Trash bags are one of those everyday items most people don’t notice—until they break, dumping trash on the kitchen floor or leaking foul-smelling liquids into the bottom of the can. The best trash bags prevent these headaches from happening. They feature flexible plastic that’s strong enough to handle heavy loads and stretchy enough to accommodate pointy and sharp items that threaten to puncture the bag. A quality trash bag also has a strong tie that keeps the bag firmly in place while lining the can and provides a sturdy handle that keeps the bag tightly closed for transport to the outdoor can.
This guide explores factors to consider when shopping for trash bags along with some of the best trash bags for the home.
- BEST OVERALL: Glad Tall Kitchen Drawstring Trash Bag – 13 Gallon
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Amazon Brand – Solimo Tall Kitchen Trash Bags
- BEST SCENTED: Glad ForceFlex Tall Kitchen Drawstring Trash Bags
- BEST BIODEGRADABLE: Green Earth Compostable Biodegradable Tall Trash Bags
- BEST EXTRA-STRONG: Hefty Tall Kitchen Drawstring, Lavender Sweet Vanilla
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Trash Bags
In addition to finding the right size to suit the garbage can, it’s also crucial to pay attention to flex, thickness, ties, and odor control when shopping for a trash bag.
Trash bags are almost always manufactured of polyethylene, a type of plastic known for its strength and resistance to tearing. Though most trash bags use polyethylene, not all polyethylene is equal. Low-density polyethylene has better flex qualities and therefore does a better job of resisting tearing, while high-density polyethylene is more rigid and better resists punctures. Since high-density trash bags are thinner, they use less material, making them less expensive.
It’s crucial to pick the trash bag that’s the right size for the can. The standard kitchen trash can uses 13-gallon trash bags. Bedroom and office trash cans are typically 7 to 10 gallons, while small bathroom trash cans are about 4 gallons. Large black garbage bags used in outdoor cans range in size from 20 to 30 gallons.
A trash bag’s thickness is measured in mils, not to be confused with millimeters. One mil is equivalent to one one-thousandth of an inch. The thicker the trash bag, the less susceptible it is to tearing and punctures. Most trash bags are between 0.7 and 3 mils. Kitchen trash bags are about 0.9 mils, while heavy-duty contractor trash bags are typically 3 mils or more.
Trash bags with stretch allow the plastic to expand to accommodate more garbage without tearing. Popular brands such as Hefty and Glad have their proprietary stretch technologies—Hefty has Ultimate Flex and Ultra Flex, while Glad has its ForceFlex. While flex may not make much of a difference when the trash bag is supported by the confines of the rigid can, it does when it’s time to take out the trash. Bags that flex allow the load to drop toward the bottom of the bag, preventing garbage overflow. Flex also enables the bag to conform around sharp or pointed objects that might otherwise cut through the plastic.
Ties add convenience that makes lining a trash can or taking out the trash easier and less prone to spills. Some trash bags include ties that flex, allowing them to grip around the rim of the garbage can more easily. When the trash is full, the tie cinches the bag’s opening tight, preventing waste from falling out of the top during transport. A quality bag will also have ties that won’t break while carrying heavy loads.
Many trash bags feature treatments that help remove odors or provide fresh scents that mask odors. Lavender, citrus, and vanilla are common scents for trash bags. Some bags have chemical treatments that eliminate the air molecules that cause odors.
Our Top Picks
The trash bags below are strong and flexible with features that resist tears and punctures while also reducing odors. Take a look at the options to find the best trash bags for your needs.
Glad continues to innovate with its line of 13-gallon ForceFlex bags, ensuring that garbage ends up in the trash can and not on the kitchen floor. The checkered pattern that covers each bag isn’t for show; it allows the bag to flex, ensuring garbage with pointy corners can be crammed into its confines without penetrating the plastic. Additionally, the reinforced bottom helps guard against rips or tears.
These are also some of the best bags for preventing leaks, thanks to the double-sided seals that prevent the seams from splitting. A flexible three-ply drawstring grips around the rim, preventing the top of the bag from slipping into the can while also providing a sturdy tie that holds the top tightly together for transport to the outdoor trash can. This bag also incorporates OdorShield technology, which helps neutralize odor-causing bacteria.
These Amazon trash bags may not have the flexing action and odor control of some higher-end trash bags, but they do a capable job of holding trash at a fraction of the cost of higher-end trash bags. Although they lack the flex capability that resists punctures and tears, with a 0.9 mil thickness, the plastic won’t give way easily. A sturdy drawstring facilitates easy transport of a full bag from the kitchen bin to the garbage can. These 13-gallon bags fit standard kitchen trash receptacles and come in various pack sizes ranging from 45-count to 200-count.
These Glad ForceFlex bags attack trash can odors on two fronts. They incorporate Island Fresh Scent from Gain (a company known for making laundry detergent) for a pleasant smell that masks odors along with odor-killing treatment from Febreze, preventing bad smells from permeating the kitchen. Glad’s ForceFlex, a proprietary technology the company utilizes in many of its trash bags, prevents disastrous bag splits with plastic that flexes to expand around edges that might otherwise rip a hole in the bag. Glad’s Ripguard and Leakguard features prevent liquids from leaking out of the bag.
Other thoughtful features include a drawstring that not only makes it easy to take the trash out when full but also grips the rim of the trash can, preventing the top of the bag from sliding into the can. With a capacity of 13 gallons, these bags fit standard kitchen trash cans.
With their sturdy 1 mil thickness, these compostable and biodegradable bags from Green Earth are earth friendly and don’t break easily. These bags meet ASTM D6400 standard, which means they are certified for biodegradation by aerobic composting. These bags will decompose in both commercial composting and home composters, making them ideal for use with compost bins. With that in mind, these bags are not a good option for homes that use trash compactors or standard trash pickup services that use landfills, neither of which allow for the oxygen needed to enable the bags to decompose.
At 13 gallons, these bags fit standard kitchen trash cans and come in 50-count packs. Multiple packs are available at bulk prices. Since these bags are biodegradable, they have a shelf life of one year.
Hefty’s 13-gallon Ultra Strong kitchen bags use Triple Action Technology that allows the bag to stretch to not only hold more weight but conform around pointy objects in the trash that would easily puncture less malleable bags.
Of course, stuffing a bag full isn’t much of an advantage if the drawstring snaps under the weight. Hefty’s bag uses a reinforced drawstring to prevent this from happening. Hefty’s Ultra Strong bags aren’t just about preventing tears and holes. These bags also address odor issues, using Arm & Hammer odor neutralizer to combat odors while emitting a soothing lavender and sweet vanilla scent into the home. Hefty’s Ultra Strong pack includes 80 bags.
FAQs About Trash Bags
If you’re still wondering what type of trash bag is right for you, then read on for answers to some of the most common questions about trash bags.
Q. How can I tell what size trash bags I need?
Use the can as a guide to select the proper size trash bag. Check the bottom of the can, which usually lists its size in gallons, then find the appropriate size. Most kitchen trash cans are 13 gallons.
Q. What are the strongest trash bags?
With its Triple Action Technology and thick plastic material, Hefty makes one of the strongest trash bags with its Ultra Strong kitchen bags.
Q. Can you use regular bags for trash?
While you can attempt to use any kind of bag for trash, using bags that aren’t designed for trash, particularly kitchen trash, likely won’t work out very well. Choosing the right bag for each situation will ensure the garbage is properly contained and easily disposed of.