The Best Kitchen Trash Cans of 2021

From basic trash cans to sleek touchless models, find the right bin for your kitchen waste.

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The Best Kitchen Trash Can Option

Photo: amazon.com

Management of kitchen waste is a daily chore. To make it easier on yourself, equip your kitchen with the best trash can. Whether you’ve just moved in or are looking to replace an existing bin that no longer gets the job done, continue reading for the top tips on navigating the options—and don’t miss the roundup of some of the best kitchen trash can options available.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Rubbermaid Classic 13 Gallon Step On Trash Can
  2. BEST BUDGET: mDesign 1.3 Gallon Rectangular Slim Profile Metal Can
  3. UPGRADE PICK: simplehuman 45 Liter Rectangular Trash can
  4. BEST TOUCHLESS: Ninestars DZT-80-35 Automatic Touchless Sensor Can
  5. BEST LARGE: iTouchless 23 Gallon Semi-Round Open Top Trash Can
  6. BEST DUAL COMPARTMENT: simplehuman 40 Liter/10.6 Gallon Dual Compartment
  7. BEST UNDER-SINK: KaryHome Hanging Small Trash Can
  8. BEST PET-PROOF:  iTouchless SoftStep 13.2 Gallon Trash Can
The Best Kitchen Trash Can Option

Photo: despositphotos.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Kitchen Trash Can

Your kitchen layout, number of users, and pets can influence a trash can design’s effectiveness. From size and shape to material and mounting options, the decision needs to include how, where, and who will use the trash can most.

Size and Shape 

Optimal size for your kitchen trash can depends on household size, whether you compost, compact, or otherwise get rid of some kitchen waste, and space available. Kitchen trash cans typically range from 12 to 16 gallons for households with multiple users, though some are as small as 7 gallons.

  • 7-10 gallons: If you live alone and generate relatively little trash, consider a smaller unit in this capacity range.
  • 13 gallons: These trash cans are the most common size. They tend to be large enough to accommodate such large items as gallon-size milk containers but not so large that they hog floor space.
  • 14-16 gallons: This size range is ideal for households with four people or more.

Many kitchen trash cans also come in rectangular, oval, or circular designs to fit better into your kitchen space and for your personal preference. But, rectangular is classified as one of the best options for under your counter or in a corner.

Freestanding vs. Mounted

If the kitchen doesn’t have a built-in trash can drawer, freestanding and mounted options are what’s left. Freestanding models have larger capacities and can be moved around the kitchen as needed. They also offer a wider variety of design options, including shape, manual or electric lid, and lid designs. However, they can also get knocked over. Homes with pets or children might find trash spilled across the floor if it’s in a busy area.

Mounted kitchen trash cans offer the benefit of staying in place. Some mount to the kitchen wall, where you can deposit food scraps while cooking. Others mount under the cabinet or sink, staying accessible but out of sight. These small trash bins are less noticeable, though they don’t come in the same design variety as freestanding models. They also might not have the capacity for a large family.

Material

Kitchen trash cans are typically made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is heavy-duty plastic, or various metals.

  • Plastic: Plastic is an inexpensive option for a kitchen trash bin. Plastic trash cans are flexible and wash easily. If someone happens to bump or drop the garbage can, a plastic bin is less likely to dent or scratch. They’re also lightweight, making them easier to empty. Unfortunately, they’re not the most visually appealing.
  • Stainless steel: Stainless steel blends in with kitchen appliances. It’s also durable and resists rust. On the downside, stainless steel can get dented or scratched and can show fingerprints and spills more readily than plastic. These models can be heavy, too. However, many have a removable inner can made of plastic that’s lighter and easier to empty.
  • Aluminum: Aluminum has many of the same properties as stainless steel. It’s durable, rust-resistant, and matches stainless steel appliances. Aluminum is lighter weight than stainless steel but still strong enough to resist scratches and dents.

Lid Design

A lid holds trash bags in place, keeps smells at bay, and deters curious pets. Some models feature domed lids with a swinging door attached by hinges. Users simply push the door to deposit trash. There’s no need to remove the lid unless you’re tossing in a large item that won’t fit through the opening.

Other models feature a touch-free lid opened either by stepping on a pedal at the base of the can or by activating a sensor that responds to hand motion.

Additional Features 

Additional features can make the trash can easier and more convenient to use. Some of the most common include:

  • Motion sensor lid: Battery power keeps these lids opening and closing with the wave of a hand. They’re a hands-free option that lets users dump in trash even if their hands are full. However, the sensors or battery can wear out fairly quickly. And if the opening mechanism breaks, it usually means it’s time for a new trash can.
  • Trash bag holder: Trash bag holders are usually on the back side of a large kitchen trash can. Some manufacturers sell trash bags in packages that fit inside the trash bag holder, but most of the time, several bags can fit in the holder even if they’re not made or sold by the manufacturer.
  • Foot pedal: Foot pedals offer hands-free opening of the trash can lid without the need for batteries.

Our Top Picks

Our list includes trash cans from top brands like simplehuman and Rubbermaid. Beyond trusted brands, the trash cans on this list have the durability, size, and extra features that make them practical and easy to use.

Best Overall

The Best Kitchen Trash Can Option: Rubbermaid Classic 13 Gallon Step On Trash Can
Photo: amazon.com

The Rubbermaid 13-gallon step trash can skips bells and whistles in favor of durability and performance. It’s made of plastic with a stainless steel pedal, both of which have the durability to take heavy daily use. The pedal’s extra width and depth add strength and better distribute foot pressure to resist damage. An extra-wide rim adds strength to this second weak point.

This model also features a liner-lock retainer band to lock the trash bag in place, preventing slippage. The band lifts out of the trash can to make it easier to remove bags and keeps the trash bag fully hidden from the outside. At 13 gallons, this model is large enough for families but won’t eat up unnecessary floor space.

Product Specs

  • Capacity: 13 gallons
  • Material: Plastic and stainless steel
  • Lid control: Foot pedal

Pros

  • Interlock retainer band securely holds bags
  • Wide, thick stainless steel foot pedal withstands heavy use
  • Lid opens and closes quietly
  • Garbage bag is hidden from the outside

Cons

  • Less secure lid compared to other options


Best Budget

The Best Kitchen Trash Can Option: mDesign 1.3 Gallon Rectangular Slim Profile Metal Can
Photo: amazon.com

The mDesign 1.3-gallon rectangular kitchen trash can is made with a compact design that can fit under counters, inside kitchen cabinets, and in corners. Given its stainless steel construction and interior shatter-resistant plastic liner bucket with handles, this unit is meant for easy cleaning and hassle-free trash removal.

The can comes in 12 colors and finishes, and the colors and finishes range from matte to shiny. All of them wipe clean, though matte finishes are less likely to show fingerprints.

Product Specs

  • Capacity: 1.3 gallons
  • Materials: Stainless steel body, plastic liner
  • Lid control: Foot pedal

Pros

  • Convenient under sink or cabinet size
  • Handles on inner liner offer easier emptying
  • 12 color and finish options
  • Arrives preassembled

Cons

  • Small capacity
  • Susceptible to denting


Upgrade Pick

The Best Kitchen Trash Can Option: simplehuman 45 Liter Rectangular Trash can
Photo: amazon.com

For sleek design and hands-free operation, look no further. Boasting a shallow profile that tucks unobtrusively against the wall, the 45-liter rectangular hands-free step can from simplehuman boasts an exterior surface that’s easy to wipe clean, as well as a convenient step pedal designed to endure repeated use.

The can includes a strong and wide steel pedal for hands-free use. This simplehuman trash can comes in five finishes, including brushed stainless steel that resists fingerprints. It features a trash bag storage compartment on the back of the can for easier access when it’s time to empty. Technology built into the lid slows its opening and closing for quiet operation.

Product Specs

  • Capacity: 11.9 gallons
  • Materials: Stainless steel
  • Lid control: Foot pedal

Pros

  • Durable, solid materials and construction
  • Slow-closing lid operates quietly and doesn’t slam shut
  • Trash bag holder compartment for replacement bags
  • Rim holds bags in place

Cons

  • More expensive than standard trash cans


Best Touchless

The Best Kitchen Trash Can Option: Ninestars DZT-80-35 Automatic Touchless Sensor Can
Photo: amazon.com

A kitchen can operate smoothly and cleanly with a touchless trash can like this 21-gallon pick from Ninestars. A quick-open motion sensor cues the lid to quietly pop at a mere wave of the hand.  It also has an open/close button to hold the lid open for longer periods.

The attractive stainless steel surface resists fingerprints, and the can’s non-skid base keeps it from shifting. A removable ring liner holds trash bags securely in place while also concealing the top of the bag for a clean look.

Product Specs

  • Capacity: 21 gallons
  • Materials: Stainless steel
  • Lid control: Motion sensor

Pros

  • Infrared sensor touchless control or on-off button
  • Ring liner hides trash bags
  • Large capacity holds enough for larger families
  • Quiet operation

Cons

  • More expensive than standard trash cans


Best Large

The Best Kitchen Trash Can Option: iTouchless 23 Gallon Semi-Round Open Top Trash Can
Photo: amazon.com

This iTouchless high 23-gallon capacity comes in a tall, semi-oval design. It’s slim and tall to reduce the overall square footage it takes up. There’s no lid with this model, but the thick top rim hides the trash bag. That open-top design supports faster, quicker disposal.

The stainless steel on this iTouchless trash can has a smudge- and fingerprint-proof finish. Air vents at the bottom of the can create a gentle airflow to prevent a vacuum seal when it’s time to remove the bag. This model accommodates standard 23-gallon trash bags.

Product Specs

  • Capacity: 23 gallons
  • Materials: Stainless steel
  • Lid control: None

Pros

  • Tall design takes up less space
  • Fingerprint-proof finish
  • Bottom vents make it easier to remove full trash bags
  • Rim hides trash bags

Cons

  • Open lid can show trash and doesn’t trap odors
  • More expensive than standard trash cans


Best Dual Compartment

The Best Kitchen Trash Can Option: simplehuman 40 Liter/10.6 Gallon Dual Compartment
Photo: amazon.com

This simplehuman dual-compartment trash can features two bins, one to hold trash and the other to hold recycling. The inner design leaves space for hands to reach in and remove each bin independently. It also has a “bucket park,” which allows you to lift each bin out part way, tilt it, and rest the bucket for better access when putting in or taking out a trash bag.

A durable stainless steel foot pedal that withstands heavy use can hold this lid open for longer disposal needs. The lid’s butterfly design leaves extra clearance space under cabinets and cupboards. A slow-close mechanism offers near-silent closing. The brushed stainless steel resists fingerprints.

Product Specs

  • Capacity: 10.6 gallons
  • Materials: Stainless steel with plastic liners
  • Lid control: Foot pedal

Pros

  • Quiet foot pedal and lid operation
  • Bucket feature provides easy access to both bins
  • Finish resists fingerprint marks
  • Durable construction withstands heavy use

Cons

  • Less useful for those with a dedicated recycling bin


Best Under-Sink

The Best Kitchen Trash Can Option: KaryHome Hanging Small Trash Can
Photo: amazon.com

This small hanging trash can with lid by KaryHome is attractive enough to mount out in the open. It also has the mounting options to do so. A mounting bracket on the back can attach it to an under-sink cabinet door. However, the removable bracket can come off so that the can mounts on a wall using the included adhesive tape.

The lid and carrying handle round out the additional features. The lid keeps odors and food hidden when it’s mounted in the open. A lip on the edges of the lid can attach it to the side of the trash can or the handle for easy storage when it’s not in use. This model also comes in five attractive colors, from basic black and white to fun and bright.

Product Specs

  • Capacity: 1.3 gallons
  • Materials: Plastic
  • Lid control: Manual lid

Pros

  • Bright, attractive colors
  • Versatile mounting options
  • Lid attaches to side of can or a carrying handle

Cons

  • Thin plastic on handle and hook


Best Pet-Proof

The Best Kitchen Trash Can Option: iTouchless SoftStep 13.2 Gallon Trash Can
Photo: amazon.com

Persistent pets can make a mess of garbage, but the SoftStep features a flush-lid design that leaves little room for curious noses. Even if pets do sniff around, there’s not a lip there for them to leverage the lid open.

Beyond lid design, this model features a durable stainless steel foot pedal. Once the pedal is released, it gently closes with a silent control mechanism. The SoftStep includes a stay-open mode for jobs that require more consistent access to the trash can. A “tuck & hold” design on the interior holds trash bags in place. The brushed finish also resists fingerprints.

Product Specs

  • Capacity: 13.2 gallons
  • Materials: Stainless steel
  • Lid control: Foot pedal

Pros

  • Flush lid design
  • Smudge-proof finish
  • Durable, stainless steel foot pedal
  • Bags stay in place

Cons

  • Plastic mechanism that closes lid can break


Our Verdict

The Rubbermaid Classic offers the best balance of capacity, design, and price. It might not look as sleek as some of the stainless steel models, but it’s easy to keep clean and won’t dent like metal. If sleek and impressive are your goals, the simplehuman trash can offers a large capacity and durable stainless steel body that blends well with modern kitchens.

How We Chose the Best Kitchen Trash Cans

There are plenty of kitchen trash cans on the market, but finding one that won’t break, dent, or look like it’s been attacked by a pack of wolves after only a month isn’t easy. We considered at least 100 trash cans as we searched for worthy models.

Durability was one of the top considerations. Models that break after only a month or two don’t belong in a busy kitchen no matter how good they look. Materials like thick plastic resins and stainless steel consistently perform well.

Any moving mechanisms like manual foot pedals or motion-activated lids were taken into consideration heavily since these are typically weak points for trash cans. The trash cans on our list had to be made of premium materials and include mechanisms that withstood the test of time.

FAQs

Kitchen trash cans aren’t something you think about until they’re overflowing or breaking. If you’re not sure where to start your search, we’ve got answers to common questions.

Q. How big should a kitchen trash can be?

Trash can size depends on the size of the kitchen, your family, and where the trash can will be used. Most single or two-person homes need a 10-gallon trash can or smaller. Under-sink models may be as small as two or three gallons. The average trash can typically has a 13-gallon capacity, which is enough for a family of four to six. Larger families, busy kitchens, or small businesses might want to go higher capacity with a 20- to 23-gallon model.

Q. Where does the trash can go in the kitchen?

Trash cans can go anywhere you want them to. Under the sink, in the pantry, in the utility room, or next to the island are common places based on different kitchen layouts. Ideally, the trash can is somewhere that’s easily accessible but out of the way or hidden from general foot traffic.

Q. How do you keep a kitchen trash can from sliding on the floor?

Look for a trash can with rubber grips, feet, or other stabilizing mechanisms on the bottom. These mechanisms help hold the can in place while in use.

Q. How do you hide trash cans in the kitchen?

Using an under-sink model is the most popular way to hide the trash can. However, these are fairly limited in size. Built-in trash can drawers hide the trash can in the cabinetry, helping it blend into the rest of the cabinets.

Q. What do you clean a kitchen trash can with?

Kitchen trash cans can begin to look and smell foul. The choice of cleaning material or method for cleaning a trash can depends on the materials. Plastic models and liners clean easily with warm water and soap. Stainless steel trash cans will look clean and bright with a cleaner designed specifically for stainless steel.