A reliable trash bag will keep your garbage securely contained and prevent it from stinking up your home. The wrong bag, however, could leave you with a big mess on your hands—quite literally. “Selecting the correct trash bags can make all the difference for the cleanliness of your home and the environment, so it's worth taking a moment to research and do it right,” says Melissa Homer, The Spruce’s Cleaning Review Board member and Chief Cleaning Officer at MaidPro.
When researching the best trash bags, we evaluated products for their material, capacity, durability, scent, and overall value. Our best overall pick, Glad ForceFlex Tall Kitchen Drawstring Trash Bags, offers excellent durability along with leak and odor protection.
Here are the best trash bags to contain messes and unwanted smells.
Best Overall: Glad ForceFlex Tall Kitchen Drawstring Trash Bags, 13 Gallon, Unscented
Sturdy, leakproof design
Flexible and tear-resistant to accommodate larger loads
Some issues with the drawstring
Not the cheapest option
Featuring Glad’s innovative ForceFlex technology, these 13-gallon trash bags earn the top spot in our roundup. Dual-layer protection helps ensure that sharp objects don’t puncture or tear the plastic. The flexible design also allows the bag to hold larger loads of garbage. With a reinforced bottom and side seals, these bags are designed to trap liquids and prevent leaks. These trash bags are also equipped with Glad’s proprietary OdorShield technology, which prevents foul smells from permeating your kitchen.
For added convenience, they have a drawstring that fits securely on the rim of the trash can to keep it in place. While the drawstring can make it easier to take out the trash once it’s full, rips and tears can occur in the area around the drawstring, so you’ll want to lift the bag carefully when removing it from the trash can.
Measuring 22.28 by 25.39 inches, they’re wide enough to fit most kitchen trash cans up to 2 feet tall, though. Their size is relatively equivalent to simplehuman’s H, J, K, M, and N liners, which makes them a great solution for those with a beloved simplehuman trash can, as well.
Price at time of publishing: $30
Best Budget: Amazon Basics Tall Kitchen Drawstring Trash Bags, 13 Gallon, Unscented
Strong and sturdy design
Won’t slip into trash can
Don’t neutralize odors
Thick plastic is more wasteful
These Amazon Basics trash bags cost significantly less than higher-end trash bags, but they do a solid job of containing garbage nonetheless. Measuring 24 inches wide and 27.37 inches tall, the 13-gallon bags are designed to fit most tall kitchen trash cans. These bags lack some of the advanced features you’ll find on pricier trash bags, such as flex and odor control. However, with a 0.9-mil bag thickness, they still offer a good amount of durability. They are available in packs of 120 or 200, giving you plenty of bang for your buck.
The trash bags have a drawstring at the top for easy tying and carrying. When secured around the rim, the drawstring can also prevent bags from slipping into the trash can, which is a major plus. Now, these bags aren’t immune to defects like split seams and broken drawstrings, and for that reason, you might want to avoid overloading the bag and be cautious when taking the trash out. The bags will also be eligible for return on Amazon—it may be a good idea to familiarize yourself with the return policy and procedure in case you run into any issues.
Price at time of publishing: $20
Best Eco-Friendly: Hippo Sak Tall Kitchen Bags with Handles, 13 Gallon, Unscented
Made with plant-based materials
Fit trash cans snugly
Wide handles for easy lifting
Don’t neutralize odors
Made with plant-based materials, Hippo Sak’s Tall Kitchen Bags are an eco-friendly alternative to plastic trash bags. Thanks to a patented PowerStrip feature at the bottom, liquids are less likely to leak into the bottom of the can. Extra-wide, thick handles make the bags easier to lift, tie, and carry. They also feature a snug design, which allows the bag’s opening to grip the trash can and stay securely in place.
With a 1.02-mil thickness, Hippo Sak’s Tall Kitchen Bags are thick, durable, and resistant to punctures. Note that these bags are 100 percent recyclable, but you have to empty out any non-recyclable items before putting them in the recycle bin. Although the unscented bags aren’t designed to neutralize or mask odors, they do a great job of containing stinky trash smells, too.
Price at time of publishing: $17
Best Compostable: BioBag The Original Compostable Bag, 13 Gallon
Biodegradable Products Institute certified
Compatible with home compost systems
Slightly thinner than other options
No handles or drawstring
Made with plant starches, vegetable oils, and fully compostable polymers, BioBags are an excellent choice for sustainable trash disposal. Certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute, these bags meet ASTM D6400 standards, which means they can be sufficiently composted by commercial or municipal composting facilities. Unlike regular plastic bags, which don’t easily break down, BioBags are designed to be processed by microorganisms that naturally occur in the soil. They also come in streamlined packaging to further reduce waste.
With a capacity of 13 gallons, these bags fit most standard kitchen trash cans. Because they don’t have handles or a drawstring closure, they’re not as easy to carry as other options on our list. These compostable bags are also significantly thinner than many plastic trash bags, which may make them more prone to rips and odors. On a positive note, they are a win for the environment and any household that’s looking for a greener option to add to their cleaning supplies list.
Price at time of publishing: $25
Best Small: Glad Small Kitchen Drawstring Trash Bags, 4 Gallon, Febreze Beachside Breeze
Thicker bottom to prevent leaks
Thinner than other options
Can rip around the drawstring
With a 4-gallon capacity and 17-by-18-inch overall size, these drawstring trash bags from Glad are a better fit for small trash cans you may have in your kitchen, bathroom, or even a dorm room. Constructed with Glad’s signature OdorShield technology and a “beachside breeze” scent, they can help combat some of the toughest trash odors. These bags are lined with thicker plastic at the bottom to prevent leaks. Plus, they have a drawstring that ensures a secure fit on trash cans. The drawstring can be cinched closed for easy removal and carrying.
We read some reports that these bags tend to rip around the drawstring—a fairly common complaint with Glad products. With a 0.5-mil thickness, these bags are thinner than most kitchen trash bags, which makes them more prone to rips and tears if overstuffed. However, they are more than capable for lighter-duty jobs.
Price at time of publishing: $12
Best Large: Hefty Strong Large Trash Bags, 30 Gallon, Unscented
If you’re in need of a more spacious bag, the Hefty Strong 30-gallon Trash Bags are a great choice for large receptacles and bigger cleanups. Composed of thick 1.05-mil plastic, these heavy-duty bags provide reliable protection against rips and leaks. Although they aren’t treated with any type of odor protection, the material is thick enough to contain foul smells. Plus, the convenient drawstring closure makes it easier to transport heavy loads to the curb.
Due to their large size and thick plastic construction, they’re definitely not the best choice for the environment. “It is important to resist the urge to buy the thickest, strongest bags for everyday trash all the time, as it wastes a bunch of plastic that can't be recycled,” Homer advises. However, these large multipurpose trash bags come in handy for tackling heftier indoor and outdoor cleaning jobs you may be faced with.
Price at time of publishing: $21
Best Heavy-Duty: Hefty Ultra Strong Tall Kitchen Trash Bags, 13 Gallon, Lavender and Sweet Vanilla Scent
Thick yet flexible construction
Double odor protection
Scent is too strong for some
Seams can have defects
Hefty’s 13-gallon Ultra Strong kitchen trash bags are tough enough to handle heavy loads. These bags have a lavender and vanilla scent and are infused with Arm & Hammer to neutralize odors and keep your kitchen smelling fresh. Thanks to their thick, flexible design, they can also expand as they’re filled to accommodate large loads with less chance of tearing.
Another great feature of these bags is a drawstring, which securely cinches the bag closed for easy carrying. Now, you may find that the scent is a bit overwhelming or that your bags have an ill-fitting seam, which causes them to split or rip. That said, Hefty stands by their products, offering a money-back guarantee if you aren’t satisfied with your purchase.
Price at time of publishing: $15
Best Scented: Glad ForceFlex Protection Series Tall Trash Bags, 13 Gallon, Gain Moonlight Breeze with Febreze Scent
Made with Gain and Febreze scents
Material is designed to stretch
Bags can tear
These Glad ForceFlex Trash Bags combine fresh scents from Gain and Febreze to combat odors effectively, making them our top scented pick. They also offer Glad’s signature ForceFlex technology, which prevents the bags from tearing even when they’re exposed to sharp edges and heavy loads of trash. The side seals and bottom of the bags are constructed to prevent breakage and leaks. That said, unexpected rips and tears can happen, but these bags deliver a stellar performance on the whole.
The 13-gallon size is an ideal fit for tall kitchen trash cans up to two feet high. These bags are compatible with a variety of simplehuman trash cans and are similar in size to simplehuman’s H, J, K, M, and N liners. The drawstring is another handy feature because it keeps the bag secure in the can and makes it easier to carry when it’s time to unload the trash.
Price at time of publishing: $23
Best for Diapers: Ubbi Disposable Diaper Sacks, Lavender Scent
Portable and easily disposable
Pleasant lavender scent
Not that effective at containing odors
These small disposable diaper sacks from Ubbi are perfect to use at home or take on the go. Measuring 4.5 by 7.5 by 5 inches, they are the ideal size for diapers or pet waste. They come in packs of 200 or 400, so you’ll always have plenty on hand and get a good bang for your buck. The bags have a fresh lavender scent to mask unpleasant odors. With two easy-to-tie tabs at the top of the bag, cleaning up waste is a breeze, too.
Ubbi Disposable Diaper Sacks are made from plastic, but they contain 20 percent recycled material—making them a bit more eco-friendly. While the manufacturer doesn’t list the thickness measurement, these bags are on the thin side and don’t contain odors all that well, even though they’re scented. This can be a major deal breaker for those looking to dispose of diapers, and you’ll likely want to invest in a diaper pail or bring the bags immediately to your outside trash if you’re worried about any lingering smells.
Price at time of publishing: $8
The Glad ForceFlex Tall Kitchen Drawstring Trash Bags earn our top spot because they’re durable, flexible, and effectively contain odors. If you’re looking to spend a bit less, the Amazon Basics Tall Kitchen Drawstring Trash Bags are another great option for keeping garbage contained—though they lack any sort of odor protection.
What to Look for in a Trash Bag
Amount in Package
To determine which trash bags give you the most value for your money, compare the amount in the package with the overall cost. Getting a bulk pack with a higher number of bags will reduce the number of times you need to reorder, which will likely save you money in the long run. Not to mention, if you’re hoping to stock up on bags for a particular cleaning task—say, gathering up fall leaves or cleaning up an apartment before a move—the amount can be useful to take note of so you have everything you need start to finish (and you don’t have to run out to the store in the middle of a project).
Material and Thickness
The thickness of a trash bag is typically measured in mils, which is equal to 0.001 inch. “While some premium products might be thicker, most residential waste basket bags are 0.5 [mils] thick,” notes Melissa Homer, The Spruce’s Cleaning Review Board member and Chief Cleaning Officer at MaidPro. “Kitchen trash bags are around 0.75 [mils] to 0.9 [mils], and trash barrel bags are 1 [mils] to 1.5 [mils],” Homer notes. The thicker the trash bag, the more durable it is, so trash bags with a higher “mils” count will be less susceptible to rips and punctures. “As a general rule,'' says Homer, “let the box tell you what it's good for, as most manufacturers will boast if they’ve made a heavier duty bag for sharp and leaky trash.”
Some trash bags are made of recycled materials, a more sustainable choice than standard plastic options. Alternatively, you can opt for compostable trash bags—like our “best compostable” pick, The Original Compostable Bag from BioBag. Look for a bag like this one that meets the ASTM D6400 specification, which indicates that the bag can be composted in commercial or municipal composting facilities. If you plan to compost the bags at home, consider getting a bag with additional certification, such as TÜV AUSTRIA’s “OK compost HOME” certification, so you know the material will fully break down via a backyard composting system. Homer also points out, “Compostable bags are even better for the environment, but they require the user to use a curbside composting service or compost in their backyard to work, as compostable bags won't decompose properly trapped in a landfill.”
Size and Capacity
To prevent leaks, spills, and slippage, it’s important to select a trash bag that’s the appropriate size for your trash can. Most standard kitchen trash cans require 13-gallon trash bags. If you have a simplehuman trash can, many 13-gallon tall kitchen bags will also work with your receptacle, but it will depend on which model you have. With that in mind, you should always cross-reference the trash can and bag dimensions to ensure a workable fit. Meanwhile, 4- to 10-gallon trash bags—including our “best small” pick, Glad Small Kitchen Drawstring Trash Bags—will likely work best for smaller trash cans, such as those in a bathroom or office. Large garbage bags intended for use in outdoor garbage cans typically fall within the 20- to 30-gallon range. Our top pick for large bags is Hefty Strong Large Trash Bags.
Scent and Odor Control
Many trash bags have some sort of odor-fighting capability, and scents are often used to mask odors. Common scents for trash bags include lavender, vanilla, and citrus. Some bags also incorporate treatments to help neutralize odors, such as Glad’s proprietary OdorShield technology.
Are trash bags recyclable?
“Sadly, plastic trash bags are not recyclable once they are used, as they are too dirty to be processed into new material,” Homer says. If you’re looking for a greener option, Homer recommends buying a trash bag made of recycled plastic “as it helps use up all the accumulating recyclable plastic that's not getting processed.”
Where can you buy simplehuman trash bags?
If you own one of simplehuman’s TikTok-famous trash cans, you’ll want to keep extra trash bags on hand. You can buy simplehuman trash liners directly from the manufacturer or from a variety of other retailers, including Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Walmart, and Home Depot. simplehuman offers custom liners for every can that they make, ensuring a perfect fit.
While purchasing the corresponding simplehuman liner will ensure a perfect fit, it’s possible to use trash bags from other brands with your simplehuman can. Just make sure to closely look at the dimensions and capacity of your trash can before you choose a replacement bag. Notably, the Glad ForceFlex Tall Kitchen Drawstring Trash Bags and Glad ForceFlex Protection Series Tall Trash Bags on our list are compatible with some simplehuman trash cans.
How do you know what size your trash can is?
Typically, at the bottom of your trash can, you can find its size listed in gallons. You could also contact the manufacturer for information on the exact dimensions and capacity.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Sage McHugh, a commerce writer and product tester for The Spruce. To select the best trash bags on the market, she considered dozens of products, carefully evaluating their material, capacity, durability, scent, and overall value. Sage consulted hundreds of customer reviews, as well as write-ups from third-party websites. For expert insight on trash bags, she interviewed Melissa Homer, Chief Cleaning Officer at MaidPro and member of The Spruce's Cleaning Review Board.