Car trash cans are a wildly popular item, available in a huge variety of shapes, sizes, and qualities. We spent an entire week looking at options, and after reviewing over 60 of the most recommended cans on the market, we're absolutely positive the DRIVE Trash Bin is the best car trash can out there. Its compact-yet-roomy design provides a good amount of volume on the inside while not being too bulky on the outside, and its use of disposable bags makes cleanup as easy as it gets. It's also leakproof to prevent spills, and even offers a few unique extras to increase its daily usability. Article Summary
Car trash cans are one of the greatest inventions to ever come to life. How many times have you let old receipts, snack wrappers, and other various junk pile up in your car over time because you had nowhere else to put it? We’re all guilty of it! Or worse yet – how many times have you let friends and family in your car just to find trash that they left behind? No matter how hard you try, trash is just one of those things that will always be present in life, and having a small storage bin for your car can be a total lifesaver in keeping your vehicle spotless.
As soon as the concept of a vehicle-specific trash container was realized, brands from all across the auto industry began releasing their own versions trying to create the best car trash can out there. From simple single-purpose bins to elaborate multi-purpose organizers, you’ve got a number of different styles to choose from all for the purpose of helping you keep your car clean of everyday trash, litter, and junk. However, a common issue that has arisen is the focus on form instead of function. So many brands are focused more on the looks of their container than whether the container actually serves its purpose! As silly as it may sound, there are basic necessities that a trash can must have in order to do a sufficient job.
In order to find the best car trash can, we started by looking at those necessities. To do a good job, it has to be compact enough to not get in the way, while also offering a fair amount of volume to store trash. It has to secure into place well and include a covered top so that it doesn’t bounce around while driving and throw trash everywhere. In addition, it has to be easy to clean, and it must be leakproof! You don’t want any excess liquid from a finished drink to start dripping out of the bag and onto your interior.
With all these considerations in mind, plus a number of others that we’ll talk about later on, we spent an entire week researching car trash cans to find the perfect container to do it all. After nearly 45 total hours spent comparing brands and features, we’ve found the three options below to be the best.
The best car trash can overall
Some cans have a little more storage space, others have a little more style appeal, but we believe the car trash can that does it best all-around is the DRIVE Bin. We aren’t the only ones who feel this way either; the DRIVE Bin is also the #1 best-selling car trash can on Amazon and a number of other retailers, averaging a 4.8/5 star rating out of the 2,000+ customer reviews we compiled from different sources.
So what makes this bin any more special than the dozens of other options out there? To put it simply, it does exactly what you want it to. Sounds cliché, right? Hear us out and we’ll explain. DRIVE Auto Products is a company that specializes in creating universal interior products for vehicles, and their philosophy behind creating products is to first ask consumers what they want, and then make the product based on those specifications. Well, by asking consumers for their input first before even making the product, DRIVE is able to create essentially the “perfect” product every time – or at least the one that consumers will like best.
As seen on numerous television shows, including As Seen On TV, TBS, and The Travel Channel, the Drive Bin has become the go-to product for people looking for a vehicle-sized waste deposit. For its main construction, it uses a thick poly-nylon material that’s not only durable, but also 100% leakproof and even insulated to double as a cooler. From a functional material standpoint, this is as good as it gets. One day you could have the bin filled with leftover food and half-finished drinks, the next day you could be headed to the pool with a cooler full of cold Coke’s. No matter which scenario you choose, there is a handy lid that completely covers the top with a Velcro seal in order to keep your gatherings contained, and there’s even a small side pocket to store additional items on the go.
To make cleanup as easy as possible and also eliminate the possibility of odors setting into the poly-nylon material, DRIVE’s trash bin utilizes disposable plastic bags that line the inside of the material, just like your kitchen trash can at home. Most car trash cans have NON-disposable liners that require washing after use to keep clean and ensure freshness. That method works fine, but we prefer DRIVE’s disposable solution because it requires less work – just remove the old bag, pop in a new one, and you’re ready to go. DRIVE includes 20 custom-made bags to start you off when you first get your bin, but when you run out, a regular grocery store plastic bag does the job perfectly from there (or you can buy miniature trash bags if you prefer).
The DRIVE Bin hit every important feature on our checklist (compact, good volume for trash, durable, leakproof, easy cleanup) and even included a few extras (full-cover Velcro lid, disposable bags, side pocket for additional storage, insulated to double as a cooler). This bin covers all the wants and needs you could have, and at a price under $20, no one can deny the immense value that it offers. This is not only our top pick for best car trash can – but according to the public ratings and reviews, it’s the consumer’s choice as well.
A more attractive runner-up
In terms of style, we feel that the Mainly Auto Car Trash Can is one of the best-looking models out there (even better than our top pick). The only reason we placed this bin as a runner-up instead of number one is because the DRIVE Bin’s design offers a little more versatility and it has a couple extra features. With that said, if you’re looking for a more attractive trash bin that still offers 90% of the functionality and user friendliness, the Mainly Auto bin is the perfect choice.
Right off the bat, the first thing that catches the eye about Mainly Auto’s trash can is their attractive design. It looks nothing like the average car trash can; it looks more like a high-end travel backpack with its sharp edges, charcoal and white contrast, and tightly stitched materials. While style isn’t at the forefront of necessities in a car trash can, it’s certainly worth the mention for those who like their cars to look good.
As far as functionality goes, this garbage bin offers almost all of the same benefits and features as our top pick. You’ve got 2 gallons of storage space for trash, disposable bags for quick and simple trash removal, and a 100% leakproof liner to prevent leaks and spills from liquid contents. One unique benefit of this bin is that the inside liner is also removable and washable just in case anything were to get through the disposable bag and onto the liner itself. While this doesn’t happen often, it’s a great option to have to ensure cleanliness. The only feature that the Mainly Auto bin lacked compared to our top pick was the insulated liner. The DRIVE Bin’s insulated liner allowed the can to double as a cooler to keep drinks cold, which we thought was pretty neat – but if you don’t care to have your trash can double as a cooler, then you can overlook this completely.
Using a quick-release buckle and adjustable strap, the Mainly Auto garbage bin can be secured on both the back of your seats of behind your center console. However, you’re limited to only those two locations. This is another area where our top pick excelled; the DRIVE Bin’s strap design allowed it to be hung anywhere in the vehicle, not just on seats and consoles but also on more out-of-the-way places like door panels. This is one of those things that’s like the insulated liner, though – if you’re only going to be hanging your bin off your seat or center console and don’t care about being able to secure it in other areas, this small drawback can be overlooked.
Overall, the Mainly Auto Car Trash Can is a great choice. It may not offer insulated cooling, but it does provide all the other necessities (not to mention it looks awesome while doing it)! It’s slightly more expensive than our top pick, but can still be purchased for under $30, so if you’d like a little more style in your ride, this would be the best car trash can for you.
A bigger option for more trash
The JACO TrashPro might not be the most popular option out there, but it is one of the highest-rated in terms of customer reviews and offers 50% more storage space than both of our other picks. While it may take a little longer to clean since it does not utilize disposable bags, this is a great heavy-duty option for those who deal with above-average amounts of vehicle trash.
At first glance, the JACO TrashPro resembles one of those polyester reusable grocery bags that you take to and from the store when you go shopping. In a way, it shares the same base concept, but with a much more heavy-duty design. In fact, this is one of the heaviest-duty car trash cans on the market. A large majority of car trash cans are built using weak materials that are known to fall apart over time, so to ensure long-term durability of their bag, JACO built the TrashPro using 600D oxford polyester, one of the strongest polyesters out there. To further the sturdiness, rather than a pull-over lid, they opted for an open-shut style top opening using a combination of steel wire framing and thick Velcro, providing a strong closure to keep trash concealed.
This premium-quality construction offers roughly 3 gallons of leakproof storage space – a full gallon more than most other car trash cans out there (including both of our other top picks). Needless to say, if you commonly encounter a lot of trash, this is ideal for you. Even if you don’t rack up trash quickly, the extra storage space means you have to empty the bin less often.
The only drawback to its storage space is that it does not use disposable bags. It is possible to use them, but the bag was not designed for them, so you’ll have to find your own way to clamp the bags down around the top if you want to use them. This was a key benefit to our top two choices above in that it offered a quick solution to trash removal. The inner liner is removable to allow for washing, but it can be a pain to do this once a week, especially if your trash typically gets messy. With that said, this is certainly the more environmentally-friendly option if you’d like to do away with wasting plastic bags.
The JACO TrashPro is a solid runner-up if neither of our top picked trash cans worked for you. It is slightly harder to clean and dispose of trash, but it does come with the added benefit of extra-large storage space. Price-wise, this bin is right on par with most other cans (in the under-$20 range), and JACO even offers a lifetime guarantee to ensure the bin lasts forever, which is a nice bonus for worry-free purchasing.
Other trash cleaning products worth mentioning
We researched a huge number of product when writing this guide. While we consider the three options in our list to be the best car trash cans on the market, here are a couple others that came close but didn’t quite make the cut.
High Road Organizers is a company that designs all sorts of accessories for organizational purposes. They make several car trash products, the two most popular being the TrashStash and the StableMate. Both are good products, but each had a few drawbacks that kept them out of our top three. The TrashStash is a lot like our third pick (the JACO TrashPro) in terms of design and volume, but its material is not quite as heavy-duty and there were a lot of customers complaining about its durability, so it was docked back. The StableMate, on the other hand, is unique in that it is designed to sit on the floor rather than hang from your seat or center console. This is great for bigger SUV’s or vans, but for most people, it is not an ideal design.
The EPAuto Litter Bag is another popular option you’ll find if you browse around. It is very similar to our top pick in design, but it holds slightly less volume and does not come with a disposable bag option, making it more of an inconvenience to clean. There were also a few concerns about its material not lasting.
The Clean Ridez Garbage Can is a pretty cool option that looks like our second pick, the Mainly Auto bin. It even comes in a few custom colors including grey and a number of camouflage styles (these were pretty well-done). The main difference between the two is the Clean Ridez version does not offer disposable bags. We considered this to be a key feature for easy cleanup, so this unfortunately kept this model from earning a higher spot in our guide.
Things to consider before buying
Buying a car trash can is pretty straightforward, especially considering we’ve covered most of the big stuff during our research process and in our reviews of the products above. With that said, we know everyone has different interior situations, so here are a few questions to ask yourself to ensure you choose the best car trash can for your specific needs.
What kind of trash do you commonly encounter?
Thinking about what kind of trash you typically deal with is the most important consideration to make. If you only deal with little things like receipts, plastics, or other non-food products, you can probably get away with a lighter-duty can that doesn’t have a bunch of protective liners. On the other hand, if you know you’ll often have food-related waste like drinks and half-eaten meals (especially if you have kids, you know what we mean), you’ll definitely want something that’s got a thick, leakproof liner so that the trash doesn’t find it’s way out and back into your car. You’ll also want to make sure the liner is removable so it can regularly be washed and kept clean.
How much garbage space do you need?
The obvious follow-up question to what kind of trash you encounter is how much of it do you encounter? Car trash cans come in all shapes and sizes; some are designed to be more compact so that they’re sleek and out of the way, whereas others are a little on the larger side to accommodate those who deal with more trash on a day to day basis. The average car trash can has a 2-gallon storage space, but there are some available in 3-gallon volume as well. The third pick in our guide would likely be the best car trash can for those who need the most space.
Will the can fit in your car?
Every vehicle has different interior dimensions, and while most car trash cans are designed to be universal, it’s always a smart idea to check the dimensions of both your car and the trash can you’re interested in to make sure you’ll have no issue with fitment. Generally, if you’re going to hang the can on the backside of one of your front seats, you’ll have no issues. But if you’re thinking of hanging the can off the backside of the center console or maybe just setting it on your floor, this is where you’ll want to make sure you get the correct size.
Do you want any additional features?
As mentioned in the introduction to this guide, some car trash cans have evolved quite a bit from their original single-purpose design, falling more into the category of ‘organizer’ than ‘trash can’. Certain models feature a number of additional pockets and storage spaces for other daily items, and in some cases the main waste space can even double as a cooler to keep drinks and food warm/cold. While most people may not need all the extras, it’s certainly worth the consideration if you’re a frequent traveler or you commonly have multiple people riding in your car (for example, these would be extremely beneficial for Uber drivers). There are also a few other ways to keep your car organized, check out this article on Lifehacker for tips.
Wrapping it up
While their name implies otherwise, car trash cans can serve a plethora of different purposes from simple trash storage to full-blown organizer of daily products. The style you choose is completely up to you and your personal needs, and whatever those needs may be, we believe one of the three products in our list will serve them well. Due to its number of benefits and insane popularity, the DRIVE Bin earned our pick as the best car trash can. The Mainly Auto is a great runner-up if you’re looking for a little more style appeal, and the JACO TrashPro is best for those who need a little extra room for their trash.