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A high-quality kitchen trash can should not only suit your space in terms of size and design, but it should be easy to operate and clean. Below we have narrowed down the best kitchen trash cans for your home based on our evaluations and consumer reviews. Our picks include dual-compartment trash cans, stainless steel models, tall trash cans and decorative ones that may help you spice up your kitchen design.
Our top picks:
In the Good Housekeeping Institute, we test all sorts of products made for your kitchen, from top-rated kitchen gadgets to garbage bags, dish soap and more. To choose the best kitchen trash cans, we relied on decades of expertise from our Home Care and Cleaning Lab and our Kitchen Appliances and Innovation Lab. We considered trash can brands that have performed well in previous Lab tests, as well as those we use in our own homes. We looked at factors such as ease of use, cleaning and either our own expert performance assessments or those of consumer reviewers; we also took note of extra features like the number of compartments, built-in motion sensors and more.
After you've checked out our favorite kitchen trash cans, keep reading to learn more about what to look for when shopping for one, and don't forget to consider these helpful kitchen organization ideas.
How we tested kitchen trash cans
The product analysts at the Good Housekeeping Institute first scour the web to learn about what shoppers are searching for. We then apply our knowledge of the cleaning and cooking industries to look for key features that you'll find in a high-quality kitchen trash can, such as materials, size, opening mechanisms, special features and more. Our picks are comprised of trash can brands that we've previously tested and trust, ones our Lab experts have tested in their own homes and trash cans with rave consumer reviews.
How to control kitchen trash can odors
Here are a few key tips from our Cleaning experts to control stinky kitchen trash odors:
- Whenever possible, wrap food scraps in any foil or plastic wrap that you're also discarding to contain odors.
- Stash particularly smelly foods, like leftovers that have gone bad, in the fridge or freezer before putting them in the can on trash day.
- If the trash starts to smell, sprinkle some baking soda on top to help absorb any funky odors.
- Place a small-space odor remover, like this GH Seal Star Febreze Small Spaces, under the trash can liner for continuous freshening.
Where is the best place to put a trash can in the kitchen?
According to Forté, your kitchen trash can should be accessible but not the center of attention. "Place it as close to the sink as possible, but tucked into a corner or against a wall or island so it's not so obvious in the room," she says.
What to look for when shopping for a kitchen trash can
✔️ Capacity: One of the most popular kitchen trash can sizes is 13 gallons (or 50 liters). According to Papantoniou, this size is suitable for a full-sized family that will take the trash out a couple of times per week. You can also opt for an even smaller trash can or one that's divided into compartments. When considering capacity, "make sure it's easy enough to find trash bags," Papantoniou says. "You may not want to be beholden to a brand's proprietary trash bags."
✔️ Number of compartments: Many trash cans offer two compartments so you have the option to recycle too. These compartments are split into two, and sometimes the trash side is larger. "Trash cans that are divided equally in half are usually more helpful as recycling tends to be bulkier and takes up more space, Papantoniou says. Forté also suggests considering whether the inner compartments are removable or not. "Removable inner bins make cleaning easier and quicker rather than having to clean the entire can," she says.
✔️ Shape: Trash cans come in all sorts of shapes: rectangular, round, D-shaped (half-round) and more. As a rule of thumb, rectangular trash cans can be pushed up against a wall or counter, while round ones may be less obtrusive or noticeable in a room.
✔️ Opening mechanism: Because you'll be constantly opening up your trash can, it's important that it's easy to open. Some trash cans feature a foot pedal, while others have a touch lid, swing lid, a motion sensor or are manual. "Look for a long, wide foot pedal you can easily step on," Papantoniou suggests. "A touch lid might be a nuisance but they're still easy to use, while manual trash cans are easy to use but fastest to dirty. Motion sensors indicate no touch, but these can easily break or not always work."
✔️ Diameter of opening: A wide opening makes it easier to fit everything into your trash can. When possible, choose a larger opening.
✔️ Material: Most trash cans are made of stainless steel or plastic or a combination of both. (Stainless steel trash cans may have inner plastic liners, lids or rims.) Stainless steel is durable and looks stylish, but can smudge, dent and rust. A fingerprint- and stain-resistant finish is a must to help keep it looking clean. Plastic is lightweight and easy to clean but is also porous, so it may hold onto odors and over time it can dry out and crack.
✔️ Lid: Ask yourself whether you want a lid that stays open or one that's removable as this will make it easier to clean.
Why trust Good Housekeeping?
The Good Housekeeping Institute Home Care & Cleaning Lab provides expert tips and reviews on all things cleaning. Carolyn Forté brings over 40 years of experience as a consumer products expert to her role as executive director of the Home Care & Cleaning Lab. She has deep analytical testing and editorial writing expertise in categories like washers, dryers and vacuum cleaners, plus every tip needed to keep a home clean and organized.
Good Housekeeping Institute Kitchen Appliances and Innovation Lab Director Nicole Papantoniou oversees all of our content and testing related to kitchen appliances, tools, gadgets and gear. She's been testing kitchen products since she joined GH in 2019, and she attends trade shows and meets with brands regularly to learn about the latest and greatest models and features.
GH Institute analyst and writer Olivia Lipski closely collaborated with Forté and Papantoniou to write this guide based on our testing data. She covers everything from consumer electronics to home appliances and products for GH.
Olivia (she/her) is a media and tech product reviews analyst at the Good Housekeeping Institute, covering tech, home, auto, health and more. She has more than five years of experience writing about tech trends and innovation and, prior to joining GH in 2021, was a writer for Android Central, Lifewire and other media outlets. Olivia is a graduate of George Washington University, with a bachelor's degree in journalism, political science and French, and she holds a master’s degree in communications from Sciences Po Paris.
Carolyn Forté brings more than 40 years of experience as a consumer products expert to her role as executive director of the Good Housekeeping Institute's Home Care and Cleaning Lab. Using deep analytical testing and writing expertise in appliances, cleaning, textiles and organizational products, she produces cleaning and home care advice for GH, has authored numerous books and bookazines for the brand and partners with the American Cleaning Institute to co-produce the Discover Cleaning Summits. She holds a bachelor's degree in family and consumer sciences from Queens College, City University of New York.
Nicole (she/her) is the director of the Good Housekeeping Institute's Kitchen Appliances and Innovation Lab, where she has overseen content and testing related to kitchen and cooking appliances, tools and gear since 2019. She’s an experienced product tester and recipe creator, trained in classic culinary arts and culinary nutrition. She has worked in test kitchens for small kitchen appliance brands and national magazines, including Family Circle and Ladies’ Home Journal.
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