With the best motion sensor trash can, you can wave mess away

The best motion sensor trash can for your home makes collecting garbage a smell- and spill-free experience.

While a trash can may seem like a banal part of your kitchen essentials, think about how many times a day you need to discard paper towels, food scraps, packaging, paper, and other pieces of garbage. With that kind of frequent use, you deserve something much better than ordinary. A touchless trash can sounds like a futuristic idea, but they are a contemporary way to eliminate germs and keep things clean around the house. An electric trash can is more convenient than foot-pedal models and suited for all levels of mobility. The best motion sensor trash can comes with special features like voice control and odor control, plus they can sleekly complement your other appliances. 

Get really into throwing things out with the best motion sensor trash can

A motion sensor trash can is one of those kitchen supplies that we can’t wait for you to experience. They are super convenient, safe, and germ-free, because you won’t have to worry about getting any gunk or goo on your hands from lifting the lid. A smart trash can is a choice that feels like luxury while being impressively practical. Most rely on advanced infrared technology to sense natural movements but remain closed when your dog or cat tries to grab a naughty snack. You can even get an automatic trash can that is voice-activated to offer you the most when it comes to easy use. The best motion sensor trash can will elevate the everyday, mundane task of throwing out your garbage. 

Related: How to reduce your garbage before it gets to the trash can

An electric upgrade means you can handle garbage without handling garbage cans 

Whether you’re living in a one-bedroom studio or you have a four-story home for you and your family, you need a garbage can that is able to consume more than one day’s worth of trash. While you don’t need to be harboring waste, you also don’t need to keep shoving your takeout containers and food wrappers down into the can by hand in a desperate, unhygienic attempt to stop the overflow. Trying to compress your trash doesn’t necessarily mean you’re throwing too much away (though we should all try to limit our garbage); it often just means your can is too small. 

The most popular size for any trash can is 13 gallons. If you have more space, we recommend sizing up to 17 or even 21 gallons. Just make sure you can lift the bag out of the can with ease when it’s time to take it out. If you are going to get a large receptacle, an electric trash can will only make throwing things out more accessible. Typically, each touchless trash can will need just a light wave of motion to pop open quietly. This is great for times when your hands are just a little too full to lift the lid. 

A motion sensor on a large trash can is also ideal for those who end up throwing away a lot of food scraps while cooking. Instead of using food-covered hands and dirtying the lid, which you then have to clean, you can easily toss the odds and ends from your latest dish without any additional mess. While a large trash bin can sometimes foster unpleasant smells, especially if it’s holding food scraps, you won’t have to worry because most motion sensor trash cans have extra-tight lids to hold in less than pleasant scents. If you’re not convinced, you can also find a touchless trash can that has additional room for a deodorizer.

Best large motion sensor trash can: EKO Mirage-T Motion Sensor Trash Can  

Beautifully Big Bin

A motion sensor trash can available in over nine sizes. Amazon

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As far as kitchen essentials go, you can feel confident about the EKO Mirage-T. This unit is available in a ton of sizes, starting with 12 gallons and going all the way up to 21 gallons; it’s truly one of the largest motion sensor trash cans on the market. It is designed with a fingerprint-resistant exterior, a removable liner ring, and a deodorizer compartment to keep things smelling fresh. 

Do you need an automatic trash can for a small space, like your bedroom or bathroom?

If you have the kitchen covered, start to look for a smaller automatic trash can to fit underneath your desk or beside the bathroom sink. Chances are you’re not shooting for a 13-gallon vertical can to stick next to your toilet, but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t benefit from the same mess-free perks that the best motion sensor trash can provides. Smaller trash cans that are lower to the ground can be hard to get to, even if there is a foot pedal at the base. A motion sensor makes things a little easier to dispose of and also keeps you from needing to get too close. 

Now, we don’t know about you, but we sometimes need a little extra encouragement to take out the bathroom or bedroom trash before it’s stuffed to the brim. You know it’s time to take out what’s in a motion sensor trash can when the lid won’t close, and battery life begins to wane. There won’t be room to negotiate when your trash can lets you know the garbage needs to go. 

Best motion sensor trash can for small spaces: Ninestar Automatic Touchless 3-Gallon Motion Sensor Trash 

Tiny, but Mighty

A compact, hands-free trash can with impressive battery life. Amazon

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This 3-gallon trash can is the perfect size for bedrooms and bathrooms alike. It was a precise, water-resistant motion sensor, removable ring liner, a sealed lid, and the ability to last for up to six months without changing any batteries. This touchless trash can has a non-skid base and is made from durable type 430 stainless steel.

Are you looking to eliminate odors and unpleasant smells?

No one enjoys the scent of garbage wafting through their home. It’s unpleasant and uncomfortable, especially if you have guests over. Not only is getting rid of smells good for people, but eliminating odor is always a great tactic for keeping pets and pests uninterested in the contents of your trash can. If you’ve already done everything you can to make your trash less smelly, we recommend an option that’s designed with deodorizing in mind. Fortunately, a motion sensor trash can, by design, is excellent at trapping terrible odors. Other hands-free, touchless trash can models will rely on a foot pedal to flip open the lid. This often results in a sudden drop when the lid closes and a whoosh of smelly air forcefully being exerted into the room. Motion-sensor trash can lids are typically timed and gently close, which helps keep any unfortunate odors contained to the can itself. 

If you’re looking for something a little more heavy-duty when it comes to scents, look for a touchless trash can designed to incorporate a filter. The best motion sensor trash cans will have a built-in space that can fit a deodorizer or carbon filter, which not only contains smells but captures and neutralizes them.

Best odor control trash can: iTouchless 13-Gallon SensorCan 

Trash In, Stink Out

Equipped with AbsorbX technology and an activated carbon odor filter, this model doesn’t stink. Amazon

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This iTouchless trash can is perfect for most homes. It’s completely hands-free with an additional compartment that holds an AbsorbX “Natural Activated Carbon Odor Filter” to stop stinky smells in their tracks; an excellent addition to your kitchen. Plus, this unit can be powered using an AC adaptor or batteries for ultimate flexibility. There is also a “Stay Open” mode for those times when you’re making frequent trips to throw something away, but rest assured even with the lid open, troublesome smells will be kept at bay.

Looking for hands-free recycling too?

Garbage and recycling may not end up in the same place, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use the same convenient, stress-free handling. If anything, juggling plastic cartons, bottles of wine, and cans of LaCroix is an even more daunting task. Getting a dual unit is a great way to keep things clean and orderly around the house while eliminating extra stress or mess. When it comes to creating a streamlined system, we believe in consolidation. The best kitchen trash can for eco-conscious households will have separate internal compartments, one for your trash and the other for recyclables, united under one lid to cut down on clutter and ultimately save space. 

Best dual-compartment motion sensor trash can: Ninestar Motion Sensor Trash Can/Recycler 

Single Lid, Double-Duty

This dual compartment, motion sensor trash can contains everything you need to dispose of. Amazon

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This Ninestar touchelss trash can has two depositories and one quiet-closing, touch-free lid that seals in odors. It is available in two sizes, 13 and 18 gallons, with a non-skid base, removable ring liner, and a long-lasting battery so you can conveniently place your can anywhere.  

Both hands frequently full? Go for a voice-activated electric trash can 

Maybe we really are living in the Year 3000, because not only can you purchase a motion sensor trash can, but you can also find a voice-activated model. Voice activation is a “handy” feature if your fingers are always full to the brim. We can’t tell you the number of times we’ve tried to save ourselves trips by carrying every empty bottle over to the trash in one go, only to put them all down again to open the lid. Whether you’re holding a ton of paper towels after a spill, hoping to avoid any drips or spills from precarious take-out bags, or you’ve just picked up the baby and need to toss a dirty diaper, voice activation can be the superhero you didn’t know you needed. While a voice-activated model can provide extra advantages to calm a hectic day, it can also assist those with chronic pain or limited mobility. 

Voice-activated models work by using embedded microphones especially attuned to the human voice (similar to at-home assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant), blocking any extraneous sounds like music or television. This microphone can recognize commands like “open can” and “close can,” and occasionally more. Though these touchless trash cans can be a bit pricey, we believe you’re getting your money’s worth when it comes to cleanliness and convenience.   

Best voice-activated trash can: Simplehuman Voice + Motion Sensor Trash Can  

“Smart” Can, Smart Investment

This easy-to-use all-in-one electric trash can has it all: voice activation and a motion sensor, plus more. simplehuman

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This 58-liter stainless steel trash can from Simplehuman is equipped with accurate voice recognition technology that deciphers commands at a whisper, even in a noisy environment. You can say open, close, or stay open for multitrip trash. This trash can also comes with a motion sensor and liner pocket, storing 20 liners inside the unit for easy replacements. 

Looking for the best motion sensor trash can for under $50?

A trash bin equipped with advanced technology can be invaluable, but many can also be pricey. Luckily, the best motion sensor trash can for a smaller household doesn’t need to break the bank; there are a handful of budget-friendly options that will definitely do the trick. While a smaller can (around 4 gallons) is almost always available under $50, a larger option can also fall within your budget if you monitor your favorite sites for deals. 

Best budget motion sensor trash can: Mainstay Motion Sensor Trash Can  

A Full Budget-Friendly Bin

A full-size motion sensor trash can at a great price. Amazon

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This 13-gallon motion sensor trash can that comes in four colors—red, silver, black, and white—to match your kitchen. It’s made from stainless steel and features infrared technology to assure it stays open while an object, or your hand, is in front of the sensor, and then it closes gently after five seconds. 

Best motion sensor trash can FAQ: people also ask

The most popular size for a kitchen trash can is 13 gallons. This size can fit nicely in small areas or corners without being too small. Thirteen gallons and above means you won’t be battling frequent overflow. If you find that this standard size is slightly too big, we suggest looking at a model between 7 to10 gallons instead. 

Are sensor trash cans worth it?

The short answer is yes, sensor trash cans are worth it. While the price bump can be prohibitive, we do believe that a motion sensor trash can has many benefits, convenience being only one. A hands-free trash can helps you keep away from bacteria and germs crawling around your garbage. They are also highly beneficial for those who experience issues or pain related to mobility. A hand- (and foot-) free model eliminates the need for physical strain on the joints.  

What can you do with old garbage cans?

If you’re ready to take the plunge and upgrade to one of the best motion sensor trash cans around, you’ll need to find something to do with your analog bin. While you can include this old garbage can with your other trash, there are a ton of different options when it comes to upcycling your old garbage can. Consider turning it into a planter, compost bin, or, if it’s large enough, think about using it as storage for gardening tools like rakes and shovels. 

Related: The truth about plastics recycling

The last word on the best motion sensor trash can

The best motion sensor trash can for you will fit your space and provide a hassle-free garbage toss. Don’t be surprised if you start trying to wave your hand over every trash can you see, only to experience disappointment at their basic functions but joy, when you remember that you have a smart trash, can waiting for you at home.

Carsen Joenk
Carsen Joenk

is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and a freelance writer focusing on health, music, and technology. She has been writing for Popular Science since early 2020, contributing product reviews and recommendations.