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Simplehuman Recycler and Small Step Can

The manufacturer of our favorite 13-gallon kitchen trash can makes two other models with the same step-pedal lid-opening mechanism and sleek design. How do they perform?

Published Apr. 8, 2020.

More on the Best Trash Cans
We also love the standard-size version of these trash cans. Our full review of kitchen trash cans with detailed brand comparisons is available here.
See Everything We Tested

What You Need To Know

It’s not the most glamorous tool in the kitchen, but a good trash can is certainly one of the busiest and most important. When we reviewed five models, the Simplehuman 50L Rectangular Step Can exceeded our expectations. It’s compatible with standard 13-gallon trash bags, and those bags stay firmly in place even when heavy items are dropped in or the bin is filled to its maximum capacity. Its wide, rectangular opening provides enough clearance whether you’re wiping off a large cutting board or dropping in an armful of trash. A few clever features, including a step-pedal mechanism that opens the lid and a removable, easy-to-clean liner, make taking out the trash less of a chore. Simplehuman also makes a dual-compartment model that houses both recycling and trash, as well as a petite, roughly 2½-gallon trash can meant for offices and bathrooms. We were curious to see how each performed. 

We started by evaluating the capacity and bag compatibility of both models. The dual-compartment model features two liners, which have a combined capacity of a little more than 12 gallons, that can be configured to hold trash and recyclable materials. These liners are taller and narrower than most trash cans, which means that we had to use Simplehuman’s somewhat pricey custom bags (Codes V and H) instead of regular trash bags. We considered this to be a bit of a nuisance, but the bags, which were easy to put in place and remove, were sturdy and stayed firmly in place during use. We found that the relatively small openings on the liners (the larger one is about 7½ by 8½ inches and the smaller one is about 4½ by 8½ inches) didn’t allow much leeway when depositing bulky items such as folded-up cardboard boxes and chicken carcasses. Most other kitchen items, however, didn’t pose a problem. We were able to drop in a handful of empty cans, empty a dust bin without dropping any of its contents, and wipe off a small cutting board without spilling. 

The smaller model we tested was more standard in size, so regular 4-gallon trash bags (often marketed as “small”) and disposable plastic shopping bags fit nearly as snugly as the company’s custom-designed bags (Code R). The bin’s opening was large enough to allow us to easily deposit items, but the unit’s overall footprint was impressively small. It tucked neatly into small spaces, such as between a toilet and a bathroom sink, with ease. 

In all other evaluations, the two models were nearly identical. Both employ the same step-pedal mechanism to open the lid as our favorite large Simplehuman model. Their lids close slowly and gently and can be propped open when needed. They also did an impr...

Everything We Tested

Good : 3 stars out of 3.Fair : 2 stars out of 3.Poor : 1 stars out of 3.
*All products reviewed by America’s Test Kitchen are independently chosen, researched, and reviewed by our editors. We buy products for testing at retail locations and do not accept unsolicited samples for testing. We list suggested sources for recommended products as a convenience to our readers but do not endorse specific retailers. When you choose to purchase our editorial recommendations from the links we provide, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices are subject to change.
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