The 10 Best Trash Cans

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This wiki has been updated 33 times since it was first published in May of 2015. It's time to talk some trash — literally. Though garbage is an inevitability in all homes, there's no need for its receptacle to be an eyesore. These cans are both stylish and functional, and they come in at various prices that will fit into any budget. We've included a variety of styles, from simple, lid-free models to those that open with the press of a pedal or a wave of your hand. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Brabantia Touch

2. Simplehuman Semi-Round

3. Simplehuman Butterfly

Editor's Notes

August 20, 2020:

This list was packed with a host of reliable, well-loved selections, but we felt that we would be remiss to not include an option with a motion sensor. The Ninestars Automatic opens with a simple wave of the hand, helping to reduce cross-contamination in the kitchen when cooking and doing other chores, and making it easy to empty dustpans or scrape plates into its opening. It runs off three D batteries that last quite some time before needing a change. You can also open and close it via a button if needed, and the removable inner bucket and top ring are easy to rinse off with a hose when they get funky. Just be sure to never immerse the part of the lid with the sensor in water or you'll damage it. We said goodbye to the United Solutions Wastebasket, which is priced a little too high to justify its plain design and lack of features to make room for the Ninestars model.

If you're looking for a good office or bathroom trash can the Umbra Treela is a generously sized option that can lend a refined touch while the Simplehuman Profile features a slim silhouette that can be nestled easily beside toilets. If you need something rugged for outdoor use, the Rubbermaid Slim Jim and Suncast Hideaway will both stand the test of time, with the latter also functioning well as a laundry hamper.

For keeping dogs and children at bay, the Songmics Step and Simplehuman Semi-Round are hard to beat, while the Brabantia Touch and Simplehuman Butterfly each provide elegance and functionality, as well as fingerprint resistance, to your kitchen.

July 30, 2019:

Thanks to its slim design, the Simplehuman Butterfly can be placed at the end of a countertop or kitchen island without getting in the way, and its pedal is engineered to last at least 150,000 steps. Its brushed finish is easy to clean, resistant to fingerprints, and comes in black or stainless steel. The 2-in-1 design of the Songmics Step allows you to keep trash and recyclables all in one place, and the bins can be removed for cleaning. The lids can't be opened without using the pedals, so pets won't be able to get to the garbage, even if they overturn it. The Simplehuman Semi-Round has a basic, no-frills design that will complement any kitchen decor, and it's made from thick and durable plastic with a strong steel pedal and a soft coated wall bumper to prevent scratches and dents.

The Rubbermaid Slim Jim is a heavy-duty option made from commercial-grade materials, and at just 11 inches wide, it can fit into tight spaces. It has built-in vents to create airflow and reduce suction, so bags won't get stuck. Suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, the Suncast Hideaway is tough and weather-resistant. The lid locks closed to keep out kids, pets, and wild animals, and it won't blow open on windy days.

If you're looking for a small trash can for an office or bathroom, the Simplehuman Profile is a stylish choice that takes up very little space. The inner bucket lifts out, making it easy to empty, and the lid closes slowly without making any noise. The Umbra Treela is made from polypropylene that looks like wood and comes in light and dark finishes. It has a 4.5-gallon capacity, but the open-top design may not be the best for those with pets and young children.

Special Honors

Labrazel Ava Gold Waste Basket To add a luxurious touch to your bathroom, dressing room, or office, consider the Ava, which is handcrafted in Italy by skilled artisans. It's made from ceramic layered in gold leaf and lightly brushed with an antique glaze and sports an appealing, softly rounded shape for simplicity. The company offers other small receptacles in luxe materials like alabaster, crystal, and shell.

Commercial Zone 35-Gallon Open-Top Waste Container Suitable for upscale office suites, this offering from Commercial Zone is made to stand the test of time, as well as heavy use. The square design fits easily within corners, and imprinted details and a sleek stainless steel finish add an air of sophistication. The generous 35-gallon capacity is large enough to handle daily traffic, while the bottom-mounted rubber base ring keeps the unit in place to prevent tipping and protect floors.

4. Songmics Step

5. Ninestars Automatic

6. Rubbermaid Slim Jim

7. Suncast Hideaway

8. Simplehuman Profile

9. Umbra Venti

10. Umbra Treela

A Brief History Of Waste Disposal

For early humans, garbage consisted of animal bones, vegetable waste, and the detritus that remained from making fires.

Garbage is one of those things that you never think about, unless it's piling up around you. The fact of the matter is, however, we've been dealing with waste for our entire existence.

It wasn't always plastic and paper that we had to worry about. For early humans, garbage consisted of animal bones, vegetable waste, and the detritus that remained from making fires. Some of that trash — like the bones and other edible pieces — may have been instrumental in forging our relationship with dogs, though, so it was well worth it.

The things that were tossed out ended up in holes dug outside of camps or cities — the first landfills.

Around 200 C.E., the Romans came up with the idea for the world's first garbage truck. It was actually two men pushing a wagon, tossing waste into it as they went along, then later emptying it at a remote location.

This practice would continue through the Middle Ages, although many cities were lax in the disposal process. Most citizens just tossed their waste out in the street, where it would pile up and attract rats — who brought a special bubonic gift along with them.

Once people began to suspect that all this trash was killing people, Britain decided to make it mandatory to keep your front lawn clean. Unfortunately, people largely ignored this statute, and waste continued to pile in the streets until 1354, when King Edward III ordered rakers to pick up and remove the garbage once a week.

About 50 years later, a law was passed commanding citizens to keep their garbage inside their homes until the day the rakers came along. Still, people tended to just throw things in the street whenever they felt like it.

The first trash can wouldn't hit the scene until the 19th century. In England in 1875, garbage receptacles were placed in neighborhoods to hold ash, and were emptied every week.

Plastic bins made their debut in the 1930s, and by this time, most people kept trash cans inside the house. Municipal garbage collection was a standard service, and garbage trucks began to be seen roaming the streets.

By the late 1960s, people began to recycle, which meant sorting trash — and having multiple trashcans. Today, most homes have several waste baskets inside, and regular trash collection is expected in every major city.

In fact, most places nowadays frown on you just throwing your waste out in the street. Then again, coming down with the bubonic plague is a fantastic way to get out of going to work.

What To Look For In A Trash Can

Listen, we're not going to try to convince you that buying a trashcan is a life-or-death decision. If you get the wrong one, though, it can make your life more complicated than it needs to be.

Decide what size you need before you go shopping. While getting the biggest one you can find might seem smart, especially if you're lazy, remember that the longer you go without emptying your bin, the smellier your home will be. Try to find a balance between one that doesn't need to be emptied every few hours and one that won't turn into a festering trash pile after a few days.

Another great way to limit odors is to get one with a lid, preferably one that seals shut.

Another great way to limit odors is to get one with a lid, preferably one that seals shut. This keeps the smells inside, and also keeps your pooch from digging around for a snack when you're not home.

Surprisingly enough, the shape of the can plays a big role in how convenient it can be. Rectangular cans can hold more, and hold it in a shape that's easy to manipulate when you just have to stuff more trash in there.

Make it easy to discern which can is for trash and which is for recycling. A good way to do this is to buy a blue can for the recycling, making it easily identifiable to anyone in the house.

Stainless steel models are more attractive than their plastic counterparts, but they're more expensive and tend to dent easily. Both trap odors about equally well, but it's cheaper to replace a plastic one if you can't quite get the smell out.

Don't spend too much time on this decision, obviously, but you should give it some consideration. After all, if you get the wrong one, then you're just going to have to buy a trashcan in order to throw your trashcan away.

How To Limit Your Waste

It's amazing how fast garbage can pile up. A lot of this is due to the fact that everything we buy nowadays comes encased in a ton of plastic, but waste of all kinds seems like it can overrun you in a day or two if you're not careful.

Trying to reduce that waste is something you should seriously consider — regardless of whether you're doing it to save the planet, or just to save yourself a trip to the bin outside.

Don't use paper plates or plastic cups, avoid K-cups, and replace your newspaper and magazine subscriptions with their digital alternatives.

The best way to do this is simply by buying less stuff. Not only do possessions not bring you happiness, they also cost you money. Buying less can potentially improve both your mood and your bank balance.

Don't throw things away when they break, either. You might be able to fix everything from your cell phone to that shirt with the hole in it.

Food waste is a big problem, as well. Rather than just throw it all out, consider composting it and using it to feed your garden.

Try to swap out disposable items for reusable ones at every opportunity. Don't use paper plates or plastic cups, avoid K-cups, and replace your newspaper and magazine subscriptions with their digital alternatives.

The great thing about this is that, not only will you feel better about reducing your carbon footprint, you'll also have less junk in your way when you're at home. And that frees you up to buy more stuff.

Gia Vescovi-Chiordi
Last updated by Gia Vescovi-Chiordi

Born in Arizona, Gia is a writer and autodidact who fled the heat of the desert for California, where she enjoys drinking beer, overanalyzing the minutiae of life, and channeling Rick Steves. After arriving in Los Angeles a decade ago, she quickly nabbed a copywriting job at a major clothing company and derived years of editing and proofreading experience from her tenure there, all while sharpening her skills further with myriad freelance projects. In her spare time, she teaches herself French and Italian, has earned an ESL teaching certificate, traveled extensively throughout Europe and the United States, and unashamedly devours television shows and books. The result of these pursuits is expertise in fashion, travel, beauty, literature, textbooks, and pop culture, in addition to whatever obsession consumes her next.

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