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Published Oct. 5, 2021

Trash cans are an absolute kitchen essential, and while you can make do with almost any receptacle, for a truly clean, well-functioning cook space, consider a touchless model. A convenient, hygienic touchless trash can opens at the wave of a hand or the tap of a foot. It makes it easier to get rid of garbage as you go about food prep and other kitchen chores without exposing your fingers to a dirty, germy lid.

Touchless trash cans may include a host of different features, from dual wing (or butterfly) lids to traditional hinged covers, and sensors that open the can as you approach to simple step-on pedals. Since all touchless trash cans are not created equal, it’s important to find the model that’s just right for you. Read on for shopping guidance to help ensure you get the best touchless trash cans for your kitchen.

How We Picked These Products

Methodology

To select the touchless trash cans described here, we researched top-rated models and considered a variety of options and features to choose units that would appeal to a broad spectrum of people. Though a sensor-based trash can might be perfect for some, the simplicity of the step mechanism might suit more basic (and budget-conscious) consumers. In fact, we found step-on models that worked just as seamlessly as those with sensors. Here are some of the crucial questions we kept in mind when choosing the trash cans for this guide:

  • Space: A sleek, tall yet sturdy trash can allows full filling of the bag while taking up little floor space is key for smaller kitchens.
  • Size: A wider mouth is best for those times when a pizza box, milk jug, or other large object needs to be tossed in the trash.
  • Lock: Some trash cans with manual controls may have a lock, while sensor models may be set to stay closed. Lockability can be important in homes with small children or curious pets.
  • Bag removal: On some inferior models, bag removal can be challenging while others have a flimsy bag ring at the top that won’t hold up. We selected touchless trash cans that make changing the bag a breeze. 
  • Odor control: Kitchen garbage tends to be smelly, especially if sitting in the can for a while. Some touchless trash cans address this with odor control.
  • Power: A touchless trash can with a sensor may draw power from an AC adapter or a set of batteries; bonus points for the trash can that takes both.

The Best Touchless Trash Cans: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: iTouchless 13 Gallon SensorCan Touchless Trash Can with Odor Control System

Big Mouth Model

This sensor trash can boasts a wide opening that makes it easy to throw away bulky waste. iTouchless

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Why It Made The Cut: The extra-wide opening makes it easy to toss in larger items while the sleek stainless steel finish repels smudges.

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 25.3 x 11.4 x 16.1 inches
  • Capacity: 13 gallons
  • Weight: 2.94 pounds

Pros:

  • Extra-large 12.75-inch opening
  • Uses batteries or AC adapter
  • Includes activated carbon filter

Cons:

  • Charger not included
  • Sensor sensitivity not adjustable

The brushed stainless-steel sensor trash can from iTouchless uses standard 13-gallon bags, which tuck away under the lid for a smooth, streamlined look. Simply wave a hand to instantly open the extra-large, 12.75-inch mouth for larger items, such as pizza boxes or milk cartons. Inside that lid, an activated carbon filter helps control odors (one filter is included with purchase). The trash can runs on four D batteries or an AC adapter (both sold separately).

The lid opens quickly and stays open while the indicator light is green, and the lid will not close on hands if an obstruction is detected. When the light blinks red, the lid is about to close. The stainless steel finish suits many kitchen decor styles and it’s also smudge-proof for a sleek, clean look that will last for years.

Best Value: Glad Stainless Steel Trash Can with Clorox Odor Protection

Large Loads, Small Price

The lid on this model closes after five seconds but can stay open longer to let you dump in more garbage. GLAD

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Why It Made The Cut: A handy bag holder and the odor-fighting power of Clorox make the affordable price of this can even more appealing.

Specs: 

  • Dimensions: 14.5 x 16.2 x 27.8 inches
  • Weight: 15.07 pounds
  • Capacity: 20 gallons

Pros:

  • Odor-blocking technology
  • Integrated bag holder
  • Hinged lid for easy removal of bags

Cons:

  • Bags can be difficult to remove
  • Hinge a bit flimsy

This sleek, 20-gallon capacity stainless-steel option from Glad has ample size and features for an affordable price. The large capacity holds up to 50 percent more trash than the typical kitchen trash cans, and extra bags can be stowed in a roll behind the can for easy dispensing and neat presentation. Bag rings inside the unit hold the slack of the bag and make it easier to fill, and the hinged frame makes for easy removal of full bags. 

This touchless trash can boasts Clorox odor and antimicrobial protection to inhibit mold and mildew growth on the lid and lid frame, areas where food and other debris are most likely to touch. The motion sensor opens the can immediately and holds it open for five seconds, allowing for easy disposal of most trash. The stainless steel finish resists fingerprints and smudges.

Easiest to Clean: EKO Phantom-T 50 Liter / 13.2 Gallon Vertical Motion Sensor Trash Can

Less Mess and Minimalist

This option has a soft-close lid and an inner rim design that helps keep the bag in place. EKO

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Why It Made The Cut: This sleek and modern, easy-to-clean trash can has a dual wing lid that requires less space to open.

Specs: 

  • Dimensions: 14.8 x 9.8 x 24.4 inches
  • Weight: 15.02 pounds
  • Capacity: 13.2 gallon

Pros:

  • Dual wing lid
  • Sleek vertical design
  • Manual controls as well as sensors

Cons:

  • Can be tough to find the right bags
  • Hanging ring can be difficult to use

This touchless trash can from EKO has a vertical design to fit in tight places and a dual-wing lid that requires less space to open than some competitors. The inner ring holds a trash bag securely to limit the risk of accidents yet allows for easy removal. The rim conceals the bag from view to maintain the sleek look.

A sensor controls the quiet, soft-close lid via six AA batteries (not included). There are also manual options that disable the sensor to give you more control on opening and closing. The plastic base is vented for odor mediation and easier cleaning, and the brushed stainless-steel finish repels smudges. Note that the proper bag size appears to be proprietary, and it can be a challenge to find bags that fit this model.

Best Design: Cozy Castle 16 Gallon Dual Step Trash Can & Recycle Bin

Multi-purpose Machine

This dual bin for trash and recycling uses step-on touchless technology to lever up the lid for a hands-free experience. Cozy Castle

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Why It Made The Cut: Two cans—one for trash and one for recycling—in the same convenient unit, plus a simple step-on mechanism for smooth opening and closing.

Specs: 

  • Dimensions: 30.91 x 12.01 x 25.98 inches
  • Weight: 19.90 pounds
  • Capacity: 16 gallons x 2

Pros:

  • Durable, simple step technology
  • Two bins, one for trash and one for recycling
  • Gentle, silent closing

Cons:

  • Takes up space
  • Bags might slip from their mooring

This two-bin side-by-side trash can from Cozy Castle provides ample room for trash and recycling. Each receptacle features step technology to open the lids, which can be adjusted to stay open, creating a convenient option for those who prefer easy access during meal prep. The mouth is large enough to accommodate a 10-inch pizza 

The base is non-slip and stable, as are the metal steps, which are grooved to ensure that a foot won’t slide off during use. The cans are air tight and a deodorizer compartment further helps control smell. A handle on the back aids portability, but the double-can model will take up its fair share of floor space in the kitchen. 

Best for Tight Spaces: hOmeLabs 13 Gallon Automatic Trash Can for Kitchen

Fully Adjustable Sensor

The easily-adjustable sensor means this trash can be used in even the smallest kitchens, and might even work for the bathroom. hOmeLabs

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Why It Made The Cut: This tiny but mighty trash can features a butterfly opening that requires less space to open, as well as a fully adjustable sensor that allows for a variety of placement options.

Specs: 

  • Dimensions: 16.2 x 10.3 x 22.5 inches 
  • Weight: 9.26 pounds
  • Capacity: 13 gallons

Pros:

  • Butterfly opening mechanism
  • 90-degree adjustable sensor
  • AC adapter is included

Cons:

  • Smaller than similar options
  • Inner plastic ring seems a little flimsy

The quick-open dual-wing or “butterfly” top of this stainless steel trash can from hOmeLabs has a sensor that adjusts a full 90 degrees, thus ensuring this can will sit underneath a cabinet if required, or can be right out in the open. Manual controls are also included. The lid can stay up for those who want to keep it open while prepping for meals or doing heavy cleaning in the kitchen. When you do close the lid, the countdown timer at the top of the can helps show you just how much time you have to throw away that last bit of debris.

The AC adapter is included, though the unit can also use 4 C batteries for operation, and the On/Off button allows to turn it completely off while on vacation. This also serves to stop any opening of the can, preventing little children from opening it up to drop things inside. A smart ring bag holds any bag of 13-gallon capacity with ease, and hides it away to maintain the streamlined look of the can.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Touchless Trash Can

When thinking about buying a touchless trash can, consider a variety of factors and features, including:

Material

Stainless steel is a rugged (but heavy) option that can stand up to heavy use and kitchen traffic. In a brushed finish, it will stave off fingerprints and smudges. Plastic is lightweight but may require more frequent cleaning.

Size

The standard size of a kitchen trash bin is 13 gallons, which many people prefer because the full bag won’t be too heavy or cumbersome to manage. However, an extra-large can might better suit a big family, while you can also find a smaller capacity for a tiny kitchen or bathroom use. 

Sensor

Some touchless trash cans use a sensor instead of a foot-pedal to open the can, a feature especially suited to those with limited mobility.  The best sensor will be waterproof, detect motion from about a foot away and be either upward-facing or adjustable to prevent detection of pets and small children.

FAQs

Q: How does a touchless trash can work?

Touchless trash cans work with either a foot pedal or a motion sensor. Those with a motion sensor are powered by either an AC adapter or typical alkaline batteries. Some offer all options: a foot pedal and a sensor, complete with an AC adapter (the batteries are always sold separately).

Q: Do touchless trash cans lock?

Yes, many have manual controls that prevent the lid from going up; effectively, they disable the sensor. An exterior lock may be placed on these can but will require touching to open it.

Q: How often should I clean a touchless trash can?

It’s difficult to put an exact number to this, since a touchless trash can, like any other, should be cleaned whenever it gets dirty or foul smelling inside. Even if a can appears to be clean, mold and mildew can develop. So as a general rule, clean the interior with a mild dish soap-and-water solution every six months.  A deeper clean with baking soda can help banish lingering odors.

Final Thoughts

The ideal touchless trash can should open up at a moment’s notice, softly close when finished, offer manual controls in addition to the sensor—and look great while doing it all. The iTouchless 13 Gallon SensorCan Touchless Trash Can with Odor Control System checks many boxes and suits most users. Those who prefer a basic step-on mechanism may appreciate the Cozy Castle 16 Gallon Dual Step Trash Can & Recycle Bin.

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