Rubbermaid garbage cans

Rubbermaid garbage cans DEFAULT

Let’s talk trash. Taking it out is never fun, but a good receptacle can make the task less of a slog. We’ve tested more than 20 kitchen trash cans since 2014, and we think the Simplehuman Rectangular Step Can is the best for most home kitchens. It makes tossing garbage easy, replacing bags painless, and cleaning a cinch.

The 10-gallon Simplehuman Rectangular Step Can makes fitting, hiding, and removing a standard trash bag easier than with most other cans we’ve tested. (Don’t be deterred by the custom-fit bags Simplehuman sells for its trash cans. Most models fit generic trash bags just fine.) The lid opens smoothly, without smacking the wall behind it, and it can be locked open so you can toss scraps in while you cook. If a garbage bag breaks and leaks, the plastic insert on this can will catch the mess and make it far easier to clean up. The Rectangular Step Can is expensive, but it’s backed by a 10-year warranty, which is rare among garbage cans. We’ve been using an older version of this can in the Wirecutter test kitchen since 2014, and it’s still going strong despite plenty of abuse.

We recommend the 30-liter Simplehuman Under-Counter Pull-Out Can if you don’t have room for a larger, free-standing trash can, or if you prefer your trash bin to be tucked out of the way. This 30-liter can sits in a sturdy metal frame that doesn’t wobble, and it glides smoothly on its track. The track comes pre-assembled, and it takes only eight screws to mount it to the base of your cupboard. Plus, the whole thing comes with a generous five-year warranty. The main downside is that since this bin doesn’t have a lid, you’ll need to take your trash out more frequently to prevent it from smelling or attracting fruit flies.

The compact, 10-liter Simplehuman In-Cabinet Can is an even smaller can than the pull-out, for those who don’t generate a lot of trash and who need something tucked out of the way. It hooks snugly over a cupboard door and fits 2.6-gallon trash bags or regular plastic grocery bags. Unlike the Simplehuman Under-Counter Pull-Out Can, the In-Cabinet Can has a lid to contain odors. Since it’s so tiny, it’s best suited to small households or those who take their garbage out frequently. Like the pull-out bin we recommend, this can comes with a five-year warranty.

The 13-gallon Rubbermaid Step-On Trash Can is the best trash can we’ve tested for under $30. Two plastic arms on the rim of the can hold bags securely in place and out of sight, and the lid sealed in stinky trash better than those on any other model we tested. Though the Rubbermaid isn’t as stylish as some of our other picks, the black plastic exterior at least hides stains well. This can lacks some of the features we like in our other picks—such as a removable liner, a weighted base, and a lid that won’t hit the wall when opened—but for a basic, no-frills can, it gets the job done.

Why you should trust me

To find out what makes a great trash can, I turned to multiple experts for guidance. And to learn about the best practices and materials for deterring critters from getting into trash, I spoke to Matt Frye, PhD, an extension educator for Cornell University and New York State Integrated Pest Management. For information about trash cans for people with disabilities, I consulted Richard Hunt, an expert in the law of accessible design and the author of the blog Accessibility Defense.

Additionally, I went to stores such as Bed Bath & Beyond, The Container Store, and Home Depot to look at trash cans in person.

As a senior staff writer for Wirecutter, I have reviewed all kinds of kitchen gadgets and equipment. I’ve researched hundreds of trash cans (from the super-stylish to the horrifically hideous and everything in between) and tested a dozen models for our 2020 update. My research builds on the work of former Wirecutter senior staff writer Kevin Purdy, who wrote the first version of this guide in 2014.

Types of kitchen trash cans

different types of kitchen trash cans that we tested side by side.

One of the most important things to consider when choosing a kitchen trash can is how you access it. With the exception of some in-cabinet models, most cans have lids. But you’ll find a wide range of lid styles with various opening mechanisms, the worst of which will quickly drive you crazy when you’re scrambling to cook dinner. If you’re having trouble deciding which one to get, here’s a rundown of the five basic styles and who they’re best for:

  • Step cans, which you open by pressing a foot pedal, are best for most households because they generally have well-sealed lids to contain odors, and they are easy to open hands-free (which is more sanitary). A foot pedal is a lifesaver when your fingers are dripping with raw chicken juice or you’re grasping a heavy wood cutting board that’s towering with potato peels.
  • In-cabinet trash cans, which most often go in the cupboard under your sink, are a great option for small kitchens with limited space. You can of course use any trash can that fits under the sink, but dedicated in-cabinet cans are designed for easy access. Some sit on a metal track mounted to the base of a cupboard, so they’re easy to pull out. Others can be mounted on a cupboard door.
  • Touch-top trash cans, which you open by pressing a button on or near the lid, are a good alternative to step cans for people who can’t operate the foot pedal on a step can. But since you have to use your hands, they’re less sanitary. The touch-top can we used to suggest as an honorable mention in our competition section has been discontinued. We're currently researching new options for folks who may not be able to use a step-can or regularly lidded can.
  • Automatic trash cans, which open automatically using an infrared sensor or voice activation, have a high failure rate, and they didn’t open reliably in our previous tests, so we don’t recommend them. We’ve also seen reviews and gathered feedback from family and friends who own them that the batteries need to be replaced often. For all these reasons, we don’t recommend them. If you’re unable to operate a step can, we recommend you get a touch-top bin or an in-cabinet can.
  • Trash cans with swing-top, butterfly, or fold-in lids don’t seal as tightly as other styles, so we don’t recommend them. They won’t keep odorous garbage contained or discourage inquisitive pets or pests from getting inside. The lids also tend to get splattered with food as you scrape dishes into the trash. Swing-top and fold-in lids frequently get caught on trash as the receptacle fills up, which prevents them from opening properly.

How we picked

Two trash cans we tested side by side.

After researching more than 200 trash cans since 2014, speaking with numerous experts, and years of our own testing, we’ve found that there are a number of factors that make some cans easier to use and clean than others. Here are the most important features we looked for when selecting which trash cans to test:

Durable materials: According to our experts, stainless steel bins with tight-fitting lids are best for keeping inquisitive pets and pesky insects or rodents at bay. As Matt Frye told us, “[rodents] can chew through any type of plastic. If it’s aluminum, they can chew through it. It has to be something sturdy.” He also told us to look for bins with “no [sharp] edges, because even with stainless steel, if there’s an edge, [rodents] have very strong mouths and can just bend it.” All of the trash cans we tested have rounded edges. We prioritized stainless steel bins when deciding what to test, but we included some plastic bins in the budget category. If you’re not dealing with a rodent problem, using a plastic bin is probably fine.

Fits standard bags: We primarily tested full-size trash cans, limiting our search to those that could fit standard US trash bag sizes—10 gallons (38 liters) and/or 13 gallons (49 liters). The only exception is the small Simplehuman In-Cabinet Can we recommend, which fits regular plastic grocery bags and may be preferable for people with tiny kitchens. Some manufacturers are notorious for selling custom-fit bags with their trash cans (are your ears burning, Simplehuman?). Although we think that’s silly, all of the Simplehuman models we looked at also fit generic bags, so we didn’t rule any out.

Easy to clean: Even securely held bags can break, tear, or leak inside a trash can, so we searched for bins that wouldn’t be too punishing to clean inside. Some trash cans had a maze of channels and indentations on the bottom of the bin that were a nightmare to clean, and we ruled those out quickly. We prefer cans with removable inner bins because they’re far easier to clean if your garbage leaks.

We also prioritized bins with stainless steel or dark plastic exteriors, because they’re easier to clean and better at hiding stains. The one thing that steel can’t hide is fingerprints. Some manufacturers advertise “fingerprint-proof” finishes, but in our tests those didn’t make much difference. We think this is only a minor issue, but if you’re bothered by fingerprints, see the care and maintenance section for ways to prevent them.

Rectangular: We limited our search to rectangular trash cans because their shape fits a wider range of spaces, and it’s easier to scrape food into their large mouths. Round trash cans don’t use space as efficiently and have narrower openings, making it more difficult to scrape scraps into them from a cutting board without some ending up on the floor.

Tight-sealing: We looked for trash cans with tight-sealing lids and minimal gaps, to keep odors in and fruit flies out. That said, we had a hard time finding trash cans without some sort of hole in them. Some bins have cutouts for handles, and others have openings on the bottom of the can. In most cases, the holes were blocked when placed against a wall, but we did our best to find trash cans with minimal gaps or holes on the outer can. We also included a couple of lidless in-cabinet models in our tests in 2020, because we wanted to have an option for those who store their trash under the sink by necessity, due to space limitations.

Sturdy but easy to move: For step cans in particular, we wanted to find models that would be heavy enough to remain in place while you open them but still light enough for you to move around your kitchen.

Not an eyesore: A trash can doesn’t have to look like a luxury appliance to earn our respect, but it also shouldn’t be glaringly unattractive if it’s going to be on full display in your kitchen. We avoided cans that were overly stylized or just plain ugly.

How we tested

For our 2020 update, we tested nine new trash cans against two of our existing picks. We started by looking at how easy they were to use: For models that had a foot pedal, we tried pressing the pedal with a variety of forces and from different angles. If the trash can had a lid, we watched to see whether it had a controlled opening and closing mechanism or if it hit the wall behind it. We also made sure each lid could remain propped open for long prep tasks, and we scraped carrot peels into each can from a large wood cutting board to see whether the mouth was sufficiently wide.

Close up of a person sliding carrot peels off a butting board into a trash can.

We fit each of the full-size cans we tested with a 10- or 13-gallon trash bag (depending on the size of the can) to see how securely the bags fit. Then we dumped another bag filled with 40 pounds of cat litter and 5 quarts of water into each trash can to see whether the weight caused the liner bag to slip down inside. We then pulled everything out of the can to see whether the liner bag got caught or was difficult to remove. We wiped down the trash cans, inside and out, with spray cleaner and paper towels to see how easy they were to clean. To test how well the lids remained closed, we knocked the trash cans over (nearly all of the lids flew open).

Close up of cut veggies, eggs, cheese and meat in a bowl.

Finally, after eliminating several trash cans that failed our first tests, we tried to create the stinkiest trash scenario possible by combining onions, garlic, hard-boiled eggs, canned tuna, Danish blue cheese, Camembert, and kimchi in each of our step-can and touch-top finalists. We put the lids on the cans and let each one sit in a separate enclosed room over a weekend to see how well they contained the trash smells. Surprisingly, I didn’t make any enemies in the office when Monday rolled around.

Note: We tested the small in-cabinet can we recommend separately for our guide to small kitchens, and our testing procedure was a little different. We installed it in a cabinet in a small apartment, and used it daily over the course of a month to see how easy it was to change bags and clean, and to see how well the lid sealed in odors.

Our pick: Simplehuman Rectangular Step Can

Our pick for the best kitchen trash can the simplehuman rectangular step can.

We started recommending the Simplehuman Rectangular Step Can in 2014, and though it’s evolved slightly over the years, it continues to outperform the competition due to several ingenious features. A removable inner bin keeps trash bags hidden in the can and makes it easy to clean up garbage leaks. The lid opens and shuts smoothly and silently, tightly sealing in odors. We also love the ridge inside the can that allows you to prop up the inner bin while changing a bag, and the small switch that allows you to lock the lid open for longer clean-up jobs. The cherry on top: This can also comes with an impressive 10-year warranty.

If a trash bag breaks or leaks, the interior bucket comes to the rescue. It’s a simple plastic liner that nests inside the main metal container to catch any gross trash juices that would otherwise leak into the grooves on the bottom of the can. And because the inner bucket is lightweight, it’s much easier to take it to the backyard or tub to hose down if you need to. The interior bucket is also handy for those times when your trash is so heavy that carrying the bag solo is too dicey. You can pull the entire bucket out and carry it to your trash drop without the risk of the bag breaking or leaking.

close up of Simplehuman Step Can's inner bucket.

You can prop the inner bucket up on a ridge inside the can to make it easier to change the bag. Photo: Sarah Kobos

Close up of the inside of the simplehuman rectangular step can filled with a Simplehuman’s custom trash bag.

The Simplehuman Rectangular Step Can is shown fitted with Simplehuman’s custom bag. Photo: Sarah Kobos

The inside of the Simplehuman Rectangular Step Can with a generic garbage bag.

The Simplehuman Rectangular Step Can is shown fitted with a generic drawstring bag. Photo: Sarah Kobos

A clever design feature also makes fitting bags easy: You can prop the bucket up on a ridge inside the can so that it’s easy to secure a bag around its rim. Any excess bag can also be tucked into a hole on the back of the bucket before you lower it back down. The bags we put in this can fit tightly and securely, even after we weighed them down with 40 pounds of cat litter and five quarts of water. And though Simplehuman sells expensive custom-fit bags for this trash can, most 10- or 13-gallon drawstring bags fit perfectly. The bucket will also fit four-corner or twist-tie bags, but the fit won’t be quite as tight.

The opening and closing mechanism on the Rectangular Step Can is smooth and controlled, and the lid won’t hit the wall, even when the trash can is placed directly against it, unlike the AmazonBasics Soft-Close Trash Can we tested. The internal air-pressure damper is quiet and prevents the lid from slamming closed. There are also no gaps between the lid and the inner bucket, which helps control smells and deter fruit flies.

The Rectangular Step Can is nicely weighted and won’t slide around when you press the foot pedal. Only the tallest, most persistent dogs would be able to knock it over (although note that the lid cannot be locked shut). But when you do need to move the bin around your kitchen, a handle cutout in the back of the can makes it easier to pick up.

Close up of a small switch on the Rectangular Step Can that can be set to keep the lid open.

The wide mouth on the Rectangular Step Can allows you to easily empty a large bowl or cutting board loaded with scraps into the bucket. If you need to keep the lid open for larger clean-up jobs, a handy little red switch in the rear right corner allows you to lock the lid firmly in its upright position. Other cans sometimes allow you to raise the lid past its opening point to temporarily stay up, only to come right back down with the slightest bump.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

Close up of a person holding the handle located on the back of the rectangular step can.

The handle cut-out in the top rear of the Rectangular Step Can makes this model easier to move, but it has the potential to let out the trash smell. However, we found that the scent stayed well contained in our stinky trash test when the can was placed against a wall. The inner bucket also covers the handle opening, so unless you put your nose up to it, you’re unlikely to detect any scent.

Long-term test notes

We’ve been using an older version of the Rectangular Step Can in the Wirecutter test kitchens in our New York City and LA offices since 2014. Despite the fact that both cans get used far more than a typical household trash can would, their pedal action is as smooth and even as the day we got them, and neither has any major dents.

The best pull-out trash can: Simplehuman Under-Counter Pull-Out Can

Close up of a Simplehuman Under-Counter Pull-Out Can in a kitchen cabinet.

If you’re looking for a trash can to keep under the sink, we recommend getting the 30-liter Simplehuman Under-Counter Pull-Out Can. It’s a great option if you’re tight on floorspace or you prefer keeping your garbage bin out of sight, and it’s the best pull-out model we tested thanks to its durable metal frame and sturdy, smooth-gliding track. Unlike some other pull-out cans, this one’s frame and track come preassembled and are very easy to install. Just keep in mind that this can doesn’t have a lid, so you’ll need to take the trash out more frequently to avoid smells or fruit flies.

Close up of the Under-Cabinet Pull-Out set up in a cabinet.

The Under-Counter Pull-Out Can requires only eight screws to mount the track to the base of your cupboard. Photo: Sarah Kobos

close up of the Under-Cabinet Pull-Out Can’s frame.

The Under-Counter Pull-Out Can’s frame requires no assembly. Photo: Sarah Kobos

Close up of the Under-Cabinet Pull-Out Can.

The Under-Counter Pull-Out Can has a sturdy track that holds the weight of the can when it’s filled to the brim. Photo: Sarah Kobos

Unlike the Rev-A-Shelf trash can we tested, the Under-Counter Pull-Out Can requires no assembly and takes only eight screws to mount the track to the bottom of your cabinet. Just be sure to measure the dimensions of your cabinets first to ensure that the roughly 18- by 10-inch track will fit, and note that if you have a face frame on your cabinets, you’ll first have to mount the track to a piece of wood that’s the same height as the frame in order for the trash can to slide over it.

The Under-Counter Pull-Out Can is more expensive than the Rev-A-Shelf can we tested, but you get what you pay for. The Under-Counter Pull-Out’s track is very stable and can hold the weight of the trash can filled to capacity. The well-constructed frame doesn’t wobble, like the thin metal frame on the Rev-A-Shelf does. We also like the Under-Counter Pull-Out Can’s wider handle, which is easier to grab. The 8-gallon plastic bin is easy to remove from the frame for cleaning, and fits generic 10- or 13-gallon drawstring bags perfectly, so there’s no reason to spend more on Simplehuman’s pricier bags.

close up of a person holding the wide handle on the Simplehuman Under-Cabinet Pull-Out Can.

The best small trash can: Simplehuman In-Cabinet Can

Our pick for the best small trash can the Simplehuman In-Cabinet Can set up in a kitchen cabinet.

If your kitchen is too tiny for a full-size trash can, or you don’t generate much trash, we recommend getting the small, 10-liter Simplehuman In-Cabinet Can. Its hook attaches snugly to a cupboard door, and the bin fits 2.6-gallon trash bags or regular plastic grocery bags. The size means you’ll have to take the trash out more frequently, but it’s less likely to smell (the lid also helps contain odors).

The In-Cabinet Can has a sturdy metal frame that attaches to a cabinet door with a foam-lined hook, so it requires no installation or assembly. If you want, you can also mount it to the door with a single screw to keep it stable when opening and closing the cupboard, but it’s not necessary. The hook is ⅞ inches wide, so you should measure the thickness of your cabinet doors first to be sure it will fit. And keep in mind that if you have narrow cabinets, you may have to slide the frame closer to the door hinges for it to clear the opening.

The Simplehuman In-Cabinet Can's frame set up on a kitchen cabinet door.

You can easily remove the In-Cabinet Can’s plastic bin from its frame for cleaning. Photo: Sarah Kobos

Close up of the Metal hook of the In-Cabinet Can's frame mounted on a cabinet door.

The foam-lined metal hook on the In-Cabinet Can discreetly hangs on the edge of a cupboard door. Photo: Sarah Kobos

Our best small trashcan pick, attached to a lower cabinet door.

If you have narrow cabinets, you may have to slide the trash can closer to the door hinges for it to fit. Photo: Michael Sullivan

We also like that, unlike many other in-cabinet bins, this can has a flip-top lid for containing trash odors and deterring fruit flies. You have to open the lid manually since it lacks a foot pedal or push-button opening mechanism, but it props open for longer cleaning and prep tasks. At 11 inches wide, the can’s opening is narrower than those of our other picks, so it can be a little more challenging to scrape trimmings into the mouth of the bin from a wide cutting board.

Plastic grocery bag on the Simplehuman In-Cabinet Can.

This bin fits 2.6-gallon trash bags (or Simplehuman’s custom Code R bags) and regular plastic grocery bags. Like the pull-out bin we recommend, the In-Cabinet Can comes with a five-year warranty.

Budget pick: Rubbermaid Step-On Trash Can

Our pick for the best cheap trash can the Rubbermaid Step-On Trash Can.

If you’re looking to spend under $30 for a trash can, we recommend the Rubbermaid Step-On Trash Can, which stands out in an endless field of otherwise flimsy trash cans typically found in this price range. Impressively, it contained smells better than any other trash can we tested. The plastic arms around the inner rim of the can keep bags from sliding down into the bin and also hide any excess bag from showing. We also like that the lid can stay propped open for long prep tasks. The black plastic body won’t show stains as readily as white plastic cans, and it doesn’t move around too much when you operate the foot pedal.

Close up of the rim of the can with the trash bag inside is empty.

The hinged arms on either side of the Rubbermaid’s rim help keep bags hidden and were effective at preventing the bag from slipping in our weighted bag test. To fit a bag on the can, you lift the arms, tuck the bag around them, then lower them onto the rim of the can. The lid sometimes fell while we were trying to get the bag on, which made the process a little trickier, but after a few attempts we got the hang of it. We also noticed that when the bag was empty, the collar didn’t lie completely flat on the rim of the can, but once it began to fill up, the weight of the trash lowered the arms and secured them in place. The arms work best with drawstring bags, but other bag styles will work, albeit with a bit more fuss.

The mouth on the Rubbermaid is 17 inches wide, so you won’t have any trouble scraping trimmings off a cutting board. The lid can stay propped open for long prep or cleaning tasks, but it doesn’t lock open like the lid on our main pick, the Simplehuman Step Can. If you bump the bin slightly, the lid will most likely shut. The lid also doesn’t open as elegantly as the one on the Simplehuman can, and will hit the wall behind it if it’s placed too close. But we like that the Rubbermaid’s lid completely covers the bin, unlike other less expensive trash cans we tested. In fact, the Rubbermaid’s lid sealed in stinky trash smells better than any can we tested.

Close up of the Rubbermaid’s foot pedal.

The Rubbermaid doesn’t move much when you press the foot pedal, especially for a lightweight plastic can. However, it’s not weighted like our other picks, so there’s still a chance a toddler or medium dog could tip it over when it’s nearly empty. We like that the black plastic hides stains well, but it will still show dust and need to be wiped down occasionally.

Unlike the Simplehuman cans we recommend, which are covered by generous, five- or 10-year warranties, the Rubbermaid is covered by only a one-year warranty (PDF). But that’s to be expected with a can in this price range.

What about recycling containers?

If you have space in your kitchen, side-by-side or otherwise adjoined recycling bins are convenient for separating recyclables before bringing them to a refuse room or to the curb. Although any of our picks could be easily converted to recycling duty, we intend to research dedicated recycling bins for a separate guide in the future. In the meantime, we’d recommend the Simplehuman Dual Compartment In-Cabinet Can, which is similar to the pull-out model we currently recommend, except it has an additional bin for recycling.

“ADA-compliant” trash cans

If you’re unable to use a step can, you may have searched for “ADA-compliant” trash cans (the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability). Many trash can manufacturers will advertise their touch-top cans as ADA-compliant in the product specs. However, according to Richard Hunt, an expert in the law of accessible design, “In general, the ADA construction standards only apply to what it calls architectural elements, which are just things that are built in. So ordinarily, a stand alone trash can isn’t covered by the ADA, at least not by the design standards.” That means that trash cans advertised as “ADA-compliant” have not been certified by an official agency. We’re conscious that some may be unable to use a step can, and hope to research and test touch-top or other non-step options for our next update. For now, if accessing a trash can inside your cabinets isn’t a problem, you might try this pull-out bin without a lid.

Care and maintenance

The best thing you can do to prevent your trash from stinking up your kitchen and attracting pests is to take it out often, especially after putting food scraps in it. Matt Frye also suggested rinsing wrappers and containers that held food, because this will help reduce the potential for odors to develop.

If a bag breaks, or something slips into the can outside the bag, you need to rinse it out: in your kitchen sink, with a garden hose, or in a bathtub, depending on what your living space allows. Spray it down with a vinegar-, bleach-, or enzyme-based cleaner, such as Simple Solution. Scrub it out with a brush and let it dry completely before lining it with a new bag.

Mold can develop on the inner lid of any trash can if you consistently toss warm, damp items like coffee grounds into it. The mold wipes off easily, but you can help prevent condensation and mold from developing by letting warm food scraps cool before discarding them in your trash can.

We’ve read some comments online complaining about fingerprints on stainless steel trash cans, even ones with a “fingerprint-proof” finish. We think they’re a minor issue, but if fingerprints bother you, here’s how to avoid them (aside from wiping the can down regularly): Apply a very light layer of baby oil, mineral oil, or a neutral cooking oil across the surface of the can, then polish it using a chamois or microfiber cloth. The coating will eventually wear off, but you simply have to clean and re-oil.

What to look forward to

We’d like to recommend an option for those who can’t (or prefer not to) use step cans, and who also don’t want an in-cabinet can. Simplehuman’s entire Touch Top line, one of which we used to mention in the competition as a good alternative, has been discontinued. We hope to research and test more standalone non-step cans once we have access to our office and test kitchen again. In the meantime, if you have suggestions or specific requests about trash cans in this category, please leave a comment below.

The competition

Honorable mentions

The 12-gallon Simplehuman Rectangular Brushed Stainless Steel Step Can was one of the best-looking trash cans we’ve tested. We also appreciated its extra-long foot pedal, which made it easy to open the lid from multiple angles. Its back pocket is designed to store extra bags, which can be pulled through the inner can (like tissues from a box) when it comes time to fit a new bag. However, if you don’t plan to use Simplehuman’s expensive custom-fit bags (Code M bags), you’ll be left with a hole in the back of the can, which could attract fruit flies and allow odors to escape.

The Simplehuman Rectangular Brushed Stainless Steel Step Can next to a kitchen island cart.

The Simplehuman Rectangular Brushed Stainless Steel Step Can was one of the most stylish cans we tested. Photo: Sarah Kobos

Pocket for storing Simplehuman’s custom bags on the Rectangular Brushed Stainless Steel Step Can.

If you don’t store Simplehuman’s custom bags in the back pocket, you’ll be left with an actual hole in the can. Photo: Sarah Kobos

Step cans

We used to recommend the Simplehuman Slim Step Can for tiny kitchens, but after years of long-term testing, we found its narrow shape wasn’t as well suited to small spaces as we had originally thought. It has a surprisingly bulky shape for such a narrow can. Also, its slender opening made it awkward to slide vegetable trimmings off of a cutting board and into the bin when it was positioned in the tight space between a cabinet and a fridge.

We like the locking lid on the Simplehuman plastic Semi-Round Step Can, which is great for keeping pets from getting into your trash, even if they manage to knock the bin over. However, the base isn’t weighted enough to prevent the can from sliding around when it’s empty. We still think this is a great can if you want to spend less than you would on our main pick, or if you need a locking lid to keep pets out. But keep in mind that this model’s semi-round shape takes up more space.

Simplehuman’s plastic Rectangular Step Can with Liner Pocket has a smooth step and a design that hides trash bags. However, it lacks a locking lid, a stay-open switch, and a removable liner. Its lightweight base would also be easily knocked over by kids or midsize dogs.

The iTouchless SoftStep 50 Liter Stainless Steel Step Trash Can is one of the few manually operated bins sold by iTouchless, makers of an array of automatic trash cans. The lid on this can will hit the wall behind it, and it makes a weird noise that almost sounds like a rainstick when it closes. The lid also gets in the way when you remove the inner bucket, which makes fitting bags more difficult.

We liked the compartment for holding extra bags on the GLAD GLD-74506 Stainless Steel Step Trash Can, but this can’s thin metal arms weren’t very effective at holding garbage bags in place. This trash can also doesn’t have a plastic insert, so if your garbage leaks, it will seep into the deep, hard-to-clean grooves on the bottom of the bin.

The lid on the AmazonBasics Rectangle Soft-Close Trash Can hits the wall behind it when opened. Even if you pull the trash can a few inches from the wall, it will slowly scoot back each time you press the foot pedal. Plus, the plastic insert gets caught on the lip of the lid when you pull it out to fit a new bag.

The soft-close lid mechanism on our Kohler 13-Gallon Step Can broke after only a few uses, causing the lid to slam shut with a loud bang. Also, when you open this model using the foot pedal, the whole collar around the rim of the can pops up slightly.

We like that the Umbra Brim Trash Can comes in three colors and aims for a more upscale look than most budget trash cans. We dismissed it because its pedal was harder to clean than those on some of the other trash cans we tested, and its tapered design made it far too easy to knock over.

Touch-top trash cans

The Hefty Touch Lid 13.3 Gallon Trash Can was our former budget pick. However, after long-term testing, we found that the torsion springs that open the lid weakened over time and that the ⅛-inch gap around the perimeter of the lid let out trash odors.

The GIGANTISK trash can came in six pieces and required assembly, which is very on-brand for IKEA. Its square shape is clunky and sticks out farther than a typical rectangular trash can when placed against a wall or cupboard. At 16 gallons, it’s also a bit too large to fit a standard, 13-gallon trash bag.

Automatic trash cans

In 2015 we tested two sensor-based (“touchless”) trash cans that open automatically: the iTouchless 13-gallon Deodorizer Sensor Trash Can and the Ninestars 13-gallon Automatic Trash Can. Each of the sensor cans had significant problems. First of all, the sensors were inconsistent and often required using a second hand to get the lids to open. The mechanized “heads” are also heavy and cumbersome to remove when it’s time to take out a bag. If your trash can isn’t stored near an outlet, you can’t use the A/C adapter, which means you have to use three or four C or D batteries, depending on the model. According to the customer reviews we’ve read, battery life seems to vary between six months and three years. If you can’t use a step can, we’d recommend getting a touch-top trash can instead.

Pull-out trash cans

Other lid styles

After testing the Simplehuman Butterfly Step Can in 2014, we learned that it can be very awkward to scrape things into bins with this design. In our later updates, we opted not to test trash cans with butterfly lids.

Like the cans with butterfly lids we tested, the 16½-gallon Umbra Venti Trash Can was too difficult to scrape food into without getting it all over the lid. The swinging lid also does nothing to lock in smelly trash or prevent fruit flies.

The IKEA FILUR’s square edges made it too difficult to stretch bags over the rim, so we dismissed this trash can.


  1. Sarah Zorn, The Best Kitchen Trash Cans of 2020, Reviewed, January 22, 2020

  2. Sienna Livermore, 5 Best Kitchen Trash Cans You Never Knew You Needed, Good Housekeeping

  3. Lindsey M. Roberts, The best trash cans, according to experts, Chicago Tribune, July 5, 2017

  4. Amanda Mull, The best $104 I ever spent: a rose gold trash can, Vox, January 15, 2019

  5. Matthew J.X. Malady, The Problem With Relying on a Machine to Eat All Your Garbage, The Awl, September 8, 2014

  6. Elizabeth Passarella, Cheap Trick: Clean Stainless Steel with a $2 Product, The Kitchn, December 6, 2011

About your guide

Michael Sullivan

Michael Sullivan has been a staff writer on the kitchen team at Wirecutter since 2016. Previously, he was an editor at the International Culinary Center in New York. He has worked in various facets of the food and restaurant industry for over a decade.


The Best Outdoor Trash Cans of 2021

Toter Blackstone is the best overall trash can

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Rubbermaid Brute is the best basic trash can

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

How We Tested

We tried to get a diverse group of trash cans to test

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

The Tester

Hi, I'm Jon Chan, the Senior Lab Technician at Reviewed. Along with my colleague Kyle Hamilton, we tested all the garbage cans in this roundup. Over the years I’ve worked here, I’ve tested everything from pocket knives to pressure washers. When it came to trash barrels, I wanted something that could withstand suburban, urban, and rural situations.

The Tests

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

The testing broke down in the three sections: durability, security, and ease of use.

Durability testing involved a lot of dragging over rough asphalt, tossing them off a three-foot-high loading dock, swinging a ten-pound plate at them, and generally just beating on them. We then assessed each model to check for signs of abnormal wear, any points of failure like cracks or broken wheels, and lids that no longer fit. For several of the models we tested, we even tossed them off 17-foot-tall fire escape for a distance of 18.5 feet.

We used a mixture of wet sand, cardboard, paper, and metal weights to simulate garbage.

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Security testing included checking how well each model resisted tipping over, how animal resistant they were, and how well they held in odors. The tipping test involved swinging a weight at both the top and bottom of the trash can and also a few good elbow strikes. The animal resistance test involved binding my hands in duct tape and then attempting to open the trash cans by any means, including knocking them over and belly flopping on them. Finally, we did a sniff test. We placed smashed 20 beads from inside an air freshener inside selected cans then placed them in an isolated area. We then asked volunteers to give the area a whiff.

Third, on our list was the ease-of-use testing. We created our own trash loads consisting of wet sand placed in ziplock bags, crumpled up printer paper, ripped up cardboard, and bolts of cloth into three kitchen trash bags. We also placed metal weights on the bottom of each trash barrel. In total the entire load tipped the scales at 70 pounds. We noted how easy it was to place the bags in. The next test was to gauge how the amount of effort it took to lift each model, this is important if you have to empty your trash into a dumpster.

What You Should Know About Outdoor Garbage Cans

Animal Resistance

As silly as it looked, we tried to test how animal resistant each trash can was by wrapping our hands up.

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Your refuse can attract everything from mice to bears. For our testing, we considered no animals larger than a raccoon. Bear-proofing your garbage requires either a specialized and expensive trash can, a shed, or the use of spotlights. There are also straps you can get that can help secure your lids but they're not that great. The most important part about keeping critters out of your garbage is to secure the lid and keep smelly refuse in air-tight bags.

Do I Need to Buy a Garbage Can?

Some municipalities have guidelines for what garbage cans are allowed and in some circumstances provide them. Your landlord or real estate agent should have the details about the local rules.

Wheeled vs No Wheels

When the average family of four produces around 80 pounds of refuse a week why wouldn't you want a trash barrel with wheels? Simplicity is a good answer. If a wheel or axle on a wheeled trash can breaks, it's kaput, they typically don't have the handles or smooth bottoms to carry or drag them anywhere. A garbage can with no wheels also tends to be cheaper. So it's a good idea if you're getting one for storage.

Other Garbage Cans We Tested

More Articles You Might Enjoy

Meet the tester

Jonathan Chan

Jonathan Chan

Senior Manager of Lab Operations


Jonathan Chan currently serves as the Lab Manager at Reviewed. If you clean with it, it's likely that Jon oversees its testing. Since joining the Reviewed in 2012, Jon has helped launch the company's efforts in reviewing laptops, vacuums, and outdoor gear. He thinks he's a pretty big deal. In the pursuit of data, he's plunged his hands into freezing cold water, consented to be literally dragged through the mud, and watched paint dry. Jon demands you have a nice day.

See all of Jonathan Chan's reviews

Checking our work.

Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.

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Americana Series™ Open Top 36 Gal Black


The Americana Series™ decorative outdoor waste containers maintain an upscale appearance while providing exceptional waste control. Rugged steel construction with multiple layers of powder coating ensure years of trouble-free outdoor use. This garbage can is perfect for your hotel, resort, atrium, pool, or convention center. Round and sleek, this trash bin features vertical one-inch wide welded steel slats surrounding its steel body. Its open top disposal opening enables hands-free disposal, maximizing customer comfort and sanitation. Made from 30% post-consumer recycled content, this fire-safe garbage can features a rugged steel construction complete with a leak-proof rigid plastic liner. Providing lasting strength and durability through changing weather conditions, this trash bin includes a UV-stabilizer. Leg levelers provide additional stability on even and uneven surfaces. Prevent the passerby from rummaging around your garbage cans with the vandal-resistant, cable-secured funnel. The funnel top may be lifted off for easy emptying and servicing.

Features and Benefits:

  • Adjustable leg levelers for stability on uneven surfaces.
  • Extremely heavy to deter theft and withstand weather conditions.



Product Length29.00 in73.66 cm
Product Width29.00 in73.66 cm
Product Height32.50 in82.55 cm
Case Pack Length29.75 in75.57 cm
Case Pack Width30.00 in76.20 cm
Case Pack Height33.75 in85.73 cm
Case Pack Quantity1
Packaging Length29.00 in73.66 cm
Packaging Width29.00 in73.66 cm
Packaging Height32.50 in82.55 cm
Capacity36.00 gal
Material TypeMetal
Country of OriginChina


Certifications & Regulatory Information

<p>The ADA prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, State and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation.</p> <p>Rubbermaid Commercial Products refuse containers need to comply with the ADA regulations; as long as "access openings" for containers are below 48", containers are compliant to ADA regulations.</p> <p>Link: <a href=""></a></p>

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Cans rubbermaid garbage

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Rubbermaid 265500 Brute 55 Gallon Trash Can RCP265500GY

Then I think we got it. " Cindy kept thinking about it all weekend. When Monday came, she became completely impatient and couldn't wait for the day to pass.

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