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Updated Mar 8, 2022 12:20 PM

Most of us don’t put a lot of thought into the trash bags we buy, opting instead for whatever’s on sale at the grocery store. But high-quality garbage bags offer much better performance and durability. Shopping for trash bags online, however, can be overwhelming because there are so many options available.

We’ll break down what to look for when shopping for the best trash bags for your home and discuss the key considerations to keep in mind as you shop. Keep reading for tips on choosing the best options, and explore our curated picks for the best garbage bags on the market.

How We Selected These Products 

Methodology 

While it’s easy to assume that all trash bags offer similar performance, a number of factors affect their functionality. Several years of experience covering home goods as well as extensive product research went into choosing our final curated selection. We reviewed over 30 types of trash bags and weighed a number of practical considerations before making our recommendations. 

Bag thickness: Trash bags are made from thin, strong plastic but vary in thickness. We only included products with a thickness of at least 0.7 mils to ensure the highest quality. 

Extra features: We gave preference to models with added features like odor neutralization and sturdy drawstring ties. 

Size: Trash bags come in a wide variety of sizes. When possible, however, we linked to 13-gallon trash bags for ease of price comparison since that’s the most popular size for most households. We did include one larger bag for bigger outdoor jobs. 

The Best Trash Bags: Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall: Glad ForceFlex Tall Kitchen Drawstring Trash Bags

Best Overall

Glad’s ForceFlex Tall Kitchen Drawstring Trash Bags have a 13-gallon capacity and are made with a double layer of ultrathin, stretchy plastic. GLAD

Why It Made The Cut: These bags from Glad feature the brand’s patented FlexForce technology, which makes them one of the strongest picks on the market. 

Specs:

  • Capacity: 13 gallons
  • Number of Bags: 80
  • Drawstring: Yes

Pros:

  • Include odor protection
  • Three-ply drawstring handle
  • Made with FlexForce technology

Cons:

  • Not eco-friendly

These 13-gallon bags from Glad are designed to fit a standard kitchen trash can and to prevent leaks, contain odors, and ensure the bag stays in place. These bags feature two ultrathin layers, with the outer layer providing additional leak protection. The material’s thickness is just 0.72 mils, but Glad uses patented ForceFlex technology to ensure that their bags can stretch and expand without tearing. 

The drawstring is designed to grip the trash can while the bag is in use to prevent it from slipping out of place. When it’s time to bring the bag outside, the three-ply drawstring is strong enough to allow users to lift the bag without worrying about the bag tearing. 

OdorShield technology fights odor-causing bacteria without introducing any new artificial scents and contains odors for up to five days. 

Best Value: Amazon Basics Flextra Tall Kitchen Drawstring Trash Bags

Best Value

Amazon Basics makes tear-resistant trash bags with a sturdy drawstring closure that makes them easy to transport. Amazon Basics

Why It Made The Cut: These affordable bags from Amazon Basics are a great budget pick but are able to stand up to name-brand products when it comes to quality and durability. 

Specs:

  • Capacity: 13 gallons
  • Number of Bags: 120
  • Drawstring: Yes

Pros:

  • Excellent value
  • Include drawstrings
  • Tear-resistant

Cons:

  • No odor control
  • Not eco-friendly

Amazon Basics makes high-quality products at competitive prices, and their kitchen trash bags are no exception. These 13-gallon bags come in a box of 120, making them an economical choice that can stand up to many of their brand-name competitors. At 0.9 mils, the bags are thin but stretchy and are designed to be strong and tear-resistant. 

The drawstring makes it easy to close and transport the bag once it’s full, and helps the bag to stay in place when it’s in a trash can. One downside of this budget pick is that it doesn’t feature any odor control mechanism, so it’s best for households that take out their trash a few times each week. 

Best Large: Glad ForceFlexPlus Drawstring Large Trash Bags

Best Large

The Glad ForceFlexPlus Drawstring bags have a 30-gallon capacity and are tear- and puncture-resistant. GLAD

Why It Made The Cut: With a 30-gallon capacity and strong two-layer construction, these bags from Glad are perfect for big outdoor cleanup jobs. 

Specs:

  • Capacity: 30 gallons
  • Number of Bags: 50
  • Drawstring: Yes

Pros:

  • Large capacity
  • Include drawstring
  • Use ForceFlexPlus technology

Cons:

  • No odor control
  • Not eco-friendly

For bigger jobs, shoppers should look no further than these bags from Glad. With a 30-gallon capacity, they’re perfect for major cleaning tasks like clearing out a basement, garage, or shed. While the bags are just 0.85 mils thick, they feature ForceFlexPlus, the brand’s patented technology that allows each bag to stretch and expand without tearing. Due to the dual-layer design, they are resistant to punctures, tears, and leaks and can even accommodate sharp objects. 

Each bag features a wide drawstring that is strong enough to support the bag while transporting it from one location to another. These bags don’t feature odor control, but since they’re not intended for kitchen use and are more appropriate for large outdoor jobs, this feature isn’t necessarily required. It’s important to note that since these bags are much larger than standard kitchen bags, the cost per unit is significantly higher. 

Most Sustainable: Reli. Biodegradable 13-Gallon Trash Bags

Most Sustainable

These 13-gallon bags perform just as well as their competitors but feature unique technology that allows them to biodegrade much more quickly. Reli.

Why It Made The Cut: Like the best-quality trash bags, these are made from polyethylene, but they have a unique additive that allows them to biodegrade 100 to 1,000 times more quickly.

Specs:

  • Capacity: 13 gallons
  • Number of Bags: 100
  • Drawstring: Yes

Pros:

  • Biodegrade faster than standard polyethylene
  • Made with durable high-density materials
  • Affordable price

Cons:

  • Still require 24 to 36 months to biodegrade

Finding biodegradable trash bags that can actually compete with standard polyethylene bags is nearly impossible. Compostable bags aren’t nearly as strong and will often tear when filled with 13 gallons of kitchen waste. However, these bags from Reli have a unique construction that includes additives from EPI Environmental Technologies, which help the plastic to biodegrade at a rate that’s between 100 and 1,000 times faster than standard polyethylene, depending on the disposal environment. 

They’re made with high-density materials so that they can handle heavy loads without tearing. The bottom of each bag features a star seal design, making them even more durable. Unlike many other eco-friendly options, these bags are competitively priced and can be compared to offerings from other popular brands. 

Best Scented: Hefty Ultra Strong Tall Kitchen Trash Bags

Best Scented

The Hefty Ultra Strong Tall Kitchen Trash Bags feature odor neutralization and added fragrance to banish unpleasant smells for good. Hefty

Why It Made The Cut: Many scented trash bags simply add an extra layer of fragrance to mask unpleasant smells, but these bags from Hefty use Arm & Hammer to neutralize odors as well. 

Specs:

  • Capacity: 13 gallons
  • Number of Bags: 80
  • Drawstring: Yes

Pros:

  • Include break-resistant drawstring
  • Neutralize odors and provide a pleasant aroma
  • Made with tear-resistant polyethylene 

Cons:

  • Not eco-friendly

Some trash bags feature odor-neutralizing mechanisms, but some households need something to further mask unpleasant smells. These bags from Hefty use Arm & Hammer to neutralize odors, but also feature a lavender-and-sweet-vanilla scent that users love. Hefty is known for the strength of their trash bags, and these are no exception. They’re made with flexible plastic that resists rips, tears, and punctures, making them durable enough for everyday use and bigger cleanup jobs. 

The break-resistant drawstring of these bags will help you get your trash to the curb without incident and also help to secure the bag when it’s in a trash can. The bags have a 13-gallon capacity, making them suitable for standard kitchen trash cans. 

Things to Consider When Choosing Trash Bags

With so many types of trash bags on the market, choosing the right ones for your home requires careful consideration. Keep the following factors in mind while making your purchase.

Capacity

The first decision shoppers must make is what size bags they need. Trash bag sizes are typically measured by their capacity in gallons. There are four sizes that are popular for regular household use. 

  • Bathroom trash bags generally have a 4-gallon capacity.
  • Bedroom and office trash bags have a capacity of between 7 and 10 gallons. 
  • Kitchen trash bags have a standard capacity of 13 gallons. 
  • Outdoor trash bags are meant for bigger jobs and have large capacities of between 20 and 30 gallons. 

A garbage can’s capacity is often listed on the bottom or the side. 

Material

Generally speaking, trash bags are made from a type of plastic called polyethylene that performs well because it’s both strong and flexible. Though not all manufacturers will get into specifics about the type of polyethylene their bags are constructed with, it’s still helpful to know what to look for depending on your needs. Low-density polyethylene is more flexible and therefore resists tears when it’s stretched out. High-density polyethylene, on the other hand, doesn’t stretch as much but is more durable and puncture-resistant. High-density polyethylene is also less expensive to manufacture and generally results in a cheaper price tag. 

One downside of polyethylene is that it takes a long time to biodegrade, so it’s not an eco-friendly material. Those looking to reduce their ecological footprint should consider biodegradable trash bags instead.

The thickness of a trash bag is measured in mils; 1 mil represents one one-thousandth of an inch. Generally speaking, a trash bag’s material measures between 0.7 and 3 mils. Look for a product that measures at least 0.9 mils for a standard kitchen trash bag.  

Additional Features

Trash bags all share common functionality, but many also come with desirable additional features. 

  • Odor control: The best trash bags include odor-control mechanisms to prevent unpleasant smells from dissipating into your space. 
  • Fragrance: Some models are scented in order to mask unwanted odors. However, these artificial fragrances may not be suitable for those with sensitivities.  
  • Ties: Ties serve multiple purposes, securing the bag easily while you transport it outdoors and securing the bag to the rim of the trash can. 

FAQs

Q: What type of trash bags are the strongest?

Those looking for the strongest trash bags should consider a product made from high-density polyethylene with a thickness of over 2 mils. 

Q: What’s the best eco-friendly alternative to regular trash bags?

Standard trash bags take years to biodegrade in a landfill, so if you’re looking to make an eco-friendly choice, consider a product that’s marked as being biodegradable. Do know, however, that these bags often can’t compete with standard polyethylene bags in terms of performance.

Q: How do I know which trash bag size I need?

Look on the bottom and sides of your trash can to find the capacity, which should be listed in gallons or liters. 

Final Thoughts

Our recommendations cover a variety of types and styles of trash bags to best suit your needs. The Glad ForceFlex Tall Kitchen Drawstring Trash Bags are our top pick because of their strength, odor-neutralizing capabilities, and high-quality drawstring ties. Our recommended choice for those on a budget are the Amazon Basics Flextra Tall Kitchen Drawstring Trash Bags, which offer excellent performance at a more affordable price.

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