A trash compactor is a helpful appliance that can save you time, effort, and trash bags when it comes to the disposing of household garbage. You can pick from powerful models with a built-in motor for crushing trash or a simple manual model that requires no installation or electricity. Here's why you need one: This handy device can save space in your trash bag and reduces the number of trips to the garbage or recycling bins—or, depending on where you live, possibly even the dump.
When it comes to picking the best trash compactor for your home and budget, there are a variety of options to select from. Steven Ip, a cleaning professional and the owner of Cleanzen in Boston, says, "The type of trash compactors we see the most are the under-the-counter ones, but there have been more freestanding and convertible ones in recent years, as well."
We researched all types of trash compactors from the most popular appliance brands, evaluating ease of installation and use, efficiency, and overall value. Read on to find out which ones made our list!
Jenn-Air Panel-Ready 15 in. Trash Compactor
5:1 compaction ratio with solid pack feature
Fan with charcoal filter for odor reduction
Toe bar to open and start the compactor
Hidden control panel
Only available as a panel-ready model
For high-end kitchens, choose a trash compactor that will seamlessly blend in while efficiently reducing trash volume. Our choice is the Jenn-Air TC607X. This panel-ready trash compactor is designed to be finished with a custom panel that matches your cabinetry and has concealed controls to further enhance the built-in look. It costs more than most trash compactors on the market at nearly $2,000, but it’s worth the splurge if you want a powerful compactor that reduces waste volume without sticking out.
The Jenn-Air Panel-Ready Trash Compactor is equipped with the most advanced features, like a solid pack function that achieves up to a 5:1 compacting ratio and sound dampening to ensure that the operation of the compactor isn’t a nuisance. In addition to reducing noise, this built-in trash compactor cuts back on odors by means of a fan and charcoal filter. Fully depressing the toe bar opens the 1.4-cubic-foot compactor drawer while a light tap with your foot starts the compactor. Once full, release the side latch of the compactor drawer to remove the bag—rather than pulling it up and out, which can lead to the bag ripping or tearing.
Keep in mind that the Jenn-Air TC607X is only available as a panel-ready model, which may limit its appeal for shoppers looking for a black, white, or stainless steel trash compactor. Still, it has power and capacity on its side, earning it a spot as best overall.
Price at time of publish: $1,899
Dimensions: 24 x 15 x 34.125 inches | Trash Capacity: 1.4 cubic feet | Compacting Force: Not listed | Finish Material: Panel-ready
Household Essentials Trash Krusher Manual Trash Compactor
Locking mechanism to hold lid open
Trash tamper can be removed for cleaning
Trash tamper must be snapped back into lid
Issues with slow-close lid
A manual trash compactor like the sleek Trash Krusher from Household Essentials gives you the ability to decrease the volume of your trash without the need to buy a pricey or built-in motorized trash compactor. We love that this model uses standard kitchen garbage bags and has the same capacity as most other trash compactors on the market—at 1.4 cubic feet. There are no special bags to buy or installation requirements to stress about. The Trash Krusher is as easy to set up as a typical kitchen garbage can.
This freestanding trash compactor looks and functions similarly to a standard foot-pedal trash can, but the lid contains an insert that serves as a trash tamper. Grasp the handle, push down, and crush the trash in the bag below. Then, snap the tamper back into the place. The tamper can require a firm pull to secure it back into place or else it falls into the trash below. The soft close lid is a user-friendly touch, but sometimes the closing mechanism fails, resulting in the lid slamming shut. Luckily, Household Essentials backs the Trash Krusher Manual Compactor with a 10-year warranty, so as long as you retain your proof of purchase, many of these functional failures can be remedied under the warranty.
Price at time of publish: $175
Dimensions: 26 x 16 x 13 inches | Trash Capacity: 1.4 cubic feet | Compacting Force: Not applicable | Finish Material: Stainless steel
GE UCG1500NBB 15 in. Built-In Trash Compactor
More capacity than other models
Available in multiple finishes
Removable drawer for cleaning
Designed for undercounter installation only
No solid pack feature
This built-in trash compactor from GE is priced more affordably than most other motorized options, but delivers similar results. It has a 1/3 horsepower motor that exerts 2,300 pounds of force to eliminate air and reduce volume from waste. Hidden controls keep the look of this undercounter trash compactor clean and simple, and a foot pedal provides easy access to the 1.4-cubic-foot compactor can and the control panel.
The GE UCG1500NBB trash compactor costs just over $1,000. It reduces the volume of household trash by up to 75 percent, but it should be noted that it doesn’t have a solid pack feature, which keeps the compactor ram in place for maximum compression. Still, it offers a 4:1 compaction ratio that is on par with most household trash compactors. You can count on using fewer trash bags, although the manufacturer recommends you use heavy-duty bags that are specially designed for use with 15-inch trash compactors.
This model is constructed of heavy duty steel and finished in black, white, or stainless steel. Alternatively, you can order a panel-ready version if you want a more custom look for the front of your trash compactor.
Price at time of publish: $1,199
Dimensions: 35 x 14.875 x 24 inches | Trash Capacity: 1.4 cubic feet | Compacting Force: 2,300 pounds | Finish Material: Black, white, stainless steel, panel-ready
KitchenAid 15-Inch Built-In Trash Compactor
5:1 compaction ratio
Reduces odors with a fan and charcoal filter
Sleek design with hidden control panel
Only available in stainless steel or panel-ready versions
Some noise from odor reduction fan
The KitchenAid KTTS505ESS 15-in. Built-in Trash Compactor is a solid option for most households. For one, this appliance is fully loaded. It boasts an impressive 5:1 compaction ratio, which is like reducing the contents of five trash bags into a single bag! Wow! It’s able to compress your trash by up to 80 percent using KitchenAid’s Solid Pack Control, which keeps the ram used for compaction in a downward position—preventing waste from springing back up. This model is also equipped with sound-dampening technology to keep noticeable noise to a minimum.
The KitchenAid KTTS505ESS trash compactor can hold up to 1.4 cubic feet of trash before it needs to be emptied. Even with compacted trash in the bin, odor reduction features like a fan and charcoal filter keep smells under control. In short, it minimizes the volume of your trash, along with the stench that may be associated with using a conventional trash can. You will, however, hear some operational noise from the fan, but that's a small price to pay for just a few seconds of noise.
This popular model of trash compactor is intended for built-in installation. It fits underneath your countertop with a hidden control panel for a seamless look and a foot pedal for controlling most functions. The addition of a pull handle is largely aesthetic, which may be confusing but is a small quirk to overcome. The KitchenAid KTTS505ESS is only available in a stainless steel finish, which works in many modern kitchens but may not be the best match if you have existing black or white appliances. Alternatively, you can pick the panel-ready version if you want a trash compactor with a custom look to match the appearance of your existing cabinets.
Price at time of publish: $1,665
Dimensions: 34.13 x 15 x 24 inches | Trash Capacity: 1.4 cubic feet | Compacting Force: Not listed | Finish Material: Stainless steel
Whirlpool GC900QPPB Convertible Trash Compactor
Hidden key control knob keeps the drawer locked during use
Sound dampening to minimize operational noise
Available in a handful of finishes
No solid pack function
The Whirlpool Convertible Trash Compactor can be used as a freestanding trash compactor in your kitchen or garage, without the need for permanent installation. This model looks and functions like most undercounter trash compactors, but it has a finished top and the option to use it in any location that is accessible to an outlet.
This Whirlpool mode offers a 4:1 compacting ratio, although it doesn’t have a solid pack function like some advanced trash compactors. Noise from the compacting ram is inevitable, but this freestanding model does include sound-dampening technology to minimize the noise level of the compactor.
Touchpad controls activate the compactor and are easy to use, but a hidden key control knob also safeguards the compactor against accidental operation by a child. Fans of a sleek, built-in appearance might wish for a hidden control panel, but that feature is hard to find on freestanding trash compactors. If you can overlook the visibility of the controls, you’ll find that the touchpad is fast and simple to wipe clean, because it doesn’t have any switches or dials to become soiled and dirty. You can pick between black, white, and stainless steel finishes, so you can match it with the rest of your kitchen appliances.
Price at time of publish: $1,199
Dimensions: 34.19 x 15 x 24.38 inches | Trash Capacity: 1.4 cubic feet | Compacting Force: Not listed | Finish Material: Black, White, Stainless steel
Best for Garages
Gladiator 15-Inch Freestanding Trash Compactor
Locking rubber caster wheels for mobility
Toe-touch bar to open the compactor hands-free
Diamond-plate exterior for durability
Slightly less compacting force than other models
No push-button controls
The Gladiator GACP15XXMG is designed with durability in mind and makes an ideal pick as a trash compactor for garages. While kitchen trash compactors typically prioritize a sleek appearance and quiet operation, this model from Gladiator is right at home in garages, workshops, or other similar settings. It has a diamond-plate wrap to reduce dents and dings, while giving the compactor an industrial-look that is appropriate for a garage or working environment. A toe-touch bar opens the 1.4-cubic-foot compactor bin and makes it easy to dispose of trash or shop supplies, even when your hands are full. The controls to run the compactor are simple and straightforward by using the removable key knob, but there isn’t a control pad with buttons like you’ll find on most household trash compactors.
One advantage of this freestanding trash compactor is its heavy-duty rubber caster wheels. Four swiveling wheels give you the ability to easily move and reposition the compactor as needed; locking mechanisms on the front two wheels keep the unit stationary. Otherwise, this trash compactor functions in much the same way as a kitchen trash compactor. It uses a 1/3 horsepower motor to power a compaction ram that exerts 2,200 pounds of force. While other models of trash compactors have more powerful ratings for compacting force (2,300 to 2,500 pounds is typical), the difference is not significant enough to overlook the Gladiator GACP15XXMG.
Price at time of publish: $1,078
Dimensions: 38 x 15 x 24 inches | Trash Capacity: 1.4 cubic feet | Compacting Force: 2,200 pounds | Finish Material: Diamond-plate
Joseph Joseph Titan Trash Can Compactor
Compactor never touches trash
High-quality build and appearance
Great for small-space living
Standard trash bags won’t attach easily
Larger items might not fit in trash can
This manual model from Joseph Joseph may be known as the Titan for its sturdy design, but its small dimensions make it our choice for the best compact trash compactor. It measures only 12 inches wide and 13.5 inches deep and stands 27 inches tall. It has a 5-gallon capacity, although using the manual compactor means you can pack more waste into the bin. The manual compactor has about a 3:1 compacting ratio according to the manufacturer, but this will depend on the type of materials you fill the bin with, and how much force you exert on the compactor. Keep in mind that large items, like a pizza box, may not fit inside this small trash compactor because of its limited width.
One unique feature of this compact model is the design of its manual compactor paddle—it never comes in contact with your trash. Instead, the compactor paddle pushes down the garbage bag to eliminate air gaps and reduce trash to a smaller size. The benefit of this design is the fact that you never end up with a dirty compactor paddle that needs to be cleaned. One drawback is that the compactor sometimes pulls the bag out from the grips designed to hold it in place, especially if you don’t use the Joseph Joseph brand of trash bags made for the Titan Trash Can Compactor.
The compact dimensions of the Joseph Joseph Titan Trash Can Compactor make it a great pick for apartment dwellers, full-time RVers, or anyone with a small kitchen. Fit it underneath your sink, in a utility closet, or in any other nook of your kitchen or garage. Aside from not taking up too much space, we recommend this as the best small trash compactor for its attractive appearance. It has a stainless steel finish and modern design that won’t make it an eyesore.
Price at time of publish: $127
Dimensions: 27 x 12 x 13.5 inches | Trash Capacity: 0.7 cubic feet | Compacting Force: Not applicable | Finish Material: Stainless steel
Ready Covers Stainless Steel Premium Trash Garbage Wastebasket Bin + Built In Compression System
Sturdy trash can with compacting lid
Stainless steel finish
Uses standard 13-gallon trash bags
No odor management
Most trash compactors are rectangular, but most garbage cans for trash collection are round. If that poses a problem for you or you prefer the aesthetics of a round waste basket, then a round trash compactor may be a better fit. Ready Covers makes a round stainless steel trash can with a built-in manual compression system. It has a 13-gallon capacity and compacts trash using a round disc housed in the lid. The compactor disc is about the same size as the inner liner that holds the trash bag and is equipped with three protruding points to assist in compacting waste as much as possible. The result is that you can condense your trash by about one-third, without touching it with your hands.
This manual, round trash compactor measures 26 inches tall, has a diameter of 12 inches, and is 16 inches from the back of the lid-opening mechanism to the front of the toe-touch pedal. It uses standard, 13-gallon garbage bags. The foot pedal pops the lid of the compactor open so you can deposit trash. You can also opt to keep the lid open, which is helpful during meal prep or other times when you may frequently need to add waste to the compactor. Once the lid closes, the seal helps to keep smells from escaping, although this trash compactor doesn’t have a charcoal filter for additional odor management. It’s not the most full-featured option, but for a freestanding, round trash compactor, this manual pick is simple and easy to use.
Price at time of publish: $115
Dimensions: 26 x 16 x 12 inches | Trash Capacity: 1.4 cubic feet | Compacting Force: Not applicable | Finish Material: Stainless steel
The Jenn-Air TC607X is our top recommendation because of its impressive power to compress trash and reduce waste. This panel-ready trash compactor is designed to be finished with a custom panel that matches your cabinetry and has concealed controls. But if affordability is your top priority, consider a manual trash compactor like the Household Essentials TK10 Trash Krusher. You supply the compaction force, but it requires no installation and can be used in any kitchen, garage, or RV.
What to Look for in a Trash Compactor
The two primary types of trash compactors are motorized or manual. Versions with an installed motor are the most common, but manual trash compactors are the most affordable. A motorized trash compactor usually has a 1/3-horsepower motor and delivers considerably stronger compacting force than what can be achieved by hand using a manual compactor.
Trash compactors are either freestanding or built-in. Freestanding models can be used in any space, but built-in models need to be installed underneath a cabinet and connected to your kitchen's electrical system. When it comes to installation requirements, Steven Ip, a cleaning professional and the owner of Cleanzen, points out that it’s primarily a question of ensuring that you choose the right size trash compactor to fit your space. Most built-in models are 15 inches wide and 34 to 35 inches tall and will require access to an electrical outlet to supply the motor with power. On the other hand, “free-standing trash compactors are more versatile than built-in ones,” according to Ip, because you don’t have the same installation requirements to be concerned with. Manual trash compactors don’t need access to an electrical outlet.
Capacity and Compaction Force
When comparing trash compactors, capacity and compaction force translate into how often you’ll need to empty the waste bin. Ip notes that 40 liters is the most common size for a trash compactor, which translates to 1.4 cubic feet and is sized right for a family of three to five people.
When it comes to compaction force, Ip says, “Having a higher compaction force is great, but these models are usually more expensive, so it ultimately depends on your budget.” Motorized trash compactors usually have a compaction force between 2,200 and 2,500 pounds. There is no similar metric for manual trash compactors because the amount of compaction force will depend on how forcefully you push down on the compactor.
Closely related to compaction force is the compaction ratio, which reflects the volume of trash before and after compacting. Most trash compactors have a compaction ratio of 4:1. High-end models with a solid pack function, which keeps the compacting ram in a downward position for continuous compacting, can achieve a 5:1 compaction ratio. The higher the compaction ratio, the more space you will save in each trash bag.
Care and Maintenance
Like any trash can, you should regularly clean the waste bin, but how often will depend on usage habits and the manufacturer’s care requirements. In addition, the exterior of the trash compactor will need to be regularly wiped clean to remove fingerprints and any traces of dirt or grime. Trash compactors with hidden controls or a smooth touchpad, like the Whirlpool Convertible Trash Compactor, can be easier to clean than versions with knobs or dials that may become sticky or dirty.
Some trash compactors, like the KitchenAid KTTS505ESS, have a charcoal filter that needs to be regularly replaced if you want to reap the full benefit of the compactor’s odor management system. This is one of the few recurring expenses associated with trash compactors, outside of purchasing replacement trash bags. Keep in mind that some manufacturers recommend that you use special trash bags designed for compactor use, while other models (especially manual versions) can typically be used with standard kitchen garbage bags.
How does a trash compactor work?
A household trash compactor works like a smaller version of a garbage truck. It's essentially an appliance with a bin for garbage that is outfitted with a hydraulic metal ram that smashes up your trash into a compact bundle. Hand-operated versions include a button or lever on top that you push down to compress trash, while automatic models turn on and do their business at the flip of a switch.
What are the different types of trash compactors?
Trash compactors are freestanding, built-in, or convertible. Freestanding models are similar to a trash can and can be positioned just about anywhere. Convertible models offer the flexibility to be installed underneath a counter or can be used as freestanding models. Built-in trash compactors are only intended to be installed underneath a cabinet and typically don’t have a finished top.
How big should a trash compactor be?
A trash compactor with a 1.4-cubic foot bin is the most common size. This is usually enough volume to hold 40 liters of waste. How frequently you’ll need to empty a trash compactor of this size will depend on your household size and habits, but Ip says that this size usually translates into only needing to empty the trash about once per week. Small households or those that also recycle may find that they need to change the garbage bag even less often than that.
How long does a trash compactor last?
The lifespan of a trash compactor can vary, based on usage, maintenance, and build quality. Because these appliances aren’t a mainstay found in every home, it can be hard to generalize how long a trash compactor lasts when compared to other major household appliances. But for the best chance of a long life of service, Ip advises you “choose from a well-established brand with a good warranty program.”
Why Trust The Spruce
This article was written by Erica Puisis, a freelance writer for The Spruce with extensive experience researching large and small appliances. For this article, she considered trash compactors of all types, including motorized and manual models. To find the best trash compactors, she evaluated popular picks from brands like GE, Whirlpool, Jenn-Air, and Joseph Joseph.
Compactors were compared based on type, capacity, compaction force, and other user-friendly features like odor reduction or hidden controls. To get more information on the selection and use of a trash compactor, she also spoke with Steven Ip, a cleaning professional and owner of Cleanzen in Boston, Massachusetts. Ip shared his experience with trash compactors and provided recommendations on what size and style may work in various homes.