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The Best Stainless Steel Trash Cans

🕚 Updated May 2022

Every home needs a few trash cans for household waste, and a stainless steel trash can is among the best types you can buy. If you want to upgrade to a stainless steel trash can or two for your living space, here are some we recommend.

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  Best Overall Best Open Top Best Round Best Automatic Best Double Can
  Amazon Basics
Stainless Steel Trash Can with Foot Pedal
Open Top Stainless Steel Trash Can
Round Step Stainless Steel Trash Can
SensorCan Stainless Steel Trash Can
Dual Trash Can
Our SummaryIt doesn't get much more classic than this step-pedaled stainless steel trash can.If you want a lidless trash can for paper or recycling, this neat stainless steel model will be right up your alley.This step-open trash can brings all the benefits of a stainless steel model in a more unique, rounded shape.Incredibly modern, this premium, automatic stainless steel trash can has lots of upgraded features to keep it clean and odor-free.You essentially get two trash cans in one with this model, perfect for high-traffic offices or combining garbage and recycling in one spot.
Pros✓ Several size options
✓ Removable inner bin
✓ Soft-close lid
✓ Smudge-resistant
✓ Foot pedal with stay-open mode
✓ Shaped to fit against wall
✓ Fingerprint- and smudge-resistant
✓ Removable ring liner
✓ Fits standard trash bags
✓ Hands-free, durable pedal
✓ Silent lid
✓ Print-proof coating
✓ Narrow build
✓ Paired option
✓ Excellent variety
✓ Odor filtration system
✓ Motion sensor
✓ Two power source options
✓ Fingerprint-proof
✓ Two-in-one
✓ Extra-large capacity
✓ Airtight
✓ Several color options
✓ Plastic liners with handles
✓ Custom bags included
Cons✗ Lid may not open and close fully✗ Doesn't contain smell as well
✗ No alternate sizes
✗ Limited sizing
✗ May not fit standard trash bags
✗ Requires replacement air filters
✗ Pricier
✗ Very expensive
✗ Bulky
✗ One size only
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The Best Stainless Steel Trash Cans

Three different stainless steel trash cans in kitchens.

Buying Guide for Stainless Steel Trash Cans

A stainless steel trash can on a wooden floor.

Why buy a stainless steel trash can?

Trash cans are a household and office necessity, and a stainless steel model is arguably the best choice for a trash can. Stainless steel is known for its durability and its natural resistance to rusting and corrosion— a handy feature in any trash can, especially those in moist areas like bathrooms and kitchens or for outdoor use. This also makes stainless steel trash cans easy to clean: you can spray them down, rinse them out, or wipe them with a damp rag without worrying about rust or corrosion. Beyond this considerable advantage, stainless steel is not only very durable, long-lasting, and low maintenance, but it’s resistant to dirt and smells. Thus odors caused by trash are much less likely to leak out of a stainless steel trash can and cause your home or office to smell like garbage.

And on top of all these practical considerations, stainless steel trash cans are much sleeker and more modern-looking than almost any other material. On the whole, they’re much more aesthetically pleasing—not a strict requirement for trash cans but a welcome bonus nonetheless.

What should you look for in stainless steel trash cans?

  • Size and Capacity: Consider where you plan to place your stainless steel trash can and how much space is available in that area. If you want a desktop or under-desk garbage can for your personal use, a small, compact model should do the trick. If you’re buying one for the entire office or your kitchen, you’ll want something much larger, probably with a capacity of at least 10 to 16 gallons; a standard-sized trash bag usually has a capacity of around 13 gallons or so.
  • Functionality: There are a surprising number of useful features to look for. Many models have foot pedals to pop open the trash can’s lid without touching it, helping to prevent the spread of germs. Touchless automatic trash cans provide this same benefit, with even less fuss and a greater ability to keep kids and pets from getting into the garbage. There are double trash cans, so you can use one container for garbage and the other for recycling. Some come equipped with an interior plastic bucket or lining as an extra shield against stains and smells. They can be airtight or even have built-in odor control systems. You can even find stainless steel trash cans that have been treated or coated to prevent fingerprints and smudges to maintain their sleek look.
  • Lidded vs. Lidless: Lidded trash cans are more popular since the lid works to contain odors and unpleasant sights. Lids also help keep pets, kids, and pests out of the garbage. That said, there are some cases where a lidless stainless steel trash can may be the better choice. They provide quicker access since you can just toss your garbage or recycling directly into the wastebasket, and they’re easier to empty. If you plan to only use your stainless steel trash can for throwing away or recycling paper, a lid may not be necessary.

Are stainless steel trash cans better than plastic ones?

Stainless steel trash cans are the superior choice to plastic models in just about every way possible. They’re more hygienic since stainless steel is easier to clean and naturally more dirt-resistant. Stainless steel is more durable than plastic. It won’t wear down as quickly or start to disintegrate, nor will it crack or break if overloaded. Perhaps most importantly, stainless steel doesn’t absorb and hold smells the way that plastic does. Over time, plastic garbage cans will inevitably start to smell like the trash inside them. This isn’t an issue with stainless steel trash cans.

That said, plastic trash cans do offer a wider range of color options, are more lightweight, and will be less expensive than stainless steel ones. Still, many people find that the durability and odor-containing properties of stainless steel trash cans make them well worth the extra money.

Our Picks for the Best Stainless Steel Trash Cans

Best Overall

Amazon Basics Stainless Steel Trash Can with Foot Pedal

It doesn't get much more classic than this step-pedaled stainless steel trash can.

Pros: This stainless steel trash can comes in four sizes to choose from to better suit different needs and environments. No matter which size you pick, this trash can comes with a removable inner bin for easier emptying and a step-on foot pedal to flip the lid open and closed without getting your hands dirty or germy. The lid itself is designed to open and close softly, so it doesn’t make much noise or bang against the wall. There’s also a stay-open mode, so you can keep the lid propped open for as long as you want without having to constantly open and close it.

Cons: As is sometimes the case with trash cans that open and close via foot pedals, you may have some issues with the lid staying fully open or fully closed at times. Some crumbs or debris might sneak in between the crack of the lining and the trash can itself.

Bottom Line: This is a high-quality, highly-rated stainless steel trash can. If you want a smaller model for your bathroom, dorm room, or desk at work, there’s a compact size, and the larger capacity versions are equally great for higher volume use.


Best Open Top

NINESTARS Open Top Stainless Steel Trash Can

If you want a lidless trash can for paper or recycling, this neat stainless steel model will be right up your alley.

Pros: If you’re in the market for a stainless steel trash can without a lid, you can’t go wrong with this model. The half-circle shape offers the perfect blend of a wide mouth with a flat back that’s easy to place flush against a wall. The lidless aspect makes it easier to empty, and the removable ring liner holds the trash bags firmly in place. While custom brand trash bags are available for purchase, this trash can will fit standard trash bags. The stainless steel body is top-notch and resistant to fingerprints and smudges.

Cons: While the lack of a lid makes this trash can easier to fill and empty, it reduces the smell-containing properties. And there aren’t any alternate size options to choose from.

Bottom Line: This is a classic, reliable stainless steel trash can. It’s a great buy for those who prefer the easier access of a lidless garbage can, and it’s good value for its size.


Best Round

simplehuman Stainless Steel Round Step Trash Can

This step-open trash can brings all the benefits of a stainless steel model in a compact, round shape.

Pros: A round version of a classic step trash can, You won’t have to touch the lid of this trash can to open it, especially since the foot pedal is incredibly durable. The lid is controlled by dampers to ensure it doesn’t slam against the wall or make a loud clatter when opening and closing. The stainless steel body is coated with an anti-fingerprint coating to prevent smudges, and its slender build makes it easier to fit in narrow spaces.

Cons: This trash can is only available in two different size options, and they’re very close in capacity (8 gallons and 9 gallons), so you don’t have a lot of variety there. It’s also designed to fit with custom brand trash bags, so standard garbage bags you buy at the store may have trouble staying secure.

Bottom Line: While rectangular or square trash cans are more or less considered the standard, they’re not the only option. This round stainless steel model will work just as well while providing a unique, streamlined look—and it’ll fit better in tighter spaces to boot.


Best Automatic

iTouchless SensorCan Stainless Steel Trash Can

Incredibly modern, this premium, automatic stainless steel trash can has lots of upgraded features to keep it clean and odor-free.

Pros: You may not think of trash cans as a particularly high-tech piece of equipment, but this stainless steel model has some surprisingly modern, smart home-esque features. It’s automatic with a motion sensor; to open it, simply wave your hand above the lid for a touchless experience. This keeps your hands germ-free and helps keep pets from getting into the garbage. You can power it with batteries (not included) or an electric power adapter. The stainless steel material alone is already an excellent odor-blocker, and this trash can takes it one step further with the built-in air filtration system. The stainless steel is treated to be fingerprint-proof, and you can buy it with wheels, in several different shapes and sizes, with a center-opening rather than a hinged lid, and more.

Cons: As is common with more advanced, premium products, this stainless steel trash can is more expensive than most. You will have to buy replacement air filters for the odor filtration system to function properly. It requires a power source to operate.

Bottom Line: Thanks to modern, ever-upgrading technology, household appliances are more advanced than ever before. This automatic stainless steel trash can will fit right in smart homes with other high-tech furnishings or give your old kitchen a modern upgrade.


Best Double Can

SONGMICS Dual Trash Can

You essentially get two trash cans in one with this dual model, perfect for high-traffic offices or combining garbage and recycling in one spot.

Pros: Contain smells from your recycling bin as well as your trash can with this double stainless steel model that comes with two 16-gallon trash cans. Rather than needing separate bins for trash and recycling, you get a two-in-one container. Alternatively, if you want to separate different types of waste (food scraps and synthetic materials) or different recycling materials (like cardboard and plastic), this dual trash can allows you to do so with ease. Both containers feature a foot pedal for hands-free lid opening, are airtight to further prevent smells from leaking out to pollute your living space, and have plastic interior liners with metal handles for easier lifting and emptying. This trash can comes with a sleeve of custom-fitting trash bags and is available in several colors.

Cons: Since you essentially get two big trash cans in one, it’s unsurprising that this model is expensive. The dual containers also mean that it’s quite bulky, with no other sizes available.

Bottom Line: Many of us keep our recycling bins right beside our trash cans anyway, so why not invest in a trash can that comes with one already built-in? As long as you have the space and money to spare, this dual stainless steel trash can will be a boon to almost any living space.

Final Thoughts

Even the smallest dorm room or studio apartment will need at least one trash can for disposing of garbage and debris, and even the most simple stainless steel trash can is among the best options available for keeping your trash and its smells contained.

Meghan Herlihy Meghan Herlihy
Meghan Herlihy is a full-time writer for LifeSavvy and How-To Geek and has written across a wide variety of topics, genres, and formats, including radio talk shows, local sports journalism, and creative original fiction. She received her bachelor's degree in communications from Ithaca College and a master's in writing from Johns Hopkins University. When she's not writing, you're most likely to find her reading a book, petting every dog within eyesight, and indulging in her love of travel. Read Full Bio »
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