Kitchen trash cans and bags have to contend with many challenges: liquid, sharp edges, weight and odor are only some of the factors to be considered when deciding which can or bag to purchase.
Do you have pets or children? If so, you’ll know how important it is to have a simple yet secure way to manage your trash.
After reviewing the competition, we found the iTouchless 12 Gallon Stainless Steel Automatic Trash Can to be the stand out model. It’s great to have different modes and the option to switch between auto and manual. This is a nice looking trash can that offers thoughtful design and convenience that is just a slight cut above the rest.
In this guide, you will learn about different types of kitchen trash cans, sizes and bag options in our model reviews and comparisons, to help you choose the best kitchen garbage can for you and your home.
While we are perfectly happy to stomp on a foot-pedal to open our trash can, we must admit there are some clear advantages to the touchless versions.
Our Top 5 Favorite Kitchen Trash Cans
It’s not surprising that in today’s world of advancing technologies, even the humble old trash can has been given an upgrade.
Although many people are happy with the simplicity of an old school, foot-operated trash can, there is some appeal to a futuristic unit that detects movement and opens and closes accordingly, freeing up your hands and feet so you can keep working in the kitchen without skipping a beat.
1. Simplehuman Touchless Automatic Trash Can
The Simplehuman 45L sensor trash can is made from solid stainless steel and engineered thoughtfully to overcome a wide variety of inconveniences that you might experience with competing products.
There’s no need to fumble around with a foot pedal or free up your hands to open the lid on this model. Like the iTouchless and NINESTARS units below, there are infrared sensors, so all you have to do is wave your hand in front of the sensor and it will open automatically.
Notably, the interior of this trash can is easy to clean.
The battery and motor live outside of the can, so there are no gaps or cracks for waste to slip into.
There’s a compartment for storing liners in the rear interior of the unit, meaning you won’t have to go rummaging through your drawers and cupboards every time you empty it.
The “smart” sensor on this model is adequate, but it’s not going to change your life; your pets will probably be able to open this can! The lid will still close if you drift too far away, even if you’re not done throwing things away.
Aesthetically, this trash can is pretty far ahead of the competition. The exterior is fingerprint resistant burnished steel, the lid is tasteful and sleek, and the motor is nearly silent. It’s incredibly attractive, as far as trash cans go.
Simplehuman sells special liners for this unit but you should be fine using any brand of kitchen trash bag. A set of 4 AA batteries used to power it will last for a few months.
Overall, we’re impressed with the aesthetics and design of the Simplehuman 45L trash can. If you want an easy to clean trash can with an automatic lid, this is a great choice.
2. iTouchless 13 Gallon Stainless Steel Automatic Trash Can
While the iTouchless 49L trash can has the same sleek stainless sides as the Simplehuman, the black plastic lid on this unit speaks to function over form.
Still, this is a perfectly functional choice for any household in need of a touch-free trash can.
The sensor on this model works great, but we’re happier with what happens when you turn it off. Once you’ve flipped the power switch (or let the four D batteries run down), there’s an included handle to make opening the lid by hand simple and hassle-free.
This is surprisingly useful: you can turn the automatic lid on while you cook, then power down the trash can while you’re at work to keep the dog from opening it, for example.
Changing the standard 13-gallon liners is easy, thanks to air vents in the bottom of each can. Unfortunately, the apparatus for holding the liner in place isn’t quite as sturdy as we’d like.
You’ll want to check your trash bags before dropping heavy items or lots of liquid in this can. You won’t make a colossal mess, but you might knock the bag loose and have to reposition it before moving on.
A nice touch here is the addition of a carbon odor filter, which minimizes any nasty smells coming from the bin.
There are three modes to choose from for your convenience. In automatic mode, the lid stays open for five seconds before closing.
- In stay open mode, it remains ajar as long as the sensors detect an object.
- In manual mode, open or close the lid by pressing the corresponding button.
Again, we’re not quite as happy with the appearance of the iTouchless trash can compared to the Simplehuman above. It’s a mite harder to clean, and your liners aren’t quite as secure.
However, it’s still a great choice if you’re in need of a trash can with a hands-free lid.
3. NINESTARS Automatic Touchless Infrared Motion Sensor Trash Can/Recycler
The Nine Stars trash can has two plastic rings at the top to allow you to hang two trash bags. It’s perfect for any household or workplace that needs a separate bag for recyclables or a different category of waste.
If you only plan to use one bag, you’ll probably want to choose a different model.
It’s important to note that there’s nothing separating one side of the container from the other below the liner rings. This can be a plus if you’re going to load each side unevenly since there’s no hard divider to limit the volume in each bag.
On the other hand, if you put something sharp in the “recycling” side, it’s liable to puncture both trash bags.
This unit uses four D batteries and has an expected battery life of six months. While there’s a small handle in the lid, it’s not as easy to open by hand as we’d like.
Each garbage can comes with two stickers applied that designate one side as “recyclable” and one as “other waste.” It’s not too hard to cover them up with your own signs, but they are quite tacky and difficult to remove.
Each side of the Nine Stars trash can/recycler can be fitted with a standard 13-gallon trash bag. About nine gallons of each bag is usable at a time.
As with our first two reviews, this trash can utilizes infrared technology. The sensors detect movement within ten inches and the lid opens automatically. It will close three seconds after no further movement is detected.
This is the least attractive of our three sensor trash cans, looking like it’s more suited to an office or industrial space than your home, but if you can get past the rather basic aesthetics, it’s great to encourage recycling.
4. Tramontina 13 Gallon Step Trash Can
Tramontina step trash can offers hands-free lid operation without any batteries or power cords while giving you flawless control over duration and timing each time you open your lid.
What’s the catch? You have to use your foot. While it’s not usable from as many angles as the battery-operated cans, we think this trash can is a great alternative to its electric counterparts in most kitchens.
The aesthetics and design of this trash can are exemplary. It’s solid stainless steel with a satin finish and a plastic base that shouldn’t scratch your floor. Air vents on the bottom facilitate easy bag changes.
Finally (and most importantly), there’s a piston in the lid that allows it to close gracefully no matter how fast you take your foot off of the lever. You won’t wake anyone up if you use this on a midnight kitchen run.
The biggest downside to manual, foot-operated trash cans like this is the fact that you have to use your foot.
The effort required isn’t big, but it means you can’t open your trash can while leaning over a different angle, from around the corner, or in any other situation where you’re not squarely in front of it.
This is a tradeoff you’ll have to evaluate for yourself. On the plus side, the physical action makes it slightly harder for dogs and cats to figure out how to open this trash can.
The Tramontina trash can is our favorite step-operated trash can by a narrow margin. If you want to save money on batteries, not sure you want electronics hanging out in your garbage, or you’d prefer the increased control offered by a step model, this trash can is worth consideration.
5. Rubbermaid Commercial Slim Jim Front Step-On Wastebasket
Rubbermaid claims that the pedal on the Slim Jim trash can has been tested to 300,000 step cycles.
We’re happy with the slow closing lid, the stainless exterior, and the wonderful fit provided by the bag rings.
This can is available in a variety of sizes (4 to 24 gallons) and there is a model available that features two bag holders to keep trash and recycling separate, like the Nine Stars above.
Like the Tramontina kitchen trash can, this step-operated can requires you to be squarely in front of it, so you can’t simply wave your hand from over the counter and get it to open.
Again, this comes with benefits: there are no batteries to worry about, you have better control over how long the lid stays open, and less concern that your dog or cat will walk by and trip the sensor.
All of the Rubbermaid slim cans are easy to operate and clean.
If you want to use 13-gallon bags, you might be better off with the 8-gallon trash can than the 13-gallon version. While a 13-gallon bag will fit in the 13-gallon can, it’ll be stretched very tight and won’t quite fit all the way down.
There’s more than enough space in the 8-gallon trash can to get a 13-gallon bag reasonably full, and it’ll still work fine with the Rubbermaid bag holder.
The Slim Jim trash can is quite comparable to the Tramontina above. We’re slightly more enamored with the way the Tramontina looks, but these Rubbermaids are durable, functional and well designed. You probably won’t go wrong with either choice.
Depending on your ease of access to outdoor dumpster bins, kitchen trash may linger over time. From the simple act of double-bagging some garbage to investing in a motion-sensor stainless steel trash can, you can keep your kitchen smelling fresher.
When possible, avoid adding liquid to your kitchen trash as this provides a bacteria-friendly environment for bad smells to develop.
When it comes time to clean your trash can, use a de-greasing dish soap or a very mild bleach solution to remove unpleasant odors the plastic may have absorbed.
If you’re someone who often finds themselves running around the kitchen with not enough hands to spare, you’ll appreciate the convenience of the iTouchless 13 Gallon Stainless Steel Automatic Trash Can with its infrared sensor operation.
This unit will make life easier for a busy home chef, and the included carbon filter is a great touch to reduce any nasty smells and keep your kitchen fresh and clean.