The Best Trash Bags to Contain Kitchen Messes

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No one wants to clean up a mess left behind by a busted garbage bag. That's why we tested the seven most common brands to find the best trash bags.

Tkp Trash Bags 1200x800Taste of Home

Trash bags are one of those household essentials that you think you can pinch pennies on—until that budget bag busts after you stuff in that delivery pizza box. After a mistake like that, trash bag quality becomes a top concern. You don’t want to grab just any box of garbage bags at the store; you want the best trash bags to prevent any future messes (and smells).

The thing is, we know you don’t have the time to go through roll after roll of garbage bags to find a brand that won’t break or make you regret tossing all those onion peels in the bin. But our team of dedicated editors and kitchen pros do!

How We Found the Best Trash Bags

Our editors tested the most popular kitchen trash bags (that means tall, 13-gallon bags) in their own homes for months on end. That means dozens of bags were fitted into garbage cans, filled, tied up and dragged to the curb for collection. All the while, our testers kept these qualities in mind:

  • Strength: Does the bag hold a lot of trash without breaking or tearing? Do they leak? If there are drawstring handles, how do those hold up?
  • Stretch: Can the bag stretch to accommodate large or misshapen bits of trash?
  • Odor control: Does the bag keep garbage smells at bay?

Our Test Kitchen-Preferred Trash Bag Brands

After filling up dozens of bags and taking plenty of trips to the curb, four bags emerged as winners. These are the best trash bags you can buy for your kitchen.

Best Flex Trash Bag: Glad ForceFlex Tall Kitchen Drawstring Trash Bags

Glad ForceFlex Tall Kitchen Trash Bags, 13 Gallon, 120 Count, UnscentedVia walmart.com

One of the greatest updates to the classic trash bag has to be the webbed plastic that allows bags to stretch but not break. These flexible garbage bags are a must when containing heavy and misshapen rubbish. And while there are plenty of flexible bin bags on the market, one stood out in our testing: Glad ForceFlex Drawstring Trash Bags

This Glad bag snuggled right into the can liner and the top cinched right around the lip. This allowed our testers to stuff this bag full without having the trash bag slip. And when it came time to take out the trash, testers had no worries. The ForceFlex texture expanded to accommodate the contents while staying strong as the bag was walked to the curb. Bag after bag, testers never had a single mess to clean up. That’s the ultimate win.

  • Price: $16.47 for 120 bags
  • Price per bag: $0.14

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Best Non-Flex Trash Bag: Husky Tall Kitchen Trash Bags

Husky Tall Kitchen Trash Bags, 13 Gallon, 120 Bags (Expandable Drawstring)Via walmart.com

We get it: Splurging on those spendy flex bags can seem unnecessary for something you’re just going to toss. If simple is your style, try Husky Trash Bags.

Pulling these bags out of the box, our testers found that these Husky bags were pretty thin. This had us worried that we’d have a leak or break on our hands, but no! Garbage day after garbage day, these trash bags stayed intact. The smooth plastic was tear-resistant and never snagged or ripped (even with pointy, bulky trash inside). These basic bags pleasantly surprised us all—and we’d buy another box.

  • Price: $11.88 for a box of 120 bags
  • Price per bag: $0.10

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Best Trash Bag for Odor Control: Hefty Ultra Strong Tall Kitchen Trash Bags

Hefty Ultra Strong Tall Kitchen Trash Bags, Clean Burst Scent, 13 Gallon, 80 Count (Packaging May Vary)Via amazon.com

Keeping garbage smells under control is challenging, especially if you cook frequently. No one wants the smell of last night’s scraps layered with this morning’s banana peel. And while many bags may tout great strength, not all can keep those scents contained—except for Hefty Ultra Strong Trash Bags.

The secret to keeping unpleasant scents under control: baking soda. These bags are treated with Arm & Hammer baking soda which absorbs unwanted odors—just like that box in your fridge does. Two-day-old takeout and greasy napkins? No issue for these trash bags.

And when it did come time to finally take out the trash, our testers felt these bags were plenty strong. The plastic here felt thick and sturdy.

  • Price: $15.98 for 80 bags
  • Price per bag: $0.20

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Best Store Brand: Great Value Strong Flex Tall Kitchen Trash Bags

Great Value Strong Flex Tall Kitchen Trash Bags, 13 Gallon, 80 Bags (Unscented, Dual Action Odor Control, Drawstring)Via walmart.com

We get it: You don’t always want to pay a premium for name brands, so sometimes you reach for a generic option to save a few bucks. If that’s your shopping style, we recommend you opt for Walmart’s Great Value Strong Flex Trash Bags. This generic option was a great bargain.

With flexible, stretchable plastic, our testers were able to pack these bags full. But what really had our testers enjoying this Walmart buy was how well it lined the garbage can. The drawstring closure really gripped the top of the waste bin which meant testers could toss in heavy waste like watermelon rinds without worrying about the bag sliding down.

  • Price: $10.47 for a box of 80 bags
  • Price per bag: $0.13

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The Bottom Line

Bag after bag, we learned a few things in this test:

  • Look for flexible plastic: Bags made of flex or stretchy plastic were less likely to break.
  • Baking soda is the ultimate odor fighter: Scented bags just cover up unpleasant smells. To really keep your kitchen odor-free, opt for a bag that’s treated with baking soda.
  • Spend a little more: While we did find a few good value options in our search for the best trash bags, overall, testers noticed that spending a few extra bucks on a box of garbage bags paid off. Pricier bags did deliver on leak-free, tear-free promises.

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Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is an associate editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.