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Buying guide for Best stainless steel trash cans

Trash. It’s not a particularly pleasant topic of conversation, but we all produce it, and we need a receptacle to hold it. Stainless steel trash cans are sturdy and long-lasting, plus they look great. But, how do you find the right one?

There are hundreds of models available, so which are the best stainless steel trash cans out there? You've come to the right place to find out!

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Stainless steel trash cans with airtight lids keep flies out and odors in.

Why stainless steel?

First off, let's explore why you might choose a stainless steel trash can over other materials available, such as plastic or aluminum.

  • Stainless steel trash cans are more hygienic than plastic. They're easy to clean and aren't as porous as plastic, so they're not as much of a breeding ground for bacteria (assuming you clean them regularly).

  • Stainless steel is less prone to corrosion than aluminum. Although it is possible for poor-quality stainless steel to rust, the majority of stainless steel trash cans contain enough chromium that they provide a rust-resistant outer layer. Aluminum is much more likely to corrode.

  • Stainless steel trash cans are hard wearing. You can expect a stainless steel trash can to last for many years. It won't crack and shouldn't dent easily.

  • Stainless steel looks attractive. Trash cans are never going to be the height of style, but stainless steel cans do have a sleek, smart appearance that generally looks better than other options on the market.

Types of stainless steel trash cans

There’s a wide range of types of stainless steel trash cans, and these are some of the most popular:

Step

Stainless steel step trash cans have a pedal at the base that you step on to open the lid. Because you don't need to touch the lid, they tend to be more hygienic – this is particularly useful when preparing food in kitchens. On the downside, the step mechanism can fail over time.

Recycling

These are bins with two compartments in one, so you can use one compartment for trash and the other for recycling. This negates the need for two separate bins and can make your kitchen look neater. However, if you produce a large volume of waste for recycling, you might find the recycling compartment filling up quickly.

Automatic

Automatic or touchless stainless steel trash cans feature a motion sensor so they "know" when your hand approaches the bin and the lid opens by itself. Like step trash cans, they're hygienic, since you don't need to touch them. They can, however, cost significantly more money than less high-tech options, plus they require either battery power or access to a power outlet.

Push top

With push-top trash cans, you press down on the lid in a certain place, which releases a catch and lets the lid swing upward. These trash cans tend to be inexpensive, plus the lid stays open until you push it back down again, which is handy for when you need to go back and forth to your trash can to put various items inside. On the negative side, you must make physical contact with the lid when you want to open the bin, so you should wash your hands afterward.

Expert Tip
For those who recycle, a dual-compartment trash can will help maximize the space in your home.
Tia Daniel
BestReviews Cleaning Expert

Considerations

Capacity

Find a trash can with the right capacity for your household. It should be large enough that you don't need to empty it so often that it becomes inconvenient. On the other hand, it shouldn't be so large that you could go for weeks without emptying it, because that might lead to a stinky situation. The average kitchen trash can is around 13 gallons, which should suffice for the majority of households. However, if you live alone, you may want a slightly smaller option or if you have an extra-large family, a slightly bigger garbage can may be more convenient.

Shape

The majority of stainless steel trash cans are either circular or rectangular. However, you can also find square, oval, and half-round options. Square and rectangular trash cans fit flush up against walls and work well in corners. However, the bin’s inside corners tend to be slightly harder to clean. You don't have the corner issue with round and oval cans, but they don't sit flush with walls and the capacity is slightly less than a four-sided can with the same height and width. Half-round cans are great for people who like the look of round cans but want an option that will fit right up against the wall.

Removable buckets

With some stainless steel trash cans, the garbage bag liner fits straight into the main body of the can. However, you can also find trash cans with removable buckets that you can fit your garbage bag into or even use without a garbage bag. Some people find removable buckets highly convenient whereas others find them more awkward to use.

Expert TIp
Fingerprint-proof trash cans are perfect for homes with children.
Tia Daniel
BestReview Fitness Expert

Fingerprint coating

One of the drawbacks of stainless steel trash cans is that they can pick up smudges and fingerprints quite easily. This leaves you either constantly wiping the exterior of your bin to remove fingerprints or simply learning to live with them. Some higher-end models have a special coating that resists smudging. Alternatively, a light coating of car wax can help keep fingerprints from accumulating on your stainless steel trash can.

Stainless steel trash can prices

Stainless steel trash bins can vary in price widely, depending on the type of can, the capacity, and the overall quality.

Inexpensive

At the lower end of the price spectrum, you'll find push-lid trash cans and some basic pedal cans. Expect to pay between $30 and $60.

Mid-range

In the mid-range, you'll start to find more options, including trash cans with recycling compartments and automatic cans. These cost roughly $60 to $100.

Expensive

At the top end of the price range, you'll find all kinds of trash cans of the best quality. These are usually priced between $100 and $200.

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Expert TIp
Mose stainless steel trash cans can be cleaned and shined with a stainless steel appliance cleaner.
Tia Daniel
BestReviews Cleaning Expert

Tips

  • Consider a stainless steel trash bin that you can use hands-free. They're more convenient and hygienic.

  • Think about where you'll be using your can. The majority of stainless steel trash cans are meant for use in the kitchen, but you can find smaller options for bathrooms and home offices.

  • Choose a stainless steel trash can that's easy to clean. It should be a breeze to wipe down without too many nooks and crannies where grime can collect.

  • Check the overall dimensions of your chosen stainless steel trash can. You don't want to purchase a trash can only to find it won't fit in the space you intend to put it.
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Some stainless steel trash cans have plastic parts, such as lids, rims, or internal buckets.

FAQ

Q. Are stainless steel trash cans suitable for outdoor use?

A. No, stainless steel trash cans are generally designed for indoor use, usually in the kitchen, but you can find smaller models designed for bathrooms, offices, or bedrooms.

Q. What's the difference between standard stainless steel and brushed stainless steel?

A. Standard stainless steel is usually shiny while brushed stainless steel has a matte finish.

Q. How can I prevent my stainless steel trash can from smelling bad?

A. If you're having trouble with a smelly trash can, the best solution is to empty it regularly and clean the inside at least once every couple of weeks. Also, consider what you’re putting in the can: Highly perishable items such as meat scraps and wrappers will begin to smell at a much quicker pace than the rest of the trash, so if it’s convenient, you might want to place those items directly into your curbside trash cans or dumpster. You can also buy stainless steel trash cans with special filters in the lid to help neutralize odors. Tightly fitting lids also help stop smells from escaping.

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