Best Car Trash Bags

Updated September 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

60 Models Considered
20 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
81 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for Best car trash bags

Does the inside of your car seem to be a magnet for trash? Amid the hustle and bustle of everyday life, keeping the car tidy can sometimes feel like a struggle, and even more so when there are pint-size passengers in the back seat. If you're looking for a way to cut back on clutter and reclaim your ride, investing in a car trash bag is a great place to start.

Car trash bags come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they're all designed to help keep your car clean and trash-free. While some attach to the back of a headrest, others strap onto the console, and a few are made to stand on the floor. Many car trash bags also come with extra pockets or compartments, allowing you to keep essential items like fresh tissues or snacks within easy reach.

If you're ready to conquer that car clutter, read on. Our buying guide walks you through everything you need to know to choose the best car trash bag for your vehicle. Already know what you're looking for? 

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Unlike a makeshift trash bag made of a grocery bag, a car trash bag will never end up getting jammed under the seat or tangled around your feet.

Key considerations

Types

Car trash bags come in three basic types: hanging, standing, and cup holder-mounted. Take a look at the following to find out which is best for you.

Hanging: These car trash bags come with adjustable straps that can be secured to a headrest, console, glove box, or gear stick. If you're looking for a versatile option that can be used in more than one area of your car, a hanging car trash bag is a solid choice.

Standing: Standing car trash bags are designed to sit on the floor. They generally have sturdy sides and a solid, sometimes weighted base. Most have carpet clips or a hook-and-loop finish on the bottom to help them stick to the carpet and stay upright. If you have limited space in your car or picky passengers who don't want a hanging trash bag hovering near their faces, a standing model might be your best bet.

Cup holders: While these trash cans can hardly be described as "bags," they serve more or less the same purpose. These mini trash cans sit in a cup holder and are ideal for a solo driver in need of a disposal system for small items. If you're interested in a cup holder trash can, it's important to note that most have a very limited capacity. Finding the right size can be tricky because cup holder dimensions vary from car to car.

Size and capacity

From used tissues and receipts to fast food wrappers and empty soda cans, car trash bags hold it all. However, exactly how much they hold varies quite a bit. While some car trash bags only have space for daily trash, others can hold an entire road trip's worth. Larger car trash bags naturally have a greater capacity, but they also take up more space. If you don't have much room to spare and your passengers generate a lot of trash, consider purchasing two smaller trash bags. This way, you can install one in the back and one in the front without taking up too much space in either area.

Lids and closures

Lids or closures can help keep trash out of sight and often work to minimize odors as well. A sturdy lid also keeps trash from flying out if you hit a pothole. Some lids are fitted with rubber flaps or elastic closures that allow you to push trash through without opening the trash bag. This can be particularly helpful if you only have one hand to spare because it eliminates the need to lift, lower, and secure the lid every time you throw something away.

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Did You Know?
A medium to large car trash bag with a few storage pockets can help streamline any road trip. If you're sharing the back seat with an infant or toddler, opt for a model that comes with a tissue dispenser and fill it with wet wipes for quick and easy cleanups.
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BestReviews

Features

Materials

Durability: The materials that make up a car trash bag are directly linked to its durability. Thick and sturdy canvas, nylon, and polyester are all good choices if you're looking for something that will last longer than a few trips. Don't forget to inspect the stitching as well; after all, a sturdy body means nothing if your trash bag is coming apart at the seams. Quality, reinforced stitching will help keep your car trash bag from bottoming out when you least expect it.

Water resistance: Some car trash bags have a water-resistant coating while others feature waterproof liners. Even if you don't plan to put soda cans, coffee cups, or other drippy items in your car trash bag, a water-resistant lining can still come in handy for moist items like wet wipes and used tissues, or greasy takeout wrappers that might otherwise soak through and stain your car’s upholstery.

Storage

Many car trash bags come with mesh side pockets, small, zippered compartments, and even tissue holders to help you stay organized. However, not every model has these features, so if you like the idea of having a little extra storage space in your car, be sure to check for pockets and compartments before you buy.

Color and style

The vast majority of car trash bags are either black, brown, or beige. The reason for this is simply that these colors blend well with most car upholstery. However, if you're after a more cheerful look, a bit of searching can turn up more color options, and you might even find a few with stylish prints as well.

If you don't need a car trash bag all the time, consider a collapsible model that folds down quickly and easily between uses.

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Accessories

Seat back car organizer: Oasser Seat Back Organizers and Kick Mats
These two seat back organizers come with loads of pockets and compartments to keep your kids’ car-ride essentials organized, ready for action, and, most importantly, off your car floor. Plus, they can help save the seat backs from getting scuffed or dirty.

Car vacuum: Black+Decker Handheld Vacuum
Not all dirt can be picked up and put in a trash bag. A car vacuum helps you tackle dust, sand, crumbs, pet hair, and any other dirt that may be hiding out in the nooks and crannies of your car. We like this one from Black+Decker because it’s lightweight, bagless, and has a long battery life.

Car trash bag prices

Inexpensive: For between $5 and $10, you can find small cup holder trash cans as well as basic hanging car trash bags with minimal features.

Mid-range: The $10 to $15 price range yields a wealth of options. Cup holder trash can duos, sets of two simple hanging models, or a single but elaborate hanging trash bag with desirable features like a waterproof liner and storage pockets can all be found at this price point.

Expensive: Standing car trash bags and large hanging models with handy features generally cost the most, anywhere from $15 to $30.

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Did You Know?
Most car trash bags can easily double as a storage basket, and some insulated models can work as a cooler.
Staff
BestReviews

Tips

  • Opt for a versatile mounting system. Car trash bags that can be installed in a variety of different places offer the most convenience. For instance, a hanging car trash bag can be secured to the back of a headrest when you have passengers and moved to the glove box or gear stick for easier access when you're driving solo.
  • Buy an extra car trash bag. If every seat in your car is taken, purchasing a trash bag for the front and the back can be a good idea. You won't have to worry about the distraction of having trash being passed back and forth while you're driving, and you’ll be better equipped to handle the amount of garbage a full car can generate.
  • Check the measurements before you buy. Headrests, cup holders and consoles vary in size by quite a bit. While many car trash bags are advertised as having a “universal” fit, there's no guarantee that any given one will fit in every vehicle. The best way to ensure secure installation is to measure the appropriate area of your car and compare these numbers to the dimensions of the trash bag's fastening system.
  • Use a liner. Placing a plastic liner or even a plastic grocery bag in your car trash bag will help keep it cleaner longer. Using a liner can also make emptying your trash bag much easier.
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Try not to overfill a hanging car trash bag. Doing so can weigh down the bag and may cause clasp failure or torn seams.

FAQ

Q. Is it safe to wash a car trash bag?

A. Not all car trash bags can be washed, and it's always a good idea to refer to the care instructions before you set about cleaning one. As a rule of thumb, models with removable waterproof liners are generally safe to toss in the washing machine (don't forget to remove the liner first). Car trash bags with a waterproof coating can usually be hand-washed in lukewarm water (high temperatures can break down the coating, so be careful), but it's still a good idea to check the care instructions first.

Q. How much stuff can a car trash bag hold?

A. As mentioned above, the total capacity of a car trash bag varies dramatically from model to model. While some list the capacity in liters, not all do, and figuring out just how much any given model will hold can be tricky. Looking at the dimensions and comparing them to the size of a soda can will give you an idea of how much a particular trash bag can hold. Check online user reviews too. If you're still unsure, it might be a good idea to size up just in case.

Q. Will any liner work in a car trash bag?

A. The best way to prevent unnecessary messes is to use manufacturer-recommended liners. However, that doesn't mean that a liner of a similar size or even a plastic bag from the grocery store won't work. As long as it's big enough to fit inside the car trash bag without stretching, it should work just fine. To keep the liner from slipping down, make sure it's long enough to fold over the top of the car trash bag.
 

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