simple human 30 liter round stainless steel trash can

My Perfect Kitchen Trash Can and Cheap Trash Bags, Too!

I know “hate” is a strong word, but that’s how I feel about trash. Can’t stand it. But my loathing for trash is nothing compared to Lauren Singer, who has been trash-free for nearly a decade. It’s hard to imagine such a thing, but after hearing her story, she’s got my attention.

The entire amount of trash Lauren has produced in 24 months fits into a pint-size Mason jar.

on pint-size jar of trash

I can’t say I’m anywhere close to Lauren when it comes to trash. I’m in that stage where I need a proper trash receptacle strategically located by my desk and in every other room of the house and garage as well.

The most important receptacle is in the kitchen. It needs to be substantial in size, handy by location, as attractive as possible, impeccably clean, and covered.

I have tested, tried, and or reviewed every kind of trash receptacle in my search for the most perfect product out there.

I have come to the well-educated opinion that stainless steel trash cans by Simple Human are the very best. I have the 30-litre/8 gallon round step can model in my kitchen.

simple human 30 liter round stainless steel trash can

This beauty fits in a corner, against a wall—just about anywhere. It has a removable rigid liner for easy cleaning. The steel pedal is sturdy and the lid gives a smooth, silent, soft close every time. It does not show fingerprints—also a big deal for me. And it comes with a 20-year warranty.

As much as I love this can, it comes with a problem: expensive trash bag refills. The folks at Simple Human insist that I need to use the bags designed especially for this can, which run about $.32 per bag.

You know me—I’m always looking for a cheaper alternative and that’s what I did for my lovely stainless steel trash can. I decided to use Kirkland Drawstring Kitchen Bags instead of the Simple Human brand. I get these at Costco ($.08 per bag), but Kirkland brand products are also available online (fifteen cents per bag) without a Costco membership.

Bag and

This is a cheaper alternative for sure but as I learned quickly, not so attractive.

Bag and Kitchen

Suddenly, I realized why Simple Human had to make special bags for this receptacle and why the rigid liner in a Simple Human trash can has a hole at the back near the top. Bingo! That’s the secret.

A pot that is sitting on a wooden table


Let me explain how to use that hole to make an alternative bag work perfectly:

1. Find the seams

Notice that a Kirkland bag has seams on two sides with the drawstrings in the middle front and back.

A person sitting on a sofa

Bag and Kitchen

2. Tie a knot

Grab the top of one of the seams and tie a knot.

A piece of paper Bag and Kitchen

Bag and Hand

3. Feed knot into hole

Place the bag in the rigid liner then feed the tail of the knot from the outside through that hole and pull it inside the can, including the knot itself.

Bag and Knot

Bag and Kitchen

Bag and Kitchen

4. Tight stretch

Stretch the top of the bag around the liner, which will now fit snuggly, and push the bulk of the bag into the liner.

Bag and Kitchen

5. Insert rigid liner

Place the liner back into the can.

Bag and Lid

6. Close the lid

Voila! A perfect fit that completely hides the trash bag with the lid closed and leaves the drawstrings intact for easy removal and tying closed when the can is full.

Image and Bag

I am a bit jealous knowing that Lauren Singer does not spend money on trash cans. She doesn’t waste money on trash bags either.

Lauren’s example has given me a renewed desire to cut down on trash in every way possible.

In the meantime, after more than 5 years, I still could not be happier with my Simple Human can and super cheap trash bags.

First published: 4-21-15; Revised & Updated 10-15-20



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  1. Ann Marie says:

    I’m so glad you didn’t add to the overwhelming number of emails I received from various other companies touting their favorite Prime Day deals (no doubt receiving a piece of every sale made through their link). I could not delete these emails fast enough. I did purchase a few small items I had been eying but didn’t spend more than $50.
    As far as garbage, I had a can that looks like yours in my main upstairs kitchen until I renovated it 12 years ago. The can is now in my basement kitchen, which we hardly use anymore but it is near the laundry so it fills up with dryer lint and crafting discards. When I renovated the upstairs kitchen, I decided to use one lower cabinet for a pull out garbage/recycle center. Two large 13 gallon bins suspend from a piece of wood with holes cut out. It is easy to keep clean and any odors are contained. I would have liked it next to my sink but the area is small so we placed it directly across from the sink and dishwasher in the peninsula. Now there are is no unsightly can taking up a corner and we don’t have to deal with tying knots in bags or having to keep the exterior clean. The kitchen is small enough that I can turn from my prep area next to the sink and dump whatever garbage or recycling material without having to take extra steps. I highly suggest it for anyone renovating their kitchen or able to give up one small cabinet in their current kitchen and adding a retrofit device, most likely available on Amazon!

  2. Suzie says:

    Glad to hear you HEARD yourself going nuts over shopping. It’s weird how we can get into that mindset so quickly.
    I use a small wicker trash basket, lined it with a paper bag so the wicker would’nt poke thru the plastic liners I buy from the $ store (22 @$1),or all the free ones that darn near everything is packaged in.

  3. Nancy says:

    I’m so glad I did not get caught up in the Prime Day shopping hype. I did not buy a thing, and I am so happy to not buy stuff I don’t need, as well as having to pay the bills. The deal emails were overwhelming and I didn’t see any great deals.
    All I really need is Lysol/Clorox wipes! So hard to come by!

  4. Bonnie says:

    I have a kitchen trash can I like, except for the fact that when the bag is fairly full, it slips down from the rim, even though it has a slot in the back to hold the bag. I put binder clips on both sides of the can to hold the bag, and it works perfectly. The clips are easily removed when it’s time to change the bag.

  5. Sarah says:

    Mary, at your suggestion, one or two years ago, I bought the Simple Human garbage can, and I don’t know how I lived without it before. I use the Kirkland bags, and they work perfectly. I want to thank you for the suggestion! Now I have a question for you. How do you clean the inside of the can? I’ve thought about hosing it out, but I live near the ocean, and metal things rust easily. Underneath the can lid is getting kind of ugly. I’d love to know how you clean yours. Thanks, Mary!

    • Ann Marie says:

      If you bring it outside for a good scrubbing, then leave it to dry for a short period of time or dry it off with a towel and bring inside, it shouldn’t rust so quickly.

  6. Kim Rubin says:

    I also have a simplehuman stainless steel step-on trash can. I just recently bought mine, so have a different model. We recently moved to a new home; I went from a tiny kitchen where I used a small, open, slide-out under sink trash can from Ikea, (which wasted about half of each liner, but it was the only place I had that could accommodate a can) to a very large kitchen, and I wanted a larger can with a lid. After much research, I chose the simplehuman semi-round stainless step-on. I looked at battery operated automatic types, but those all seemed to have the same complaints; they needed constant battery replacements, and most seemed to not work very well. I didn’t want a can that opened every time I walked by it, either. The bags that came with the can were nice, but when I looked into ordering more, I was shocked at the price! They are thicker and fit the can well, but so not worth the price. Instead, I continued to buy my regular bags from Sam’s Club, and also found that knotting the bag makes the Sam’s bags a perfect fit with no slippage or unsightly overlap. But, I knot the drawstring instead of the bag; it works perfectly on my can. I don’t have a separate rigid liner-mine is a different model, but I find I really don’t need one as the two-step lid they have works well. I have several SH brand items in my kitchen and all are well-made and last a long time. The SH countertop tension arm paper towel holder is amazing! It never tips and needs only one hand to tear off towels.

  7. Linda says:

    I tried a similar trash can (step-on) but my German Shepherd soon learned that she could still lift the lid with her nose, no stepping involved. If you can raise the lid by hand then it’s not foolproof.

  8. Robin says:

    I too, found Prime day overwhelming. I quickly realized that I needed to check on the few things I wanted – like a basketball hoop for my grandson for Christmas. I did buy a couple Christmas gifts as they are always a challange, but it’s just too hard to shop Prime day and it’s never organized well.
    As for trash, I have never had much. I recycle everything possible. Compost what I can and have never had more than two bags a week for my family of up to 6 people (unless someone deep cleans). I donate any usable items and I cook from scratch so that limits much of my trash.

  9. Alice Pittman says:

    I own and love this trashcan, but – I had it for a YEAR before I realized what that hole in the rigid liner was for:)

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