We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
Trash cans are an essential tool for containing waste and reducing foul odors. According to Melissa Homer, The Spruce's Cleaning Review Board member and Chief Cleaning Officer at MaidPro, these vessels "have a dirty job to do that's critical to keeping everyone healthy, but rarely get the respect and attention they deserve. Trash cans are easily one of the top ten most underappreciated items in the home!"
With this humble tool's important role in mind, we spent hours researching and evaluating top trash cans on their capacity, material, ease of care and cleaning, lid type, and overall value. Our top pick, the Amazon Basics Trash Can, has a strong foot pedal that allows for hands-free opening and a silent-close lid. It also has an attractive stainless steel surface that resists smudges.
Here are the best trash cans for a variety of purposes.
Best Overall: Amazon Basics 40 Liter / 10.5 Gallon Soft-Close, Smudge Resistant Trash Can with Foot Pedal
Steel foot pedal
Available in multiple sizes
Trash bags may slip in the canister
The Amazon Basics Trash Can is our top pick, thanks to its sleek stainless steel design, durable construction, and hands-free opening. Measuring 26.38 inches tall by 14.76 inches wide and 13.58 inches deep with a 40-liter (10.5-gallon) capacity, this canister is better suited for smaller households. If you need an ultra-compact trash can, it's also available in 10-liter and 20-liter (2.6- and 5.3-gallon) sizes.
This trash can has a soft-closing lid for quiet operation and opens via a steel foot pedal, which allows for hands-free, hygienic use. It also features stay-open technology so you can replace the bags and dispose of trash without interruption. This feature can come in handy when performing longer cleaning tasks.
Owners say the trash can is compatible with tall garbage bags, but some report that bags slip into the canister. However, thanks to slide-groove handles on the removable inner bin, trash bag removal is practically effortless. The plastic inner bin also helps to contain odors, prevent messes, and it’s easy to clean—which is another big plus. To top it all off, the brushed stainless steel exterior is resistant to smudges and fingerprints, so it will maintain its sleekness and shine in the face of everyday use.
Best Budget: Rubbermaid Commercial Products 10.25 Gallon Wastebasket
Sturdy plastic design
Offered in multiple colors and sizes
Doesn't include a lid
If you’re on a budget and looking for an affordable option, the Rubbermaid Commercial Products 10.25 Gallon Wastebasket is a great choice. Made of high-quality plastic, it won’t chip, rust, or dent. Measuring 20 inches tall by 15.25 inches wide and 11.25 inches deep, it’s compact enough to fit under most sinks and standard-height desks, making it an ideal choice for kitchens and offices. At a little over 2 pounds, it’s also incredibly lightweight, so it’s easy to lift and empty out.
The only downside is that it doesn’t include a lid, so you won’t be able to conceal the contents of your trash or fully suppress odors. However, it's available in three sizes and three colors to suit a variety of needs. This Rubbermaid wastebasket is more utilitarian than most of our other picks, but it’s equally suitable for home and commercial use.
Best Value: Ninestars DZT-80-35 Automatic Touchless Infrared Motion Sensor Trash Can
Elegant stainless steel design
Built-in manual mode
Batteries not included
If you’re interested in a hands-free trash can that won’t break the bank, the Ninestars DZT-80-35 offers touchless operation along with other convenient features. This trash can has a brushed stainless steel finish, making it as elegant as it is functional. What’s more, the fingerprint-resistant design keeps it looking shiny after repeated use. Measuring 26.9 inches tall and 18.6 inches wide, this trash can has a generous 80-liter (21-gallon) capacity, making it an excellent choice for bigger households. Despite its large size, it is fairly lightweight at less than 10 pounds, making it easy to move and clean as needed. Note that this unit requires three D batteries, which, unfortunately, aren’t included.
The lid opens via a motion sensor and closes silently every time. If you need to tackle bigger cleaning tasks, you can use the built-in manual mode to keep the lid open longer. A removable ring liner holds trash bags securely in place and keeps them neatly concealed within the canister. This unit is compatible with standard-size trash bags, but you have the option to purchase customized liners from the manufacturer. We found a few reports of technical issues, particularly with the lid not working. However, this product comes with two-year warranty protection.
Best Dual-Compartment: simplehuman Rectangular Dual Compartment Recycling Kitchen Step Trash Can, 46 Liter
Separates trash and recycling
Removable inner buckets
Simplehuman liners may provide a better fit
The Simplehuman Rectangular Dual Compartment Rectangular Step Can is a versatile option with two compartments to separate waste and recycling. With a 46-liter capacity, it’s a great choice for small to medium-sized households. Made of stainless steel and measuring 25.7 inches tall and 19.8 inches wide, this unit has a sleek design that works well in a kitchen. The bin comes with a strong steel pedal for hands-free opening. For added convenience, the lid stays open as long as you need it to and closes silently. Rubber pads at the base keep the bin securely in place and prevent it from damaging floors.
At 17.6 pounds, this unit is on the heavier side and may be difficult to maneuver—particularly when full. However, the inner buckets lift out for easy emptying and cleaning, and the fingerprint-proof finish keeps it looking shiny after everyday use. Some say this unit isn’t compatible with standard-size trash bags, but you can purchase customized liners from the manufacturer to ensure a proper fit.
Best Large: GLAD Stainless Steel Step Trash Can with Clorox Odor Protection
Built-in odor protection
Rear bag compartment
Interior rings to secure trash bag
Available in three finishes
If you need a larger receptacle, the Glad Stainless Steel Step Trash Can offers an impressive 76-liter (20-gallon) capacity. “If you have lots of kids or pets or love to cook from scratch three meals a day, you might benefit from a large 20-gallon unit,” advises Homer. In addition to its generous size, this model has built-in Clorox protection to prevent unwanted odors—a must-have feature for busy households. This unit comes equipped with a foot pedal for hands-free, hygienic operation, and the stay-open lid is ideal for longer cleaning tasks—and closes quietly as well.
Note that this trash can doesn’t have an inner bucket; interior rings secure the bag in place and prevent it from slipping down. There is a waste bag compartment on the back of the canister that you can use to store extra garbage bags discreetly. The unit dispenses trash bags on the side for neat and easy removal. This Glad trash can comes in several different finishes to match almost any decor, and the stainless steel construction is resistant to fingerprints. Weighing over 18 pounds, it’s no big surprise that this unit is on the heavier side, considering its large capacity. It’s also available in a smaller, 13-gallon version with the same convenient features.
Best Pull-Out: Simplehuman 8 Gallon Under Counter Kitchen Cabinet Pull-Out Trash Can
Simple to install
Durable steel frame
Steel handle for easy lifting
Track is pre-assembled
Are you interested in freeing up valuable floor space? “If you’re looking to conceal your trash can, you may want to consider a pull-out option which can be installed beneath a bathroom or kitchen sink,” says Shira Gill, organizing expert and author of Minimalista. The Simplehuman Under Counter Kitchen Cabinet Trash Can saves space and keeps your garbage neatly concealed. This durable receptacle features a plastic bin encased in a steel frame that can withstand plenty of wear and tear. The integrated steel handle makes it easy to lift and empty.
Thanks to a pre-assembled, one-piece track, this unit is straightforward to install. Once it’s in place, it glides smoothly on commercial-grade ball-bearing tracks, allowing easy access to the canister. With a 30-liter (8-gallon) capacity, this pull-out unit is smaller than standard trash cans. If you live in a busy household, you will likely need to empty it more frequently. It’s also available in a dual-compartment version that features separate bins for waste and recycling. For added peace of mind, Simplehuman backs this product with a five-year warranty.
Best for Kitchen: simplehuman Rectangular Step Can with Liner Pocket
Sleek, durable build
Antimicrobial coating to resist bacteria and other
Steel foot pedal for hands-free operation
Available in four colors and three sizes
Pricier than some options
Proprietary liners offer best fit
This stainless steel simplehuman 45-liter Rectangular Step Can has a sleek design that blends seamlessly into a modern kitchen. Measuring 25.8 inches tall by 15.9 inches wide by 13.3 inches deep, its unique shape isn’t compatible with standard-size trash bags. However, you can also purchase customized liners from the manufacturer to guarantee a proper fit. A soft-close lid ensures that it closes quietly every time, and if you keep your foot on the pedal, the lid will stay open as long as you need it to.
A strong steel foot pedal allows for hands-free operation, and there’s no inner bucket, which allows more room for trash. Another great feature is the fingerprint-proof finish, which keeps the trash can looking shiny even with everyday use. This 45-liter can is compatible with the simplehuman’s Odorsorb pods for keeping smells at bay and is also coated with an antimicrobial agent to prevent bacteria, mildew, fungi, and mold from forming. Another bonus: simplehuman backs this product with a ten-year warranty, ensuring years of reliable use. This trash can is available in four colors and two other sizes—including a 58-liter rectangular recycler and a 55-liter trash can—to suit a variety of needs.
Best for Bathroom: simplehuman 1.6 Gallon Semi-Round Bathroom Step Trash Can
Foot pedal for hands-free opening
Removable inner bucket
Available in multiple colors
Well-fitting trash bags can be hard to find
The Semi-Round Step Can from simplehuman is an ideal size for almost any bathroom. Its stainless steel exterior creates an elegant aesthetic, and a fingerprint-proof finish keeps it looking shiny in the face of everyday use. The steel foot pedal allows for hands-free operation–a great way to maintain hygiene where you need it most. When it comes time to empty the trash, you can remove the inner bucket for easy disposal.
This trash can comes in four versatile color options (rose gold, black, white, and polished stainless steel) to match almost any decor. With a 6-liter capacity, this trash can is on the smaller side, but it should be just fine for your bathroom needs. However, it may be tricky to find compatible trash bags. Some users say standard plastic grocery bags work well enough. The manufacturer offers customized liners, but some users complain that they aren’t the best fit and don’t fully conceal the bag.
Best for Home Office: Rolodex Mesh Round Wastebasket
Reports of dents upon arrival
Thanks to durable mesh construction, this Rolodex Mesh Round Wastebasket is perfect for containing dry waste. It holds 17 liters (4.5 gallons) of trash and has a contemporary round design, making it a solid choice for home offices. Measuring approximately 14 inches tall by 11 inches in diameter, this unit is compact enough to tuck under a desk or table. Solid metal edging reinforces the black mesh to enhance durability. Its base is also sturdy enough to prevent the trash can from tipping over.
If you’re using this trash can strictly for dry waste, you don’t have to line it with a plastic bag. With a weight of just 1 pound, it’s easy to lift and empty. Since this wastebasket is part of Rolodex’s mesh line, you can also purchase matching accessories such as pencil holders, letter trays, and laptop stands. While most people praise its sturdy design and practical functionality, some noticed some dents in the can when it arrived.
Best for Car: HOTOR Car Trash Can with Lid and Storage Pockets
Leak-proof inner lining
Three pockets for additional storage
Magnetic buckles secure trash bags
Lacks structured sides
May be too bulky for compact cars
If you need a vessel to contain trash in your vehicle, the Hotor Car Trash Can is up to the task. Measuring 10.2 inches tall, 7.9 inches wide, and 5.5 inches deep and featuring a collapsible design, this trash can takes up minimal space while providing a 7.6-liter (2-gallon) capacity. It has an adjustable strap that can be attached to the front or back headrest or the center console. Made of nylon with Oxford cloth and leather detailing, it’s easy to empty and wipe clean. And thanks to a leak-proof inner lining, you don’t have to worry about food spills or stains on your car’s interior. While most users praise the design, a few complain that it’s too soft and lacks the structure to secure their items.
Several trash bags come included, and users say the unit is compatible with standard grocery bags. Four magnetic buckles hold the trash bag securely in place, which is another convenient design feature. In addition to the trash canister, this unit has three pockets for extra storage. You can also use it as a storage bag for cups, snacks, toys, and other accessories. It seems to work well in most vehicles, but it may be too bulky in a compact car. If you need more space, this automotive trash can is also available in an 11-liter (3-gallon) version.
Best for Pet Owners: iTouchless 13 Gallon Sensor Trash Can with Pet-Proof Lid
Touch-free, hygienic operation
Carbon filter prevents odors
Lid can be locked to deter pets
Filters and AC adapter are an additional cost
This 49-liter (13-gallon) Sensor Trash Can from iTouchless is a brushed stainless steel receptacle durable enough to accommodate a busy household with children and pets. It opens with a wave of your hand, allowing for hygienic, touch-free operation. If you're standing within 6 inches of the unit, the lid will open automatically and close when you walk away. You can also lock the lid to prevent pets from rifling through the trash. Another great feature is the replaceable activated carbon filter, which effectively keeps odors at bay when replaced every three months. While this feature requires an additional cost, the trash can comes with one filter to get you started.
Unlike many of our other picks, this trash can's sensor can run on four D batteries or plug into a wall outlet if you purchase a separate AC adapter. According to the manufacturer, the battery life is three times that of other sensor cans, which means they only need to be replaced every one to two years.
Best Outdoor: Rubbermaid Commercial Products Brute 50 Gal. Grey Rollout Trash Can with Lid
Ergonomic handle for comfortable operation
Four sturdy wheels with treads
Lid doesn’t lock
The Rubbermaid Commercial Products Brute Rollout Container is a heavy-duty trash can built to withstand weather and wear. The high-quality plastic design is infused with a UV inhibitor to prevent warping from sun exposure and can withstand freezing temperatures. The 189-liter (50-gallon) capacity can accommodate a good deal of waste, making it ideal for larger households as well as commercial use. The bin features four wheels with treads, allowing it to roll smoothly even on rough terrain. An ergonomic rear handle makes it easier to push or pull, and the reinforced rim and tough lid provide structural integrity and optimal durability.
The Rubbermaid Brute is available in multiple colors and sizes to suit various needs. It’s also compatible with auto-lifting garbage trucks, further adding to its convenience. Thanks to smooth contours and seamless construction, it’s easy to clean. The only downside to this trash can is that it doesn’t have a locking lid, which means it’s susceptible to raccoons and other nosy critters.
Our top pick is The Amazon Basics Trash Can, thanks to its array of convenient features, including hands-free opening and soft-close lid. Plus, its stainless steel design makes it a sleek addition to any room in your home. The Rubbermaid Commercial Products 10.25 Gallon Wastebasket is a great option if you’re looking for something more basic and budget-friendly. It’s sturdy, durable, and easy to lift and empty.
What to Look For in a Trash Can
The right-size trash can depends on two main factors: the number of people in your household and where you intend to put it in your home. A 49-liter (13-gallon) trash can is the most common option on the market, and most are compatible with standard-size trash bags. If you’re using the trash can in a smaller room that doesn’t generate a lot of waste, such as a bathroom or office, consider a smaller unit with a 19-liter (5-gallon) capacity or less.
For busier areas like a kitchen or garage, you’ll likely need a trash can in the range of a 49-liter (13-gallon) capacity. If you live in a large household with four or more people, a unit with an extra-large capacity of 53 to 76 liters (14 to 20 gallons) may be necessary to handle the volume of waste produced.
Trash cans come in a variety of materials, but stainless steel and plastic are the most common options. Plastic tends to be less expensive, easier to clean, and lighter in weight. On the downside, it is less durable than stainless steel and more prone to cracking in extreme temperatures. “Make sure to opt for trash cans that are not only durable and functional but also match the aesthetics of your home,” says Gill. “Woven options or wire mesh work well in a home office, while stainless steel is generally ideal for kitchens, bathrooms, or deep storage areas like garages.”
Stainless steel trash cans offer a more modern aesthetic and are typically higher in price. More advanced models have high-tech features such as motion sensor activation. Stainless steel is more prone to showing fingerprints and other marks, which makes it trickier to clean, but some cans have a special finish that resists smudges. A stainless steel trash can will likely be heavier than a plastic one–another important factor to consider. If weight is a concern, consider a model that rolls around on wheels.
A trash can that allows for hands-free opening is the most hygienic option. Many units have a foot pedal for this purpose, but more advanced models are entirely touchless and operate by motion sensors or voice control. A soft-close lid ensures quiet operation and could be a welcome feature in any home, especially one with rambunctious children.
“If you have pets or curious toddlers, consider investing in a trash can with a lid lock to reduce the chance of overturned messes,” advises Homer. Another convenient feature is a stay-open lid, which enables you to perform longer cleaning tasks without interruptions.
Liners and Extra Features
Since trash cans come in unique shapes and sizes, they might not be compatible with standard-size trash bags. Some manufacturers offer customized liners that won’t bunch up around the lid or slip into the can. “Trash cans have come a long way, and you can now source options that include concealed liner storage, dividers for recycling, interior rings to secure trash bags in place,” says Gill.
A unit with an onboard storage compartment for trash bags offers easy refill access and helps to keep things tidy, and dual bins make it easy to dispose of trash and recyclables in one container. And if you’re interested in advanced features, smart technology such as motion sensors and voice commands can be convenient and help cut down on germs in a busy household.
How do you clean a trash can?
First, remove any stray food particles or debris from the empty can. Next, add some liquid dish soap dissolved in water, and leave to soak for a few minutes. Then scrub the inside of the can wearing gloves to protect your hands, pour out the dirty, soapy water, and check to make sure you didn’t miss anything before wiping down the outside of the trash can to remove any spills. Finally, rinse with water and allow to air dry or wipe entirely dry before adding a fresh bag and closing it up. To clean an outside trash can, regular upkeep with a power hose should do the trick.
How do you keep maggots out of a trash can?
The best way to keep maggots (fly larvae) out of a trash can is to reduce food waste. Rotting food produces methane gas that attracts flies, who proceed to lay their larvae on the rotting food, which in turn becomes an all-you-can-eat buffet for the maggots. If you must throw raw food into a trash can, and your trash pickup isn’t on a daily schedule, be sure to seal the bag tightly before dropping it in the bin.
Maggots thrive in hot weather, so be particularly mindful of letting food waste languish in a trash can in the dog days of summer. And don’t forget to regularly clean your trash can and remove any stray food debris as soon as you spot it. According to Homer, there are some other things you can do to deter maggots. Wrap up meat and thoroughly rinse food containers before placing them in the trash, keep your can in a cool spot out of direct sunlight, and invest in a trash can with a lid that seals tightly.
What size trash can should you get for your kitchen?
That depends on the size of your kitchen. In a studio apartment with limited floor space, your best bet might be a compact under-sink trash can that fits snugly to maximize storage capacity. If you want to keep the trash can out of sight in a larger kitchen with more under-sink space to work with, choose a larger model that fits in your cabinet. If you don’t mind having a visible trash can, a freestanding model can work in a large family kitchen with enough space to keep it in a designated area that is convenient but won’t impede foot traffic.
How do you throw out a trash can?
"Ironically, eventually all trash receptacles eventually become trash themselves," notes Homer. "Most trash cans are not recyclable, so they just need to be disposed of like any large item." Put the trash can on your curb upside down and place a sign on it that says "for disposal," and your collectors will take it. You can also take it to your local dump or local recycling center. Alternatively, you can repurpose it for another room in your house or outdoor storage if you want.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Sage McHugh, a home and lifestyle writer who has been contributing to The Spruce since 2019. To select the best trash cans on the market, she considered dozens of products, carefully evaluating their material, capacity, lid type, and overall value. Sage consulted hundreds of customer reviews, as well as write-ups from third-party websites.
For expert insight on incorporating trash cans into a home’s aesthetic, she consulted with Shira Gill, an organizing expert, and author of Minimalista. For the best cleaning practices, she interviewed Melissa Homer, a Trained Cleaning Professional and member of The Spruce's Cleaning Review board.