It may hide your garbage, but that doesn’t mean your kitchen trash can has to be as unsightly as what’s inside. While the most important thing to look for when shopping for a kitchen trash can is functionality, you don’t have to sacrifice style. We rounded up our favorite trash cans that are as stylish as they are useful; they come in at all price points, so you can take the bin out from under the sink and make it a real, effective part of your space.
What to Consider Before Buying a Kitchen Trash Can
At first pass, you might think that buying a kitchen trash can doesn’t require a whole lot of forethought. While it’s true you don’t need to undertake as much research as you do for, say, a mattress, you still shouldn’t just grab the first one you see. Here’s what you should consider when buying a trash can:
Step cans: One of the more common types of trash cans, step cans open by stepping on a foot pedal. Not only are step cans super easy to use (especially when your hands are full or covered in food), but they’re also more hygienic, since you don’t actually have to touch anything.
Touch-top cans: Rather than opening with a foot pedal, touch-top cans open by touching the lid or a nearby button. They’re easy to use, but less hygienic.
Automatic cans: A newer type of trash can, automatic options open either by waving your hand near a sensor or by using voice activation. They’re much less reliable, though, and it’s likely you’ll end just opening it using another method.
In-cabinet cans: These trash cans go under your sink or slide out of a cabinet, making them invisible most of the time. They’re typically left open, so won’t do much for odor or pest control, but are a great option for smaller spaces.
Rectangular: Rectangular-shaped trash cans benefit from having a wider opening, so they make it easier to throw things away (especially when you’re scraping food off a plate). They fit nicely in most places, but can look particularly bulky in smaller kitchens.
Round: Round trash cans have smaller openings and probably aren’t the best for larger households. On the other hand, they fit nicely in corners and are less bulky than rectangular options, so you might prefer them if you live in a small space.
Spills and leaks are par for the course when it comes to kitchen trash cans, so you’ll want to search for options that are fairly easy to clean. Many models have removable bins for easy access—and of course, trash cans with darker interiors are best for hiding stains.
What We Look For in a Kitchen Trash Can
We tested a wide range of kitchen trash cans for our list, judging them on the following criteria:
If you’re serious about your kitchen trash situation, you can’t do better than Simplehuman. The iconic trash can (can you believe that’s a phrase we’re using?) is basically a status symbol, but in this case, it’s totally well deserved. There are several different Simplehuman models to choose from, but we recommend the Dual Compartment Step can for its versatility, functionality, and overall style. (FYI—this is the trash can we use in the Apartment Therapy office!) If, however, you don’t want a dual system, the Simplehuman 45-Liter Step Trash Can is your best bet.
The trash can has two compartments, with one meant for trash and one for recycling (the recycling side even comes with a blue plastic bucket to make disposing your recyclables as easy as possible). Simplehuman trash cans come with a liner pocket to make your liner storage more accessible, and the liner rim itself is covered by an outer lid. Put that all together with a stainless steel design (available in 3 colors!), and you’ve got a seriously impressive trash can that’s as functional as it is stylish.
Who It’s Best For: Those who want a 2-in-1 trash/recycling solution; those who want something built to last.
Good to Know: Simplehuman sells liners specifically for this trash can (but they aren’t necessary).
If budget is your primary concern, go for this basic yet reliable Rubbermaid trash can. With a 13-gallon capacity, it’s a good choice for bigger households and is made well enough to not have to replace every year. It’s made of plastic, which isn’t as effective as stainless steel for combating odors and pests, but the lid does a good enough job at making up for it. Plus, the foot pedal is made of stainless steel, making it much less finicky than its all-plastic counterparts. It’s not the most attractive option, but it also doesn’t draw attention—and that’s a blessing when it comes to the thing holding your trash.
Who It’s Best For: Those who want something straightforward and budget friendly.
Good to Know: Liner Lock prevents trash bag from sliding down.
On the other hand, if style is what you want, you’ll love this cute and compact trash can from Brabantia. It has a pretty unique design as far as trash cans go, with a touch-top mechanism and legs to make it taller despite its small size. It only has a 9-gallon capacity, but it’s actually pretty functional, thanks to its two removable inner buckets. Leave the buckets in to create a dual compartment setup, or remove them and use the entire space just for trash (or recycling).
Michael Kuhn, our Operations and Legal Affairs Manager, has the Bo Touch Bin and has this to say: “It’s super sleek and looks nothing like a trash can! It’s perfect for a small apartment, because its beautiful design means you don’t have to hide it away in your valuable under-counter space. It sits out in the open and makes a beautiful addition to my kitchen.” How’s that for a glowing review?
Who It’s Best For: Those with smaller households/smaller spaces; those who want something attractive.
Good to Know: Liners are included.
Another good option for those in smaller spaces, this round step can is simple, straightforward, and efficient. It’s great if you have just a tight corner available for a trash can, plus it’s made of stainless steel so it’s exceptionally durable (and looks good, too). Although the round shape means that the opening is smaller than you would find in a rectangular option, it fully opens for easy access—unlike a swing-top or fold-in lid. Similar to Simplehuman’s trash can, it also has a liner rim lid, but this one is smaller and not as noticeable. All in all, this is a smart choice: It’s small-space friendly, affordable, durable, and decently attractive.
Who It’s Best For: Those with smaller spaces; those who want something to fit in a corner.
Good to Know: Has a silent close lid.
We’re longtime fans of Joseph Joseph products, and the brand’s Totem Combo Bin might just be their most noteworthy product ever (our sister site Kitchn even published a comprehensive review on it). It’s a true workhorse, holding 16 gallons of trash and recycling in two streamlined compartments—and it even comes with a removable compost bin that can be stored within the general waste compartment or out on your countertop. Unlike other dual trash/recycling bins, the Totem takes advantage of vertical, rather than horizontal, space. This design is smart but does have its problems, as it creates a much more imposing appearance than other bins and definitely won’t blend in with the rest of your kitchen products. Overall, though, this is a smart choice for anyone who wants an all-in-one solution.
Who It’s Best For: Those with a lot of space; those who want an all-in-one product.
Good to Know: Comes with 3 food waste liners, 3 custom-fit liners, and 1 odor filter.
It’s not quite a kitchen trash can, but we had to include composters in the mix for those who are dedicated to limiting their kitchen trash. Like regular trash cans, composters are generally out in the open, typically on countertops—so you want it to be functional and nice enough to look at every day. This option from West Elm fulfills all those requirements: It’s big enough to hold 4.25-qt. of leftovers or scraps, but you won’t be annoyed that it’s taking up counter space. Plus, it’s made of sustainable bamboo fiber, making it a win-win.
Who It’s Best For: Those who want something stylish; those who want something made of eco-friendly materials.
Good to Know: It’s dishwasher safe.