How To Choose A Kitchen Trash Can

Did you think that any kitchen trash can would do? Rubbish! From lids to size and material, there are quite a few things that you should consider if you don't want to end up with a painfully impractical garbage can… and unpleasant smells.

Here's how to choose a kitchen trash can that matches your needs, budget and habits the most without wasting your patience every time you use it.

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What Are the Different Types of Kitchen Trash Cans?

The main difference is the lid. Sure, because you'll keep your kitchen trash can indoors you won't have to worry about raccoons (hopefully!), but how you open it will still make a difference:

  • No lid: this is surely quick and practical, especially when chucking vegetable peels as you prep your food, but… let's be honest: it won't smell nice! We don't recommend this type of garbage can unless you're planning on keeping it inside a cupboard and emptying it every day;
Decorative Gray Steel Waste Basket
Black Plastic Round Trash Can
Silver 18 Gallons Steel Open Trash Can
Single Base Stainless Steel Pull Out Trash Can
Pull Out White Simple Trash Can
Stainless Steel Rectangular Recycling Bin
  • Standard or lift lid: these are usually cheaper, and fewer mechanisms mean less breakage; however, these lids can be a bit impractical, since you'll have to touch them with your hands (not the best when you're cooking!);
Trash and Recycling Silver Steel Bin
White Durable Lightweight Manual Lift Wastebasket
Black Plastic Manual Lift Trash Can
Solid Wood Stylish Rectangular Trash Can
  • Swing-top lids: these are also quite cheap, but can be a recipe for disaster! Not only they require you to touch the lid: they can also result in spillages, especially when your bin starts to fill up. Don't forget that you'll also end up wiping them more often;
Basics Swing Top Trash Can
Easy To Use Swing Top Trash Can
Trash Can Ideal for Kitchen Bathroom Office
Plastic Swing Top Trash Can
Stylish Black Swing Top Trash Can
  • Pedal: you won't need to touch the lid! Pedals are a very practical choice; just keep in mind that they might break after a while if your kids aren't too gentle when pressing them;
Basics Plastic Step On Trash Can
Stainless Steel Step On Trash Can
Step On Multi-Compartments Trash Recycling Bin
Plastic Black Step On Trash Can
Grey Gallon Step On Recycling Bin
Durable Rectangular Step On Trash Can
  • Sensor-activated: no-touch nor pedals, this is a fantastic choice if you only want the best of the best and you're happy to spend the right amount of money for it, because buying a cheap one will usually mean that the sensor will stop working after a few months.
13 Gallon Motion Sensor Trash Can
Automatic Motion Sensor Trash Can
Stainless Steel Motion Sensor Trash Can
Exclusive Motion Sensor Trash Can
Modern Motion Sensor Trash Can
Sensor 8 Gallon Touchless Trash Can

What Size Should a Kitchen Trash Can Be?

There are two things that you must look at in order to determine the right size for your kitchen trash can:

  • The space in the cupboard or kitchen where you're planning on placing it: make sure you measure it, without forgetting about the available height and allowing enough room to lift the lid depending on the design you're planning on going for;
  • How much trash you usually accumulate: be honest!

    • Keep in mind that a small bin could require you to take out the trash too often, but one that is too big for your needs will only result in a slow build up of rubbish and, consequently, unpleasant smells;
    • To give you an idea, the standard size is 13 gallons, which is a handy starting point for families.
    • However, if you live on your own, you might want to look at around 8 gallons instead, unless you consume lots of bulkier items such as large milk jugs.

What is the Best Material for a Kitchen Trash Can?

Your best choice is a metal like stainless steel: these trash cans are durable, easy to clean, and great at retaining odors. Other options include:

  • Plastic: usually cheaper, it does look less glamorous, but it doesn't really matter if you're going to place it inside a cupboard;
Space Saving Pull Out Trash Can
Patterned 13 Gallon Trash Can Set
Beige Trash Can with Slow Close Lid
Plastic BPA free Green Round Trash Can
Large Capacity Grey Pull Out Trash Can
  • Wood: it's undoubtedly a beautiful option and it might even complement the décor style of your kitchen, but an accidental leakage could result in a wet, smelly mess;
Manual Solid Wood Cabinet Trash Can
Rustic Style 13 Gallon Trash Can
Single Solid Wood Touch Top Trash Can
Double Pull Out Trash Can
Double Soft-Close Pull Out Trash Can
  • Wicker or rattan: much like wood, they're a more decorative option, but, unless you already own other wicker elements, they'd be better suited for your patio.
18.5 Gallons Wicker Rattan Trash Can
Stylish Wicker Rattan Trash Can
Hand-woven Resin Wicker Trash Can
Square Wicker Trash Can with Manual Lift
Double 9.5 Gallon Wicker Rattan Waste Basket
Stylish Rattan Wicker Waste Basket

Quick Tips

Let's go through a little recap to make sure you choose a kitchen trash can that doesn't end up annoying you in the long run:

  • Consider your habits, durability and where you're planning on placing the trash can in order to pick one with the right lid for you
  • As for size, measure its designated space (allowing enough room to lift the lid!) and think of how much rubbish you usually accumulate on a weekly basis: 13 gallons is the standard size for kitchen trash cans
  • While wood, plastic, wicker and rattan might be a better fit for your décor and budget, stainlesssteel is the best material: it's durable and impeccable at retaining odors.