great. All the features work flawlessly, and it even keeps spare bags handy.

Yet another variation that sets this simplehuman apart is the compartment below the handle for extra bags. It also has a great stay-open lid mechanism that allows you to keep it open indefinitely; just push up the liner rim with your hands until it locks. There are custom-fit trash bags available for this trash can that cost about three times as much as generic because they are thicker, but they aren’t vital. The trash can is so well-constructed that generic bags do just fine.

With its patented lid shox technology, the lid closes so slowly and quietly you won’t even notice it doing so. Most other luxury trash cans (we tested five, which are about $85 and up) have this silent feature, except the Tramontina – 81200/540, which makes a bit of a sound as the metal “clings” shut. Due to this slow closing, you also have plenty of time to throw something away if you don’t want to lift up the liner rim to keep it open.

There is no trash can liner in this can, but we found that this actually makes it very easy to use. You can swap bags out quickly and don’t have an extra part to clean. Another thing to keep in mind is the size of the opening, or mouth of the can. At 125 square inches, this is the third-biggest opening of the trash cans we tested, which is a plus.

Something we loved about this trash can is how absurdly easy it is to clean. A wet sponge took off all of the food and drink we put on it without a problem. No marks or blotches, not a stain in sight. Just shining silver (yes, we’re big fans of the antimicrobial “nano-silver” coating).

Key takeaways:

  • The simplehuman – CW2024 has the best anti-fingerprint technology, making it easy to clean, and uses a silver antimicrobial coating to keep it clean and looking new.
  • The liner rim allows you to change out bags in a snap and keeps the bag hidden at all times, which further enhances its look.
  • This is the only trash can we tested that has a separate compartment for extra trash bags that can be taken out from the inside of the can. It also has optional custom fit bags, which are stronger, cleaner-looking, and fit to perfection.
  • In order to keep the lid open indefinitely, all you have to do is pull up the liner rim!

Also great: Glad – GLD-74506

Glad - 74506 stainless trash can

For this 2021 update, we tested the Glad – GLD-74506 and were impressed by its performance, design, and aesthetics and can recommend it as a less expensive option to our top pick. This model has a brushed stainless-steel body, the lid is durable ABS plastic, and the foot pedal is a metal-plastic hybrid. Although it can hold up to 13 gallons, the trash can has a low (22.5 inches tall), squat profile (16 inches by 14 inches), and could easily be placed in an unobtrusive corner.

The Glad doesn’t have an inner liner, which could be seen as a plus or minus. For the occasional bag leak (depending on the quality of the garbage bags you’re using), you may want a removable liner that protects seepage from touching the can’s body. On the other hand, because the can has been treated with stain-proof and fingerprint-proof technology, we had no problem with wiping the inside clean.

Also Great: Glad - GLD-74506

This model has many of the same features as the more expensive simplehuman. With a smear- and fingerprint-proof coating, stay open/soft close lid, and antimicrobial treatment, the Glad trashcan is a worthy alternative.

The Glad has a stay-open lid that locks into place with a tap of the finger and with another tap, it closes. Just like the simplehuman, the Glad’s lid closes slowly and silently. The lid has been treated with Clorox odor protection, so it’s also antimicrobial and prevents odor-causing bacteria from growing. The Clorox treatment seemed pretty efficient in locking odors inside the can when we added fish scraps, fish wrapping paper, raw onion, and onion skins. We opened the lid, and although food odors were present, they weren’t overwhelming.

Running the circumference of the inner lid are two metal rings for holding the trash bag in place. We filled the bag with bottles and cans, and the rings held the bag firmly. Since the trash bag fits underneath the rings that are inside the lid, when the lid is closed, no extra bag can be seen. Since Glad is a leader in the bag business, it probably comes as no surprise that the can has a built-in bag dispenser. Also, you won’t need to buy any type of special bag; any appropriately sized trash bag will do.

Finally, we tested the Glad’s anti-smear and anti-fingerprint coating by slathering the exterior with food. With a few swipes of a sponge and spritzes of window cleaner, the can was completely clean again. Perhaps the step pedal could be wider than 6 inches, but it doesn’t really take anything away from this kitchen trash can’s overall excellence.

Key takeaways:

  • The Glad – GLD-74506 has similar features to our top pick, but it’s about a third less expensive.
  • Its inner lid has been treated with Clorox odor protection, which prevents bacterial growth and keeps trash odors inside the can.
  • The Glad’s two internal metal rings hold the trash bag firmly in place, and a bag dispenser is built in for easy storage and access.

Best motion sensor: Ninestars – DZT-50-9

Ninestars - DZT-50-9 trash can

Although this was a close competition, the Ninestars – DZT-50-9 won as the best motion-sensor trash can because of its bag holding ability and its fingerprint-resistant type 430 stainless steel. With a 10-inch reach and 130-degree angle infrared sensor, the Ninestars easily and reliably detects your hand when you need to throw away a piece of garbage.

Contrary to what the description on Amazon says, the trash can uses three “C” batteries (not four “D” batteries). Due to its energy-saving technology, it boasts a 20 percent longer battery life than its competitors (so, about a year). The Ninestars uses a top that can be removed without hassle and keeps the trash bag secure.

Best Motion Sensor: Ninestars - DZT-50-9

With a big opening and great bag retention, this is the best touch-free way to deal with scraps.

One of the biggest reasons to use a motion-sensor trash can is to avoid cross-contamination when cooking. Of course, you don’t have to use your hands to open the step pedal trash cans. And if you want to keep the lid open indefinitely you’ll need to touch the trash can, regardless of the type of can.

And if you don’t want to or can’t use your hands, the lid stays entirely open for three seconds after you move your hand away, which allows you plenty of time to get trash into the garbage. The Ninestars – DZT-50-9 has a solid design and a decently sized mouth (80 square inches) when compared to other motion-sensor models.

The stainless steel makes it a breeze to clean and, like the other top picks, all of the food and drink came off both the plastic lid and metal body with just a sponge and water. So if you happen to spill some on the trash can before your hand gets in range of the motion sensor, not to worry! It will clean right up.

It is a bit harder to change bags with this can because you need somewhere to put the big lid. That said, once the lid is out of the equation, changing bags couldn’t be easier. Even though this is a metal-plastic hybrid, it is pretty light (eight pounds) and top-heavy, which leaves it susceptible to knocks by children and animals.

There is a trash can rim liner that helps keep the bag in place, and although it’s just a thin piece of plastic, it does the trick well. The rim liner works in tandem with the heavier lid to keep the trash bags set in place, which is an upside to the heavier top.

Key takeaways:

  • The Ninestars – DZT-50-9 uses type 430 stainless steel, which keeps fingerprints off the trash can and makes it simple to clean and keep that way!
  • The 10-inch and 130-degree angle infrared sensor aids in the throwing away process and keeps the contaminants inside the trash can and away from you.
  • As bag-holding technology is crucial to a good trash can, this is the best of the three motion-sensor trash cans we tested due to its rim liner and heavy lid.

Budget pick: Rubbermaid – 1843029

Rubbermaid black plastic trash can

The Rubbermaid – 1843029 scored fourth overall and is right around $20. Usually, the price can at least help you gauge how functional something will be, but this one took us by surprise. Its bag-holding technology is so simple and makes changing bags seemingly effortless. It was one of the only cans to score perfectly on the bag-changing test (along with our number one pick, the simplehuman – CW2024). Rubbermaid’s clip-in liner technology holds bags securely without tearing them or slowing you down on trash day.

Budget Pick: Rubbermaid - 1843029

A great design, even if it isn't as attractive as our top pick. This Rubbermaid trash can also has the biggest opening we tested.

The Rubbermaid has a monster mouth with an area of 186 square inches. That’s over 30 percent larger than the next largest (simplehuman 97 @ 140). So if you’re someone who likes to play trashketball, we definitely suggest using the Rubbermaid as your hoop. You don’t even need to use your hands to keep this open because it opens all the way and stays there.

All of the plastic trash cans received perfect scores on our cleaning tests and took even less effort to clean than the stainless steel non-fingerprint trash cans. All of the stains came out with just water and the rough side of a sponge (again, even after 10 days of sitting there).

One of the only downsides we found is that the Rubbermaid is light and more prone to being knocked over if it is empty. The lid can also open past 90 degrees, so we suggest keeping this an inch or two away from the wall. On a positive note, the pedal is a nice shiny metal that is tucked in at the bottom, which makes it a very uniform shape and something you won’t potentially trip over.

Key takeaways:

  • The Rubbermaid – 1843029 has the biggest opening out of any trash can we tested and placed fourth overall, even though it is only around 20 bucks!
  • Not only is the black plastic just a few sponge wipes away from being clean, but the bag-changing technology is one of the best we found — in fact, it’s as good as the simplehuman trash can we rated best overall.
  • The clip-in liner technology, along with the stay-open lid technology, allows you to change a bag almost as quickly as you can throw something away.

Other products we tested

other trash cans we tested

HomeZone – VA41311A (Discontinued)

the Homezone VA41311A trash can

(Editor’s note: The Homezone – VA41311A was our runner-up when we first wrote this review. Unfortunately, we recently learned that this model has been discontinued and is no longer available.)

The HomeZone – VA41311A took us by surprise a bit because of simplehuman’s reputation as the top trash can brand, but its stay-open lid function, bag-secure band and cleanability made it our second choice. It also has non-fingerprint technology, making it easy to clean. As far as size of openings go, the HomeZone is the same as the simplehuman above (125 square inches), which is bigger than the standard size for a kitchen trash can.

Both the lid and body of this can are metal and the step pedal is a hybrid of stainless steel and plastic. The HomeZone is one of the taller trash cans we tested, coming in at a height of 27 inches. Instead of a wide and short shape, it protrudes outwardly, going front to back like the simplehuman – CW1897. In order to keep the lid open indefinitely, all you do is step on the pedal so it opens, let is start to close and then lift up the lid. Simple.

The trash can liner is an imperfect rectangle: it has two curved indentations along the sides, which makes it easy to grab hold of and change the bag. However, the irregular shape made the 10-gallon trash bags rip a bit easier because the lid is less uniform, which leads to uneven pressure on the bag.

Practically speaking, though, you wouldn’t use 10-gallon bags in a 12-gallon trash can; it was just for testing purposes. There are also two plastic clips on the front and back of the liner, which keep the bag in place. There is also a bag-secure band (the rubber material that helps hold the trash bag).

Because the trash bag goes around the trash can liner, you can’t see the bag from the outside, which helps maintain the clean aesthetic. The HomeZone – VA41311A is a very sturdy trash can, so you don’t have to worry about your pets or kids knocking it over. Something worth mentioning, though, is that it came with a dent upon arrival. It was a small dent on the body, which came out pretty much all the way when we carefully used a hammer from the inside. And from the reviews we read, the return process is easy as pie.

The non-fingerprint stainless steel is incredible. You can grab the trash can at its base (if for some reason you don’t want to use the handle on the back) and no marks are left. This also aids in the cleaning process. None of the 10 food items we used to try to stain it made a mark. In fact, they all came out with just water and a sponge after 10 days of sitting.

Tramontina – 81200/540

Finishing third overall, it feels unfair that the Tramontina – 81200/540 couldn’t make one of the top spots because it gives you nearly everything you could ask for in a kitchen trash can. Although it is missing the stay-open lid and opens up a bit aggressively, it is under $100 and scored incredibly well on all of our tests.

After all, this is the only trash can we tested that comes with two freshener cartridges, which last up to 60 days. Since we used unscented trash bags throughout our testing, we definitely noticed when the Tramontina was being tested due to these fresh sky scent cartridges.

The Tramontina is yet another non-fingerprint stainless steel trash can that was incredibly simple to clean and performed perfectly in our cleaning test (only sponge and water required and not a mark left!).
This can is what comes to mind when you think of a standard metal trash can: nothing fancy in the body or pedal, it just looks good and functions properly. However, it can open a bit quicker if you intentionally (or unintentionally) step hard on the pedal, so we suggest keeping it at least an inch away from the wall.

It comes with a trash can liner that you can lift partially up and rest on a piece of plastic that’s protruding from the bottom of the can, which is perfect for when you’re changing bags. We all know that person who doesn’t replace the trash bag after taking out the trash. So now they have no excuse!

Unfortunately, one of the key functions in a kitchen trash can is the stay-open lid, and the Tramontina doesn’t have it. As a silver lining, however, the lid takes about seven seconds to close (the longest out of any we tested), giving you enough time to throw away most trash before it shuts.

simplehuman – CW1897

Just like it sounds, the simplehuman – CW1897 “Butterfly” has a split lid that resembles wings, designed not to be held back by countertops or anything that may restrict it from above. You can feel its sturdiness just by looking at it. It’s big and professional looking. The simplehuman butterfly has a giant mouth (140 square inches) and is shaped like the HomeZone in that it’s a front-to-back kind of trash can.

There are thick plastic rims that go all the way around the top and bottom, which give it an attractive overall look. Plus, it uses an all-steel pedal promising over 150,000 steps like the best overall trash can (the simplehuman) and a 10-year warranty. That is pretty tough to beat.

The simplehuman CW1897 has a trash can liner that sits on two indentations in the front and back to allow for easy grabbing. It also has a common sense stay-open system as well as a spot for you to rest the liner while you change the bag, which makes it a painless process. Again, like the other fingerprint-resistant metals, this stainless steel is in fact stainless. All it requires is a bit of water and a sponge and happy cleaning!

As with all simplehuman trash cans, this one comes with 10 custom-fit bags and they fit perfectly. There is a little “bag tuck” in the liner that can either be used to keep an excess bag taught or, as we found out, you can keep an extra bag in there for next time.

simplehuman – CW1950

The simplehuman – CW1950 comes with a five-year warranty, which is fantastic (even when compared to the 10-year warranty that the best overall simplehuman – CW2024 has). Aside from that, though, this model has several drawbacks, including a trash can liner, a slightly smaller volume of 10 gallons, a plastic lid, and the absence of non-fingerprint coating.

Now, these aren’t huge differences, but if we’re aiming for perfection this trashcan leaves much to be desired. For example, more than half of the food and drink left marks after cleaning with water and a sponge. They are not eyesores by any means, but if you’re a perfectionist we’d suggest choosing one of the cans with a fingerprint-resistant coating.

Not to worry, though, there are still custom-fit trash bags, a place to rest the liner when changing bags, and some indentations underneath the trash can liner to make lifting it up effortless. It also has a large mouth for throwing away bigger pieces of garbage and super simple(human) stay-open lid technology.

iTouchless – DZT13/IT13CB

The iTouchless – DZT13/IT13CB is one of the smallest trash cans we tested, which is impressive because it holds 13 gallons (so it has less “wasted space”). As we said earlier, it was a heated race to the top between this motion-sensor trash can and the Ninestars because they both performed well.

However, the “stainless steel finish” wasn’t so stainless. Several streaks were left from the food and drink we put on the body of the trash can. On a positive note though, the fingerprint-proof technology works just fine and it claims to be antimicrobial as well.

This was only one of two trash cans that came with some form of deodorizer. The iTouchless uses an activated carbon odor filter to naturally get rid of odors and it works for up to three months. It’s more of a lack of smell than a good one, but that’s better than the smell of trash. Like the other motion-sensor trash cans, it requires four “D” batteries to operate, though you can buy an AC adapter if you want as well.
Though it is nothing to scoff at, the infrared technology is not quite as good as that of the Ninestars; it only registers from about six inches away, instead of 10. Nonetheless, the technology works and it has buttons to keep the lid open indefinitely as well. Another little issue is the size of the mouth, which is only 76 square inches, making it quite difficult to put larger items inside. All in all, it does the job, but if you throw away bigger items regularly we’d point you in a different direction.

Hefty – PRO-0189

The Hefty – PRO-0189 is the only one-touch opening trash can we tested. This is a feature we were ambivalent about to start but, in the end, the lid stays open until you close it, making it effortless to throw away multiple things. It is fully plastic and all black. And, like its plastic competitors, it is painless to clean. You can even hose the whole thing down outside if need be.

It doesn’t get much more straightforward than the Hefty Touch-Lid. Just press down and the lid opens up. It is a standard trash can that works well for around $20. And at the end of the day, if you want an affordable option you can’t go wrong with this purchase. The lid stays on well and has a locking mechanism in the front, but it is still easy to take off when you need to replace the trash bag.

BestOffice – TC-50R

The BestOffice – TC-50R looks like a shorter version of the Ninestars model, but with subtle button variations on the lid. Because of the lower center of gravity, it has better balance and is harder to knock over. It has the widest mouth out of all the motion-sensor trash cans we tested at 89 square inches.

Similar to the iTouchless – DZT13/IT13CB, the stainless steel of the BestOffice is not exactly stainless. The food and drink we tested with left pretty noticeable streaks on the can’s body from the food and drink — the worst out of any trash can, in fact. So if you’re focused on aesthetic, this may not be the best trash can. But other than that, the bag switching and bag holding performance was optimal.

United Solutions – WB0236 (Discontinued)

Another kind that we tested is the United Solutions – WB0236 swinging lid trash can. This is the old school trash can that we all love to play with for whatever reason. And, though there is nothing complicated about throwing something away in this type of trash can, it can get dirty more easily as the garbage has to touch the lid on its way in, or you have to use your hand to push it down.

On top of that, the United Solutions swinging lid has the smallest opening by far, only allowing 47 square inches of space for trash. If you are not too worried about bigger trash then it’s no big deal, but for most uses this is impractical. This is only a 10.25-gallon trash can, so it is better suited for a smaller household or even as a spare trash can. And even though it may get the dirtiest, it is still incredibly easy to clean as the food stuff will come right off (and it can always be hosed down, too).

How we selected

In order to narrow down our field of prospects, we called our local Home Depot and spoke with Candice, who has been working at their Kitchen Design Center for over five years. She told us that their “customers usually look for something that keeps [the trash bag] covered and doesn’t require hands to open the top.” As such, the “step ones and automatic lids” are preferred.

Another key aspect she shared with us was a mechanism to help hold the bag in place because nobody likes when the trash bag slips into the can. These mechanisms include clips on the sides, rubber bands in the back or on the sides, and, our personal favorite, liner rims (like on the simplehuman – CW2024). Finally, she let us in on the most popular brands: simplehuman and Rubbermaid.

Once we established some of the main criteria for what makes a great kitchen trash can, we then looked to Reddit. The BuyItForLife and Frugal subreddits were very helpful in giving us a general idea of some of the best brands out there for homeware and other specifics to look for. We then looked through some of the options on as well as the respected review site WireCutter.

Ultimately, we found five stainless steel step trash cans, three motion-sensor ones, and three affordable plastic options as our top 11 kitchen trash cans.

How we tested

Everyday use

While it’s important to get a breakdown of all the product features, much of what makes a trash can great is how it works as a whole. So we used each model for a few days at a time to get a feel for them before the “lab” testing. We used the trash cans while cooking meals and hosting people for dinner. We even got our guests’ thoughts — and they loved the simplehuman – CW2024 too. We also did some much-needed home cleaning, which allowed for some quality time with our new trash cans!

During the house cleaning, it became apparent that a good stay-open lid feature is essential. Naturally, we played a bit of trashketball too. Both of our top choices (simplehuman – CW2024 and HomeZone – VA41311A) were great for this because they have wide mouths and are very sturdy on their own. The Rubbermaid – 1843029, however, is a bit light and can more easily be knocked over until there is some trash in there to weigh it down. That being said, it has the biggest mouth we tested.

The automatic trash cans (especially the Ninestars – DZT-50-9) made for an enjoyable cooking process as we slid the excess food right off the cutting board into the trash can without having to step on a pedal. Multi-tasking with a knife is not the best idea, which is another reason the stay-open lid was deemed so important.

To recap, there are really two key features to watch for: A wide opening (the wider the better) and a stay-open lid. Together these make for an effortless cooking and cleaning process.

Ease of replacing trash bags

ease of use chart

Ahh, the holy grail of trash can functionality. If there is one thing that can make or break a trash can, it is how easy it is to remove and replace a bag. Although the mechanisms for replacing trash bags don’t differ too drastically, there were definitely some trash cans that were harder to change the bags for than others.

In an effort to remain scientific, we timed out how long it took to change the bag on each trash can three times and averaged out the time. We used this to arrive at an overall rating for the ease of removal and replacing of trash bags in each can.

Trash bag grip

This is also an important feature in a trash can; if it can’t hold your bag then what’s the point? We tested trash bag grip in a systematic, yet possibly unorthodox way. We started with multiple different types of trash bags (Glad – 13 Gallon, Kirkland – 10 Gallon, simplehuman – Code M, and the other custom bags which are linked with their matching trash can). We then proceeded to “throw away” a bunch of rice, dumbbells, and pillows to determine how well each trash can grabbed each trash bag.

The first test we conducted went like this:

  • Install bag
  • Put in full-size pillow
  • Put in 10 lb of rice
  • Put in another full-size pillow
  • Put in another 10 lb of rice

The second test went like this:

  • Put in 10 lb bag of rice
  • And another
  • And another
  • And another
  • And another (that’s 50 lb total)

bag performance results

For both of the tests, we marked at which point the bag ripped or slipped through if it did. This allowed us to see how well each trash can could be stuffed and how much weight it could hold onto before slipping. (Note: the bags can all hold that much weight, so if the bag ripped it was due to the uneven disbursement of pressure around the rim of the trash can. For example, this odd shape on the simplehuman – CW1897 rim led to some tearing.)

Trash can opening

We first looked at the dimensions of each opening, or mouth, because that determines what you can fit into your trash can and what you cannot. The area of the mouth, as well as the shape, were taken into consideration when evaluating their effectiveness. For example, the BestOffice – TC-50R automatic trash can doesn’t allow you to put certain things in it, like pizza boxes, because it has a small square opening.

Next, we tested how easy it was to open the lids. None of the trash cans we tested are hard to open. And many of the top trash cans we tested have guarantees that the step-pedals will work for 150,000 steps or five to 10 years. Some of the more affordable options, however, shouldn’t be expected to last as long as their swanky counterparts. Obviously, the upscale simplehuman models are going to give you a more long-term solution than the affordable Hefty – PRO-0189.

Do you keep your trash can pushed up against a wall? We wanted to ensure that any cans with wide-arching lids wouldn’t damage the walls (and paint) that they came in contact with. So we put each can up against the wall and tested the angle of the lids.

Luckily, only the Rubbermaid – 1843029 and Tramontina – 81200/540 hit the wall when opened. However, this only happened when we opened them as hard as possible, so simply placing your can an inch away from the wall stops this from occurring. Keep this in mind if you opt for one of those cans.

Ease of cleaning

spraying and wiping down a trash can

Where there’s trash, there’s bound to be a mess (especially if you have kids). So we took 10 everyday substances and put them on each trash can (both on the lid and side) and left them for 10 days. We then cleaned them with a sponge and water to see if that did the trick. We added soap if there were remnants or marks left. We evaluated both the ease of getting rid of the food as well as the stains they left behind, if any.

Substances included: hummus, cream cheese, BBQ sauce, ketchup, mustard, jelly, olive oil, red wine, orange juice and coffee.

Special features

special features comparison

We thought it was a good idea to include this section because not all trash cans are created equal. We looked at anything extra each trash can had including stay-open features, a deodorizing component and a place for extra bags. You can see the value we ascribed them in the chart above.

Important features to consider

Foot pedal: This is the trash can everyone knows. You step on the pedal at the bottom and the lid opens, voila. Even though this is the most common type of trash can, the types of pedals can vary. For example, some have a metal pedal that runs the entire width of the trash can, like the simplehuman – CW2024, while others have pedals less than six inches wide.

Automatic lid: One of the main selling points touted by manufacturers of automatic lids is hygiene. Though step trash cans don’t require you to get your hands dirty, the automatic-lid advocates claim that their method is still better, because germs on your shoes from a step trash can could get spread throughout your home.

Hygiene aside, it simply comes down to preference. Something to keep in mind is that bigger pets can trip the sensors on the trash cans and open them as they walk by. You can always turn the trash can off before you leave the house, though.

Swinging lid and one-touch lid: Most of us have spent at least a few minutes playing with the swinging lid on a trash can when we were kids (or adults). These require little effort to open, but due to their construction have a smaller opening in which to deposit trash. The one-touch lid, like the one on this Hefty – PRO-0189, is a spring-loaded lever you press to make the lid open. Then, the lid stays open until manually closed. It works well, but you’ll need a hand to open it before you throw away your trash.

Shape and capacity: Some cans have different foot pedal placements, either on the skinny or wider side, which greatly affects placement in the room. Also, their capacities range from 10 gallons to 13 gallons, the latter of which is the most common bag size on the market. Depending on the size of your family or the number of roommates, you will be able to decide if 10 gallons is enough for your everyday needs or not. According to National Geographic, an average American throws away about three pounds of trash at home every day.

It depends on how much you throw away, but an easy rule of thumb to keep in mind is 10-for-two, or 10 gallons for two people. Any home with more than two people will likely require a bigger trash can. It should be noted that even though the capacity of a given can may be 10 gallons, the amount of space the trash can takes up can be similar to that of a 13-gallon trash can.

Trash bags: In our testing, we learned a bit about the different types of trash bags. We found that it is better to buy bags that are too big rather than too small. So, 13-gallon trash bags work well with 10-gallon trash cans (and 13-gallon trash cans, of course). These Glad – 13 Gallon trash bags worked in every test with every trash can and are very affordable at just over 10 cents per trash bag.

Body material: There are two basics materials that make up most kitchen trash cans: metal and plastic, or a combination of the two. Of course, the metals are going to differ from trash can to trash can so the important thing to look for is the outside coating. Take the best overall simplehuman – CW2024, for instance. It has a thin, silver antimicrobial coating that makes it fingerprint-proof and one of the easiest trash cans to clean.

Stay-open lid: This function comes in handy when you need to throw away a lot of things in a row, like when you’re cooking or cleaning, for instance. Some have a little pin you can push like the simplehuman – CW1950 and others allow you just to lift the lid up like the Homezone -VA41311A. All of the motion-sensor trash cans have this function, which requires only the push of a button.

Deodorizer and air freshener: Nobody likes the smell of trash, so having a special compartment for deodorizers like charcoal bags or air fresheners is a great perk. You can always get scented bags, but they don’t always work as intended — sometimes their scent isn’t strong enough to cover the smell, and other times the scent is too strong and overpowers the space. If you have a keen sense of smell or just really dislike even a hint of smelly trash, then the Tramontina – 81200/540 may be for you; it comes with two air fresheners that last 60 days.

Internal liner: The internal liner is the removable plastic portion that comes with the trash can, which makes it easy to switch bags and clean. These are almost always constructed of a plastic material, and if they get dirty you can take them outside and spray them down with a hose. While not a crucial addition to a trash can, it’s a nice bonus to have.

The bottom line

There are several features that constitute a good trash can, like the bag holding technology, easy trash bag switching, and a nice clean aesthetic that doesn’t take much to maintain. The simplehuman – CW2024 has all of those traits and provides you with a compartment in the back to hold easy-to-grab bags. It is the easiest to change bags with this trash can and it has a great stay-open lid with a liner that helps hold the bag in place and hides it from plain view.

Best Overall: simplehuman - CW2024

This is a pricey trash can, but it's definitely the best. The fingerprint-resistant exterior is good-looking and easy to keep clean. The bag system is brilliant, and the soft-close lid is a nice touch.

The Glad – GLD-74506 has many of the same features as the simplehuman but at one-third less the price. Our budget pick is the Rubbermaid – 1843029, which has the biggest mouth we tested by over 30 percent (and it’s only about $20!). Not to mention how effortless it is to change out trash bags on the Rubbermaid.

Also Great: Glad - GLD-74506

If you don't want to spend the money on our top pick, this Glad model has many of the same features, including fingerprint-proof stainless steel and antimicrobial coating to prevent odors.

If you want to go the motion-sensor route then the Ninestars – DZT-50-9 is the way to go because it will stay clean with little maintenance and has the farthest reaching infrared sensor, making it a breeze to throw away your garbage. Though these are all great choices, it is the simplehuman – CW2024 that you will be ultimately satisfied with, which is why we have dubbed it the best overall trash can.

And now that you’ve outfitted your kitchen with the best new trash can, check out our reviews for other kitchen products like the best nonstick cookware and the best toaster oven.

Budget Pick: Rubbermaid - 1843029

The biggest opening and a good bag retention design at a price that's easy live with. This doesn't sparkle and gleam, but it's a great trash can.

Bryan Vu, Editor

Bryan is our cooking and kitchen expert, with more than 15 years of experience of cooking and testing kitchen products. When outside of the kitchen, he enjoys woodworking, photography, videography and figuring out how to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. He thoroughly enjoys discovering the best, whether it’s ingredients or equipment, and finding products that can stand the rigors of daily use.

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