Essential Tools

The Garbage Can That Unexpectedly Stole My Heart

August 20, 2018

When I was in college, I had a stint as an intern at a magazine’s lifestyle department. I worked directly under the home & market editor, and scored a ton of amazing home products that were called in as samples, or had been sent to us for product testing. From casserole dishes to area rugs, my less-than-luxurious apartment got a major upgrade. But one of the best items I nabbed was this simplehuman trash can—before seeing this guy, I had no idea that a trash receptacle could be so chic.

Feast your eyes!

This step-can was a perfect fit in my apartment, which was furnished with mostly white furniture and metallic accent pieces (plus, I’m a sucker for rose gold). The back is nearly flat, so it nestles nicely against any wall―crucial, since space has been an issue in every apartment I’ve lived in. If you’re not a fan of rose gold or want something less pink, simplehuman makes this in a few more subdued colors, including white, grey, and black. They all have silver metallic trim, so your trash area still gets a little bit of style without being too flashy.

My simplehuman step-can replaced the $10 plastic bin I’d purchased out of desperation the day I moved into my apartment (shockingly enough, a trash can wasn’t on my decor wishlist), and it made an immediate difference in our kitchen. My pre-existing bin had a swinging lid, so gooey stuff was forever getting stuck to it. Or worse, I’d try to toss scraps into the garbage can and they would just hit the swinging door and fall on the floor. Sigh. The quality was noticeably low (you really do get what you pay for), and the liners never stayed in place. I had to clean it pretty much every time I made a meal with more than two ingredients, so at least twice a day.

You can liken simplehuman trash cans as the Ferraris of garbage bin world, in terms of performance and sticker price. The current model of my garbage can retails for around $80, which may seem like a lot of cash for a plastic bucket to hold your trash, but after my experience with the less-than-stellar inexpensive can, I'd happily pay it (also: It's so pretty!). Simplehuman makes even pricier models, so this particular one is on the affordable end of the brand's offerings.

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When it comes to performance, this garbage can isn’t just a pretty face. It’s an example of thoughtful, functional design. My favorite feature is the built-in pocket where you keep the liners, which you can only see if the can is open: simplehuman sells refill packs that dispense one at a time, and there’s a special slot in the actual trash can where you can slip the pack in. The brand's liners are a little pricier than the store-brand trash bags I’d previously been buying, so once I ran out of the pack that came with my can, I switched back to regular liners. It’s super easy to find 12-gallon trash can liners or tall kitchen bags, and they do a fine job.

I also love the special silent close lid, especially as someone prone to slamming things (I’m not usually mad, just in a hurry!). The patented “lid shox” technology ensures a slow, silent close; I love not having to worry about food spattering or forgetting to put the lid on the garbage can. Best of all, since the whole thing is plastic and stainless steel, it’s super easy to clean. I usually just wipe it down with a sponge, a Clorox wipe, or a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser during my weekly kitchen scrubdown.

In my research, I learned that simplehuman products are built to last, which might explain why this trash can lasted through college and every apartment I’ve lived in since. The pedal on this trash can is wider than your average step-can, so it’s easy to pop open from any awkward angle; and it's also engineered to endure 150,000 steps, which is more than 20 steps a day for 20 years. I don’t think I use it all that much, so hopefully it will last even longer than that.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“Love the Tubelor cans with hide-a-bag design and cool colors. not for kitchen but great in lots of other places. theres a mini size too.”
— lks

I’m glad this garbage can fell into my lap—and I’m even happier that it doesn’t sacrifice form for functionality. It seems so simple (pun intended) but as someone who spends a lot of time in her kitchen, if I have to look at a garbage can everyday, shouldn't it at least be aesthetically pleasing? And regardless, couldn’t all of our kitchens use a little more shine?

Go Put That Can to Work

Do you have a favorite garbage can you'd shout your love for on the highest rooftops? Let us know below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • lks
  • Kim Petrosky
    Kim Petrosky
  • Sara Kozel
    Sara Kozel
  • Smaug
  • Nancy Metcalf
    Nancy Metcalf
Writer, eater, traveler.


lks September 7, 2018
Love the Tubelor cans with hide-a-bag design and cool colors. not for kitchen but great in lots of other places. theres a mini size too.
Kim P. August 27, 2018
IKEA has a size that fits rather nicely
Sara K. August 26, 2018
I'm using compostable garbage can liner bags and compost bin bags now. Feel much better about not using standard plastic any more.
Smaug August 20, 2018
Tall trash can liners are certainly easy to find, but small and medium sure aren't; I can only get Safeway brand in boxes of 20, and they're always running out. Meanwhile you can get whatever you want in tall; unfortunately, a medium will easily hold two weeks of kitchen trash for me. I suppose people feel they're getting more with "tall", and they are- more plastic to go into the landfill. I use a "can" that I made myself- it's been there 20 years and should easily be good for another 20.
RSmith August 21, 2018
What size is medium to you? I swear by the Costco 13 gal ones (which, admittedly, even though it's the main garbage can for my apartment, I don't fill - I often end up having to change it for smell reasons before I'd have to change it for capacity reasons) and I can see that Target sells the 8 gal in packs of 60. You really only need to find one place that sells them, and then buy in bulk, anyways.
RSmith August 21, 2018
Also, gently, maybe you're using more bags than you realize? A 20-pack would last almost a year if you changed it every other week, which doesn't quite square with "always running out."
Smaug August 21, 2018
Medium to me means it says "med." on the box- they are indeed 8 gallons. My Target didn't have them in any size box when I checked- I haven't seen them or the small size anywhere in boxes larger than 20, whereas the "tall" bags can be had in any size box, and all kinds of variety as far as strength, method of closure, "odor free" types, etc. It's the Safeway that always runs out, not me. I change them twice a week because there's only so long I'll keep garbage around the kitchen, though I rarely put anything in there that's going to rot.
Nancy M. August 20, 2018
My daughter and son-in-law have one of these. I used it a lot this summer when I stayed with them for 3 weeks after their baby was born. I would never have imagined that throwing trash in a can could be an esthetic and physical pleasure but that’s what it was.