If you purchase a quality product, your bin should last you longer than you'd think.

By Sara Dickinson
July 02, 2020
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Getty / Sasha_Suzi

When was the last time you replaced your trash can? You might have to think about it. Though it very well may be one of the least sanitary must-haves in your home, you probably can't recall when you bought yours. If this sounds familiar, you also may be wondering if it is time to invest in a new model. Here, David Wolbert, the head of innovation at Simplehuman, explains how often you should be replacing your bin—and his response may surprise you.

Do what you can to keep your garbage bin out of the trash.

Believe it or not, Wolbert says that you technically shouldn't have to replace your garbage can regularly. "You're supposed to put the trash in the can—not the other way around," he explains.

Invest in a model that will last.

So, you can't exactly figure out how old your garbage can is, which means it might be time to upgrade. A good place to start? Invest in a quality model with a pedal (the mechanism that allows you to step on a lever to pop open the top) that is built to last, says Wolbert, to ensure this is a one-time purchase over the next two decades. "We engineer our cans to last 150,000 steps. That's 20 steps a day for 20 years," he says.

Avoid plastic.

According to Wolbert, garbage cans that go the distance aren't made from plastic. "Cheap plastic cans have flimsy pedals that often fail quickly," he explains. They also have another downside—plastic materials retain odors. If you're noticing that your can has an odor that no amount of scrubbing can neutralize, it's time to buy a new one.

Clean your bin regularly to extend its lifespan.

Speaking of scrubbing, you can easily extend your bin's lifespan—whatever its material—by wiping it down and sudsing it up once per week. These methods are safe for metal models, like cans made from aluminum or stainless steel, as well; using a soft cloth, simply go over the can's interior with a mild detergent or a mixture of vinegar and warm water to keep it good as new and out of a landfill. An even better rule of thumb? Give your trash can a good clean every time you change the bag.

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