While a trash can is a simple household item, it’s one you can’t live without. Food waste and garbage need a place to go. A quality kitchen trash can contains smells, keeps out pests and makes taking out the trash less of a chore.
And considering how many trash cans are on the market — with different lids, sizes and materials — choosing the best one isn’t simple.
In this article: Simplehuman 12-Gallon Butterfly Lid Kitchen Step Trash Can, iTouchless 13-Gallon Kitchen Automatic Touchless Trash Bin and Rubbermaid 12-Gallon Stainless Steel Metal Step-On Trash Can.
How big is a kitchen trash can?
A standard-size kitchen trash can holds 13 gallons, but you can find bins with 12- to 16-gallon capacities. If you buy a nonstandard-size can, be sure you have trash bags that’ll fit.
Some kitchens come with sliding drawers for a trash can. If this is the case, check the bin’s dimensions before buying.
If your space is cramped, consider a small trash can that’ll fit under the sink.
Kitchen trash can lid choices
Consider a trash bin with a lid to minimize odors from food waste. If you’re going the lidded route, here are your options:
- Hands-free lids come on step trash cans, which have a foot pedal that opens the lid. You can toss garbage without touching the bin to reduce surface contamination.
- Swing-top lids are domed or flat and offer a swinging door. It keeps waste hidden from view while also requiring minimal touching of the can’s surface to toss your trash. You may be able to drop heavier waste in without touching the can at all.
- Lift lids require that you lift the lid with your hand. The lid may be attached with a hinge or entirely removable. This design is not appropriate for under the sink unless you have ample space above the bin to manually lift the lid.
- Sensor lids open automatically using a motion sensor. They’re completely touchless, making them the most hygienic choice, as well as highly convenient. But they’re pricey and require batteries to operate.
It’s worth noting that the least expensive cans are typically lidless and may be better suited for stashing a standard-size bin under the sink or in a cabinet.
What are kitchen trash cans made of?
Besides lid technology, a trash can’s material largely determines its price. Plastic is the cheapest, but can absorb odors that are difficult to remove. Stainless steel kitchen trash cans are popular, easy to clean and don’t hold onto odors, but they can be pricey. Some mid-priced trash bins combine metal and plastic, featuring a plastic body and metal lid or vice versa.
Can I use my trash can for recycling?
You can use a kitchen trash can for recycling, though in some parts of the country you may need to use a different liner designated for recycling (typically clear or translucent blue). There are also models that feature two chambers in one so you can separate your landfill waste from your recycling. These tend to be pricier and take up more space.
Best high-end kitchen trash cans
This stainless steel bin is not one you’ll want to hide away. The attractive and high-performance design operates by a strong foot pedal and a patented butterfly lid.
This high-tech kitchen trash can uses a motion sensor to automatically open and close its lid. It features a filter to remove odors, and its battery lasts 18 months.
This step-on style comes in different sizes, including nice-looking designs that can also hold your recycling. The soft-close lid comes with a lock for keeping it open when in use.
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Best swing-top kitchen trash cans
This swing top style can also be used as an open top for large gatherings. The high-quality wastebasket comes with a flat, swinging lid and a 10-year warranty.
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With a 16.5-gallon capacity, this larger trash can is heavy-duty without being an eyesore. The can features a classic dome top and attractive two-tone color options.
For large households, this heavy-duty garbage bin boasts a 23-gallon capacity. The commercial-grade plastic is utilitarian in design and resistant to cracks.
Best touchless kitchen trash cans
For odor protection and motion-sensor operation, this smart can provides all the bells and whistles. It features Clorox odor protection to inhibit the growth of smelly bacteria, and it has a rear bag compartment to store extra liners.
The semicircular shape of this can is unique and attractive. Its motion sensor technology is a time-saver. It comes with a liner pocket for easy changes.
Best smaller-capacity kitchen trash cans
The price is right with this 10-gallon garbage can. The plastic is made from recycled materials, and the can is simple and reliable.
This space-saving trash can fits into tight spaces. The plastic bin features locking technology to keep contents from spilling out. The lid is pedal-operated and closes silently.
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