Best Touchless Trash Cans

Updated December 2021
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Buying guide for best touchless trash cans

Tired of getting your hands dirty when you throw something in the trash? With a touchless trash can, you eliminate the risk of coming into contact with germs and bacteria inside your trash can. The hands-free operation of a touchless trash can is not only more hygienic, it’s also more convenient, too.

Choosing the right touchless trash can is key. You have to decide what material, size, power source, and extra features will work best in your home.

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The concentration of germs or airborne bacteria in a trash can reach up to 1,000 per cubic meter, so it’s best to keep your hands as far away from the trash as possible.

Do you need a touchless trash can?

A touchless trash can’s lid opens by itself. Most models feature a motion sensor. If you wave your hand or garbage in front of the trash can, the lid pops open automatically. Some low-tech touchless trash cans have a foot pedal. When you press the pedal, the lid opens.

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of touchless trash cans.

  • Hygienic: Because you don’t have to touch the trash can to throw away your garbage, you’re not exposed to germs, bacteria, and viruses that might be present in the garbage.

  • Time-saving: Since you don’t come into contact with the trash, you won’t have to stop in the middle of cooking to wash your hands after you throw something away.

  • Ergonomic: You don’t have to bend or crouch to open a touchless trash can, so the design is much kinder on your back and knees.

  • Space-saving: Many touchless trash cans have a streamlined design that takes up less space in your kitchen or bathroom than traditional trash cans.

  • Wider opening: Touchless trash cans often have wider openings than other garbage cans, so you can easily toss out large items.

  • Security: You can lock a touchless trash can, so your pets can’t get into the garbage and make a mess.

What to consider


Touchless trash cans are typically made of either metal or plastic.

  • Metal: Metal touchless trash cans are the most common. They are a popular choice because they’re extremely durable and don’t retain odors as easily as plastic. They offer a sleek look, too. While stainless steel is the most common finish, you can also find metal touchless trash cans with brushed nickel, gold, rose gold, bronze, and even colored finishes.

  • Plastic: Plastic touchless trash cans aren’t as durable as metal options, and they are more likely to retain odors and stains. They’re usually less expensive, though, and they are available in a variety of colors, including neutrals like black, white, and gray.

"If you choose a stainless steel touchless trash can, opt for one with an anti-fingerprint finish to keep it smudge-free."


Touchless trash cans range in size from small two-and-a-half-gallon models to extra-large, 30-gallon options. The standard size for a kitchen trash can is 13 gallons, so that’s a good option if you’re not sure what size to choose.

However, if you want a touchless trash can to place inside a cabinet, opt for a smaller model that holds four to seven gallons. On the other hand, if you have a large household that generates a lot of trash, a 15- to 20-gallon touchless trash can is a better option.


Touchless trash cans are available in square, rectangular, oval, and round shapes. If you plan to use the trash can in a smaller space, a square or rectangular style is the best option because you can easily tuck the can in a corner. Round or oval touchless trash cans require more space, so they’re a better choice for larger kitchens and bathrooms.  

"For the most space-saving touchless trash can, opt for a square or rectangular shape. "

Ease of use

The easiest touchless trash cans to operate are those equipped with infrared motion sensors. You only have to wave your hand or the item you’re throwing away in front of the sensor, and the lid automatically opens and closes.

A touchless trash can with a foot pedal requires you to step on the pedal to open and close the lid. These models are not difficult to use, but elderly people or those with disabilities or injuries may have an easier time with a touchless trash can that has a motion sensor.

Motion sensor

It’s important to know what features to look for in a touchless trash can’s motion sensor.

  • Upward-facing: Keep the touchless trash can from accidentally opening by choosing a model with an upward-facing motion sensor. It’s less likely to detect people or pets walking past, so the lid won’t open when you don’t want it to.

  • Waterproof: Choose a touchless trash can with a waterproof motion sensor. It’s common for liquids to spill inside a garbage can, so you want a sensor that won’t stop working if it gets wet.

  • Distance: For the most convenient touchless control, select a trash can with a sensor that detects motion from as great a distance as possible. Opt for a model that can sense motion from as far away as 10 inches.

"To make touchless trash cans even more hygienic, some models feature an antimicrobial coating on their exteriors."


Touchless trash cans with a motion sensor require a power source. Most models are battery-operated, so you don’t have to worry about placing the trash can near an outlet.

However, some touchless trash cans also come with a power adaptor, which allows you to choose between battery and outlet operation. The power adaptor can come in handy if the trash can’s batteries die, and you don’t want to run out immediately to get a fresh set.

Touchless trash cans with a foot pedal don’t require any power source for operation.

"The type of batteries required by touchless trash cans vary from model to model, but the majority use C or D batteries."


Some touchless trash cans are equipped with a carbon filter that absorbs odors, so your garbage doesn’t smell. It’s a feature that you’ll pay extra for, but it’s worth it if you’re concerned about odors. Keep in mind that you’ll need to replace the filter in your touchless trash can periodically, which adds to the expense of the trash can.


If you choose a touchless trash can with a motion sensor, it’s best to choose a model you can lock if you have pets or small children in the house. In most cases, the locking mechanism is simply an on/off switch for the motion sensor. When the motion sensor is turned off, the lid won’t open, so garbage won’t spill all over the floor if your pet or child knocks it over.

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Did you know?
The most common illness-causing bacteria and germs found in trash cans are salmonellae, E. coli, listeria, and the common cold virus.

How much do touchless trash cans cost?

Touchless trash cans vary in price based on material, size, and other features, but you can typically expect to spend between $30 and $200.

  • Inexpensive: For a simple plastic or metal touchless trash can, you’ll usually pay between $30 and $50.

  • Mid-range: For a small metal touchless trash can with special features, you’ll usually pay between $55 and $100.

  • Expensive: For a large metal touchless trash can with a variety of special features, you’ll usually pay between $100 and $200.

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Expert Tip
While touchless trash cans are usually used in kitchens or bathrooms, they are also a good idea for offices, where many people share a trash can.

Tips and tricks for using touchless trash cans

  • Always keep the motion sensor on a touchless trash can clean and dry. The trash can may not open properly if moisture or debris blocks the sensor.

  • Keep the touchless trash can’s motion sensor out of direct sunlight, which can keep the sensor from working properly.

  • Place a touchless trash can in a spot where the lid isn’t blocked from opening or closing. That means you may not be able to set it beneath a countertop depending on the size of the trash can.

  • Be careful not to overfill a garbage bag in a touchless trash can. Because a garbage bag fits inside a touchless trash can so snugly, it can easily tear when you pull it out. You may also have trouble removing an overfull bag.

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Touchless trash cans typically have an inner lip that holds the garbage bag in place, so you don’t have to worry about it slipping down into the can.


Q. Can I use regular garbage bags in a touchless trash can?
Most touchless trash cans are compatible with standard garbage bags in the appropriate size. However, some models are smaller than traditional trash cans, so regular garbage bags won’t fit exactly right. Some touchless trash can manufacturers sell custom bags to ensure that the fit is exact.

Q. What features should I look for in a touchless trash can if I own pets?
While touchless trash cans are often effective at keeping pets out of the garbage, a large dog or other pet may be able to activate the motion sensor. To prevent your pet from getting into the trash, look for a touchless trash can that locks, so you can secure it when you’re not around to keep an eye on your furry friend.

Q. How long do the batteries last in a touchless trash can?
The lifespan of the batteries in a touchless trash can depends on the type of batteries and how often the can is opened and closed. In general, the batteries should last about six months. Some touchless trash cans also come with a power adaptor, which allows you to plug the trash can into an outlet to power it.

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