No one likes to get a whiff of stinky garbage festering in the kitchen. Think opened tuna cans, messy egg shells, and moldy leftovers. Even if you have the best trash bags and deodorizers to mask the stench, the one thing you need is a solid kitchen trash can. See, we think a kitchen trash can should work with your kitchen layout, serve your lifestyle, and of course, keep smells at bay.
As Gary McNatton, co-founder of home design retailer Hudson Grace, told The Spruce, an ideal kitchen trash bin should be "a waste can that is cool, chic, minimal in appearance with a big secret." He adds, "When the lid gently closes, it seals in odors—what you don’t notice about a best-in-class can is its most impressive feature."
With McNatton's advice in hand, we researched the best options, evaluating each trash can's material, capacity, and durability. Our top pick, the Amazon Basics 50 Liter Soft-Close Trash Can, is 50 liters, has a sleek design, and sports a quiet-closing lid. But, if you'd prefer something with more pizzazz, no worries. We’ve got plenty of other options, too!
Amazon Basics 50 Liter / 13.2 Gallon Soft-Close, Smudge Resistant Trash Can with Foot Pedal
Fingerprint-proof and smudge-resistant surface
Steel foot pedal
Stay open mode
Gap between layers may catch crumbs
This stainless steel trash can may not tuck under your counter, but it has a sleek design that’s easy on the eyes. Plus, this garbage bin is hardworking, no matter the size of your family. It’s perfectly suitable for a quiet home that collects trash little by little, and it'll also fit a busy one with lots of active kids and pets.
The lid doesn’t immediately pop open if tipped, but it’s still flexible enough to be user-friendly. The soft-close lid lifts easily and quietly—and you can even leave it open if you need to tackle longer cleaning tasks without any interruptions. Don’t worry about the trash can itself getting dirty. The exterior is fingerprint-proof and smudge-resistant. Plus, the whole thing is made of durable steel, so it won’t get too dinged up over its usable lifetime.
You can even take the removable inner bucket out when its time to clean the trash can. (Something you might want to do regularly because there is a small gap at the back that tends to collect crumbs.) Best of all, this trash can works well with standard 13 gallon, tall kitchen bags, which fit perfectly and tightly around the edge of the inner bucket.
Price at time of publish: $109
Dimensions: 25.9 x 14.7 x 16.7 inches | Material: Stainless steel, plastic | Capacity: 13.2 gallons | Opening Mechanism: Step pedal
Simplehuman Rectangular Voice+Motion Sensor Automatic Kitchen Trash Can
Voice and motion activated
Replacement liners can be stored onboard
Available as a dual option
Quiet while opening and closing
Before you scoff at the price of this trash can, consider the investment you’re making. The Simplehuman Rectangular Voice+Motion Sensor Automatic Kitchen Trash Can is incredibly advanced—more than you could ever dream of with such a utilitarian item, really. The high-tech design features both voice and motion control, so you don’t have to touch a single thing—ideal when you have something like raw chicken in hand.
All you have to do to open the lid is wave your hand or say "open can." (Of course, you can always open it manually, if you want.) We love that it's not at all noisy. The motor, which runs at a whisper-quiet 52 decibels, is powered by an included plug-in adapter or batteries.
It’s undeniably pretty, too—at least as far as trash cans go. The invisible silver-ion coating is resistant to fingerprints, so it'll stay in great shape. And, like most Simplehuman products, this high-tech trash can is backed by a five-year warranty. Plus, you can even opt for a dual version, which conveniently has another receptacle for recycling if you don't have room for a separate recycle bin.
Price at time of publish: $250
Dimensions: 18.5 x 13 x 24.8 inches | Material: Brushed stainless steel | Capacity: 15.3 gallons | Opening Mechanism: Voice, motion, lift
Best for Small Spaces
Brightroom Slim Step Trash Can
Easy to clean
Can be hard to fit larger items
Everyone needs a garbage can, but when you have a small kitchen, it can be tricky to figure out where to exactly put yours. Under the counter, and you’ll lose cabinet space, plus limit capacity. On the floor, and you might have to dance around it all the time. The Brightroom 45L Slim Step Trash Can offers the perfect solution for people who need something compact but efficient.
This garbage receptacle is ultra-slim at just 10.2 inches wide—about half the width of other cans with comparable capacity. Still, it holds 11.9 gallons, which is plenty for the average family. To conserve the most amount of square footage, stick this trash can next to the refrigerator, at the end of a line of cabinets, or even adjacent to an island, if you have one.
Either way, the fingerprint-resistant stainless steel is easy on the eyes and easy to care for, as long as you know how to properly clean it. And, if you ever get a spill, don’t worry: The entire thing is a cinch to wipe down, thanks to a removable liner.
Price at time of publish: $55
Dimensions: 26.5 x 10.2 x 19.9 inches | Material: Stainless steel | Capacity: 11.9 gallons | Opening Mechanism: Step pedal
Mainstays Round Step Trash Can
Sleek stainless steel design
Keeps trash bag firmly in place
No removable liner
If your chief concern is an affordable price tag, you can’t go wrong with the Mainstays Stainless Steel 10.5 Gallon Round Step Trash Can. Though it's on the smaller side at 10 gallons, it’s perfectly suitable for a small family—and even a large one if you don’t mind taking out the trash on a near-daily basis. And it looks just like an expensive one, with its sleek, round stainless steel construction.
It’s super functional, too. This model has a soft-close lid for quiet operation. And although it doesn’t have a removable liner, it does have a plastic drip tray and a separate mechanism on the lid to keep your bag firmly in place.
Price at time of publish: $45
Dimensions: 15.30 x 13.30 x 24.90 inches | Material: Stainless steel, plastic | Capacity: 10.5 gallons | Opening Mechanism: Step pedal
Ninestars DZT-80-35 Automatic Touchless Infrared Motion Sensor Trash Can
Built-in odor protection
Rear bag compartment
Interior rings to secure trash bag
Offered in three sizes
If you need a large receptacle and you have a lot of trash, the Ninestars 21 Gallon Automatic Touchless Infrared Motion Sensor Trash Can is your best bet. The stainless steel trash can has enviable capacity—a whopping 21 gallons, so you won’t have to take out the trash nearly as often.
Still, the unit won’t overwhelm you. It’s not that much larger than other cans on this list—it just has more usable space inside. And because it has such a sleek look, it won’t feel out of place in your kitchen.
There are plenty of convenience features, too. The best of which is a touchless design. The quiet, battery-powered top lifts when it senses motion to keep both you and the garbage can clean. And should it get dirty, simply wipe down the brushed fingerprint-resistant stainless steel to make it look new again.
Price at time of publish: $117
Dimensions: 14.4 x 18.5 x 26.2 inches | Material: Brushed stainless steel | Capacity: 21.1 gallons | Opening Mechanism: Motion
Step N' Sort 16-Gallon 3-Compartment Stainless Steel Trash and Recycling Bin
Separates trash and recycling
Removable inner bins for easy cleaning
Includes sticker pad for labeling
May be difficult to find liners to fit
If you’re looking for a receptacle that makes it easy to separate garbage and recyclables, consider Step N' Sort 3-Compartment Trash Bin. It’s essentially your own personal waste management system. The 16-gallon setup features a durable steel frame and three removable inner bins that keep everything completely separate, but housed in one convenient container.
Each bin has its own heavy-duty step pedal for hands-free opening, so you don’t have to struggle to lift one large, flimsy top. It shuts nicely to keep trash can odors away. What’s more, the rectangle containers feature convenient carry handles that makes it easy to transport the bins for super simple emptying. And if you live in a household where people routinely put the wrong things into the recycling, there’s one more enviable feature you should know about: This garbage can comes with a colored sticker pad so you can label the bins however you see fit.
Price at time of publish: $128
Dimensions: 23 x 13 x 24 inches | Material: Metal, stainless steel | Capacity: 16 gallons | Opening Mechanism: Step pedals (3)
HomeLabs 13 Gallon Automatic Trash Can
Easy to clean
Retainer ring for easy garbage disposal
Includes AC power adapter
Batteries not included
A butterfly trash can is a fantastic option for someone who wants to tuck a freestanding bin out of the way—like under a kitchen island or tall counter. Because the top has split doors rather than a single-raising lid, the bin has better clearance to suit these areas.
This 13-gallon version has all kinds of cool features, too. It automatically opens when motion is detected within six inches, so you can easily throw trash out without getting your hands—or the bin—dirty. You can even adjust the 90-degree sensor ball, so you can open the lids from the top or the side, whatever suits you best. And because it’s made of stainless steel, the trash can is both durable and easy to clean. Also a nice bonus: The unit features an interior retainer ring to keep trash bags securely in place.
If there’s any downside, it’s the price combined with the fact that you have to buy batteries separately should you wish to untether from the included plug-in adapter. (A possible necessity, depending on where you want to place this trash can.)
Price at time of publish: $132
Dimensions: 2 x 10.3 x 22.5 inches | Material: Brushed stainless steel | Capacity: 13 gallons | Opening Mechanism: Motion
Umbra Venti Kitchen Trash Can
Easy to clean
Comes in multiple colors
Not actually metal
Swinging lid does get dirty quickly
Maybe you want something simple, like a classic swing-top design? The Umbra Venti Swing Top is a great pick because it features a lid that swings open and closes smoothly and has a high 16 gallon capacity. The unit is perfect for large families who need to easily dispose of and conceal a lot of trash on a daily basis. You can also use trash can deodorizer packs to ensure no smells escape the swing top.
And although it’s 35 inches tall, it’s just 14.6 inches around, so you can fit the sleek and unobtrusive can in just about any usable corner so it works with a variety of kitchen layouts. While it comes in multiple colors, none of them are actually metal—the color of the plastic just mimics the look of it. But if you can get past the plastic construction, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by all of the benefits. The can is lightweight even as it accommodates a lot of garbage. This makes it both easy to empty and easy to clean—all you have to do is wipe it with a damp cloth.
Price at time of publish: $50
Dimensions: 14.6 x 14.6 x 35 inches | Material: Plastic | Capacity: 16 gallons | Opening Mechanism: Swing top
Rev-A-Shelf RV-18KD-18C S Double 35 Quart Sliding Pull-Out Waste Containers Garbage Trash Recycling Bins
Simple to install
Durable steel frame
Steel handle for easy lifting
Track is pre-assembled
Plenty of color options
It’s no surprise that Rev-A-Shelf makes a high-quality pull-out garbage system. The company is known for all kinds of under-cabinet organizers, from silverware drawers, to spice racks, to pot holders, and beyond.
This pull-out waste container, which comes in a few colors beyond black, is perfect for freeing up space in a tight kitchen. The in-cabinet model holds two cans on a metal tracking system—one for garbage, another for recycling. With this unit installed, you’ll never have to look at your garbage again. When not in use, it stays tucked out of the way, freeing up floor space. When you need it, simply give it a tug and watch as it effortlessly glides out into reach.
Don’t worry about installation—you don’t need a pro. The whole thing can be affixed to your cabinet with just four screws that mount to the cabinet floor. (You can buy a separate door mount kit, if you prefer.)
If there’s any downside to this system, it’s that the two 8.75-gallon canisters are smaller than a standard kitchen trash or recycling can. The unit is best suited for smaller households or people who don’t mind taking out the trash at least once per day.
Price at time of publish: $94+
Dimensions: 22 x 14.4 x 19.3 inches | Material: Alloy steel | Capacity: 8.75 gallons | Opening Mechanism: Pull-out
Best for Composting
Bamboozle Food Compost Bin
Charcoal filter eliminates odors
Replacement filter are an additional cost
Even though you can build your own composter with a regular trash can, this compact composting bucket is both discrete and stylish—exactly what you’d hope for if you’re stashing old, decaying food in your kitchen. Still, the countertop bin is relatively budget-friendly and comes in a variety of colors, offering an excellent value all around.
Of course, it’s super functional, too. The slim bamboo handle allows you to easily carry it to your yard or garden. And once it's full, you'll appreciate the charcoal filter in the lid. It’s designed to help keep odors at bay.
The composter is also dishwasher-safe, so it’s exceptionally easy to clean when it starts to get a little funky. The filter should be replaced every 60 to 90 days, so you’ll have to anticipate that added expense.
Price at time of publish: $40
Dimensions: 8 x 6.3 x 9 inches | Material: Bamboo fiber | Capacity: Not listed | Opening Mechanism: Handled lid
Amazon Basics 50 Liter Soft-Close Trash Can earns our top spot, thanks to its sleek, durable design, high capacity, and quiet soft-closing lid. The stainless steel exterior is also fingerprint-proof and smudge-resistant. If affordability is your top priority, you can’t go wrong with the Mainstays Stainless Steel 10.5 Gallon Round Step Trash Can. It’s similarly sleek and sturdy, but lacks an inner liner and has a slightly smaller capacity.
What to Look for in a Kitchen Trash Can
Size and Capacity
Trash cans are available in many different sizes to suit your space. Generally, a kitchen bin is somewhere between 12 and 16 gallons. In fact, 13-gallon trash bins are the most popular option on the market, and they’re compatible with most standard size trash bags.
When it comes to dimensions, however, all receptacles are not the same. Some have a wide, rectangular shape while others are tall and round. Before buying a kitchen trash can, take measurements of your space to make sure it’s really a good fit.
Butterfly lids, motion sensors, step cans, and swing tops are just a few of the many styles of kitchen trash cans on the market. Before you choose, it's worth considering each of their benefits, your lifestyle, and the size of your space.
Combo bins, such as the Step N' Sort 3-Compartment Trash Bin, make it easy to dispose of trash and recyclables. A voice-activated option is great for a busy household. A step-pedal is a game-changer for cleaning up after meals while a simple plastic pick is perfect for an at-home office. Regardless, there are tons of options out there to suit your space.
Though trash cans come in a variety of materials, plastic and stainless steel are the most common. Plastic styles tend to be less expensive, easy to clean, and lightweight—important factors to consider when choosing one for your home.
Stainless steel designs may have a more stylish look and can have more high-tech qualities, like motion-activation. Although they're more prone to showing fingerprints and smudges, many have a special finish that keeps them looking good.
What is a normal size trash can for a kitchen?
A 7 to 10 gallon-sized trash can should be sufficient for a single or two-person household. A family of three or four will likely need something larger–in the 12 to 16 gallon range–depending on how often you intend to take the trash out. If you have more than four people in your home, it’s probably best to use a 20 to 30 gallon-sized bin as your main receptacle.
Are metal or plastic trash cans better?
The short answer: It’s a matter of personal preference. Metal trash cans may be more durable, but they can also be more expensive and heavier. Plastic trash cans are usually lighter and less expensive, but they may not be as durable. If you’re concerned about cleaning, plastic is easy to rinse out and wipe down. Stainless steel cans typically have more grooves, plus need a little extra attention to look shiny and new with specialized stainless steel cleaning products. If you opt for the latter, look for one with a removable plastic liner to help keep it cleaner in the long run.
Do square or round trash cans hold more?
“In general, a square trash can will hold more than a round trash can with the same dimensions, because it has more internal volume,” says Kate Thrane, a recipe developer with over 10 years of experience in the kitchen. However, a taller, narrower trash can (regardless of whether it is square or round) will hold more than a shorter, wider trash can with the same diameter.
How often should you clean your trash bin?
We think trash cans should be emptied at least weekly, but it's common to empty out kitchen trash cans on a more frequent basis, depending on how much activity is happening in the kitchen. Take the time to inspect your can after you empty it to see if it needs a more thorough cleaning to remove any residue or sticky messes.
Start off by removing the plastic liner and empty the trash can completely. If you can, try to work outdoors, and use a garden hose to conveniently rinse out the trash can. If you must clean it indoors, try cleaning it in a bathtub. For plastic trash cans, sprinkle the rinsed interior with baking soda. The baking soda acts as a mild abrasive to help remove debris and take care of odors. You can use a rag, or try scrubbing with a nylon-bristled brush. You can also add warm water, then use one teaspoon of an all-purpose cleaner or dishwashing liquid for stubborn, sticky messes. Don't forget to use the same solution to wipe down the exterior, too. Then, rinse well and fully dry. For protection against bacteria, spray your can with disinfectant as a final step.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Brigitt Earley, a freelance writer with nearly 15 years of experience writing about consumer products, including kitchen accessories like trash cans. To curate this list, Earley scoured the most popular retailers to find the best, most highly-rated options. Then, she vetted each, reading all of the specs and hundreds of reviews. To make her top picks, she consulted experts like Kate Thrane, a recipe developer with over 10 years of experience in the kitchen, and used that guidance as she analyzed the material, capacity, durability, and overall value of each product.
Additional reporting was conducted by Sage McHugh, a home and lifestyle writer who has been contributing to The Spruce since 2019.