Think your stove is the hardest working item in your kitchen? Nope. Refrigerator? Well, it does run all day, but, still no. It's your trash can. With so many options to choose from (from a $5 plastic container to a $300+ designer version), it's not always so obvious which cans are literal garbage and which will change your trash—and recycling—game completely. These 11 picks are functional and stylish (you know, for a trash receptacle), so you can get just the can you need.
Just a few things of note before we begin:
- A standard tall kitchen trash bag is 13 gallons/50 liters. Typically, this bag will fit into a slightly smaller trash can with a little fold-over. Most freestanding garbage cans on the market are between 10-13 gallons, while 7 gallons or less is more appropriate for storing inside a cabinet.
- Stainless steel trash cans, unlike molded plastic varieties, do not absorb odors over time.
- Remember that any trash can used in the kitchen should be solid and not let leaks out if the liner inside were to break. Avoid mesh or wire wastebaskets; these are better suited for a home office or bathroom.
- Consider your lid options: Step-to-open, swing top, touch-free sensor open, lift top. Are you a frequent cook whose hands are often messy while prepping food? A step-to-open or touch-free trash can is for you. Use your oven as storage and have a catalog of take-out restaurants on speed dial? A swing top or lift top should be just fine.
Size Capacity: 44 Quarts/11 Gallons
Dimensions: 25" H x 13.380" W x 16.5" D / 3.7 lbs
Material: Polypropylene, Plastic
Stand-Out Features: This trash can is currently sitting in my kitchen. It has been a faithful receptacle for the past 2 years with no complaints from me. The opening is big enough to shove bags of take-out containers into, liners go in and out with ease, and the pedal-operated lid still works as well as the day I brought it home. It will surely perform until I'm ready to invest in a more stylish stainless steel option.
Size Capacity: 3 Gallons
Dimensions: 9.75" in diameter x 16.25" H / 4.833 lbs
Material: Steel, Polypropylene
Stand-Out Features: At just 3 gallons, the Strapats won't hold your standard kitchen trash bag, but it's small enough to tuck into a corner or sliver in your kitchen (IKEA sells coordinating trash bags for the perfect fit, $2.49 for a pack of 18.) The bin has a handle in the back, making it easy to move around as needed, and has a removable inner bucket to make taking the trash out pretty seamless. A step-to-open mechanism won't kill your back when bending down to open the lid.
Size Capacity: 13.3 Gallons/50 Liters
Dimensions: 22.10" H x 12.50" W x 15.40" D / Weight not available
Stand-Out Features: At just over a foot wide, this Hefty trash can is slender enough to slide into any open spot in your kitchen, or sit up against the side of a cabinet or island without getting in the way. You throw things away by pushing them through the center of the lid, and the flaps pivot back to place. Not 100% hands-free, but you don't have to worry about a foot pedal mechanism malfunctioning or breaking. The silver color is exactly a perfect match for your stainless appliances, but it'll be less obvious than a white or black can.
Size Capacity: 13 Gallons
Dimensions: 24.82" H x 17.59" W x 14.65" D / 2.5 lbs
Stand-Out Features: This is Amazon's top-selling wastebasket, and from the 734 reviews giving it a 4.5-star rating, people are happy with their purchase. Of note, however, is that some customers complained that their standard kitchen trash bag would not fit the extra-wide opening, so a read through the comments for some brand recommendations of liners that fit just right would be helpful if you're considering purchasing. Satisfied customers heralded the interior clips to keep the bag in place, the solid lid that keeps odors from escaping (and an unruly cat out) and a foot pedal that works time and time again.
Our Previous Lists:
- Simple & Sleek Trash Cans Under $100
- Kitchen Helpers: 10 Multi-Compartment Sorting Garbage & Recycling Bins
- Best Large Garbage Cans
Size Capacity: 13.2 Gallons (7.4 Gallon tilt-out bin, 5.8 Gallon sorting bin)
Dimensions: 31.22" H x 16.7" W x 12.1" D / Weight not available
Material: Not available
Stand-Out Features: Two-in-one recycler/trash cans are usually either extra wide to fit two interior bins or extra-long for the same reason. This one is the size of a standard freestanding trash can. The top portion holds 5.8 gallons of recyclables and has a fold away handle that makes it easy to take out and empty into your recycling bin, while the bottom part tilts out easily and holds an 8-gallon trash bag with locking feature so the bag stays in place. This could also be a great recycling-only option (as long as you have room for a separate trash can) as you can use both bins for properly sorted plastic/metal and paper.
Size Capacity: 13.2 Gallons
Dimensions: 27.88" H x 10.75" W x 12.75" D / 8 lbs
Material: Brushed Stainless Steel
Stand-Out Features: This clever trash can uses an infrared sensor (operated by 4 D-size batteries or an AC power adaptor that's unfortunately sold separately) that triggers the lid to open when it detects motion within 6 inches. It also has a deodorizing filter that reviewers noted works pretty well. At 8 pounds, it's definitely heavier than molded plastic options, which is a plus if you have nosey pets who like to tip over wastebaskets to rifle through trash (hurray!).
Size Capacity: 13 Gallons/45 Liters
Dimensions: 25.8" H x 15.9" W x 13.3" D / 12.8 lbs
Material: Stainless Steel, Plastic
Stand-Out Features: Simplehuman-brand products always seem to be heralded by their users (just take a look at the 505 nearly 5-star ratings on Amazon!) Not just that, but trusted source The Sweet Home picked this particular model as their top performer from a roster of 80 that they put through the testing ringer (UPDATE: The Sweet Home picked this trashcan's predecessor, but this is the newest model). It comes with a 5-year warranty, so on the off chance that the internal hinge or pedal go haywire, you're covered. It's on the smaller size in terms of capacity, so if you prefer taking the trash out every day, this might be a good option for you. A standard 13-gallon bag seems to fit inside, but you can also order Code M liners from the brand for the perfect match.
Other Good Resources:
- The Best Kitchen Trash Can - The Sweet Home
- The Best Kitchen Trash Can for Your Home - Real Simple
- Which garbage cans aren't garbage? - Slate
Size Capacity: 10.5 Gallons/40 Liters
Dimensions: 30.5" H x 10.4" W x 26" D / 17 lbs
Material: Stainless Steel, Plastic
Stand-Out Features: Another top-rated simplehuman stainless trash can, this time in a recycling version. Each bin holds 20 liters (just over 5 gallons), which is enough for about 24 beer bottles and a days-worth of trash. A standard trash bag would fit into each bin, though it would most likely get quite bunched up, and would be a waste of plastic. You can order 60 Code D liners from the brand on amazing for about $16 if you want a better fit. We like the split-open lid for its lower clearance, silent close feature and its super slim 10.4" width.
Size Capacity: 10 Gallons/40 Liters
Dimensions: 28.6" H x 17.1" W x 11.9" D / 10.7 lbs
Material: Stainless Steel
Stand-Out Features: This baby is Slate's top-performing pick (it scored the highest points in their aesthetic, dustpan, basketball, stain and stink tests.) As they put it: "Brabantia cans are the Viking stove of garbage cans—gleaming, classy, and very expensive. The Touch Bin is elegantly designed: A straight cylinder with no liner, it hides the edge of the garbage bag with its cushiony lid. With a flick of the fingers, the black plastic lid opens, slowly, silently, like the top of Dracula's coffin. But in spite of its dark beauty, its steep price is a huge drawback, especially if you factor in the cost of specially fitted garbage bags at $5.99 per 10-bag pack." At over $150, it's by no means a bargain, and would certainly be sorted into the "luxury trash can" category. We like that the stainless steel claims to be fingerprint proof, and the half-moon design sits closely to the wall.
Size Capacity: 14.5 Gallons total (6.5 Gallon capacity for each smaller bin)
Dimensions: 25.8" H x 22" W x 14.2" D / Weight not available
Material: Stainless Steel, Plastic
Stand-Out Features: Fingerprint proof, separate bins for recycling, reinforced solid-steel bar foot pedal, eco-friendly carbon filter to neutralize odor: is this a trash can or a Cadillac? Oh, it's a trash can, and for the mighty price tag of $200, it has basically every feature you could want out of a wastebasket (besides rolling itself out of your house to dispose of its contents.) With comments like "I didn't think I could get excited about a garbage can!" and "Can you love a garbage can? Yes, you can!" it seems well worth its asking price. This might be the first (and last) time I declare that I might have a crush on a trash can.
Size Capacity: Not available
Dimensions: 11.75" in diameter x 24.5" H / Weight not available
Material: Stainless Steel, Rubber
Stand-Out Features: This designer trash can may have a convenient foot pedal and handles for ease of movement, but it's also a little piece of history. First designed in 1939 by Holger Nielsen for use in his wife's salon in Denmark, demand for the hand-assembled pedal bin spread like wild fire. The original Vipp trash bin was acquired by the MoMA for its permanent collection in 2009.