Buyers Guide & Information

Best Trash Compactors For Reducing Waste

Find the best-rated trash compactors for your kitchen with these top-quality freestanding and built-in models.

by PlumberJohn

Nobody likes waste. On average, the American will produce 4.4 pounds of trash a day. While everyone has garbage bags, these can be big, bulky and take up space in your kitchen. A trash compactor can help you reduce your waste by 80% if you use it correctly. This means fewer bin bags, less room taken up in your home, less smell, and more efficiency.

There are many different varieties of trash compactors with different features and available for all kinds of budgets. This guide will take you through the key features of trash compactors and give you information on all the best products, allowing you to make an informed decision.

Preview

Product

Compactor Type

Horsepower

Dimensions (Inches)

Check Price

KitchenAid KTTS505ESS

KitchenAid KTTS505ESS

Automatic

1/3

34.1 H, 24 D, 15 W

Whirlpool TU950QPXS

Whirlpool TU950QPXS

Automatic

1/3

33 ⅞ H, 24 ⅓ D, 15 W

GE Profile UCG1650LII 15' Built In Compactor...

GE UCG1650LII

Automatic

1/3

35 H, 14.9 D, 24 W

Gladiator GACP15XXMG Modular Garage Trash...

Gladiator GACP15XXMG

Automatic

1/3

38 H, 24 D, 15 W

GE UCG1680LSS

GE UCG1680LSS

Automatic

1/3

35 H, 24 D, 14.88 W

Squash-It Circular Regular Trash Compactor

Squash-It Circular

Manual

N/A

30 H, 5.5 D, 5.5 W

The Step N Sort 959586 Compacting Trash Can,...

The Step N Sort 959586

Manual

N/A

18.5 H, 26.7 D, 15.5 W

Household Essentials TK10XL-1 Trash Krusher...

Household Essentials TK10XL-1

Manual

N/A

17.5 H, 25.5 D, 14.6 W

GE UCG1600LBB

GE UCG1600LBB

Automatic

1/3

35 H, 24 D, 14 W


How Trash Compactors Work & Why Use One

Trash compactors are devices that take in trash and garbage and crush it together, so it takes up much less space. This can then be bagged up and disposed of in the usual way.

How do trash compactors work?

Trash compactors are essentially trash cans with an electric motor used to power a mechanized ram. When switched on, the ram pushes the trash and forces it together, reducing the overall volume by up to 80%.

Trash compactors offer a range of benefits, including:

  • Reduction of odor from trash in your home
  • Less need for garbage bags
  • Environmentally friendly as they reduce landfill waste
  • Keep your home tidier and cleaner

Are trash compactors worth the investment?

There has been some debate over whether trash compactors are worth the money, but more and more people are seeing the value of them in their homes. They offer immediate savings in the number of garbage bags you need to buy, which, after a few years, really does add up. They also make life more convenient by reducing the number of times you have to take the trash out.


Buying Guide: Choosing A Quality Trash Compactor

Size

Trash compactors come in a range of sizes, meaning they work in almost any kitchen. Generally, they are 12 or 15 inches wide, 34 to 35 inches high, and 24 to 25 inches deep. When selecting your trash compactor, you need to consider and measure the space you have available to make sure it fits in your kitchen.

Compactor Type

There are two main types of compactors, automatic or manual. Automatic compactors use electric motors to compress the trash, and all you need to do is touch a button. Manual compactors are done by hand and generally involve using a handle. This uses less power but does rely on physical strength, so it won't work for everyone. Usually, automatic compactors are more powerful and are more durable. They are more expensive, but this makes them a more long term investment.

You can also choose between built-in or freestanding compactors. Built-in compactors take up less room in your home and are less visible; however, they cannot fit in as much trash. Freestanding units are ideal for households that produce a lot of trash as they can handle higher volumes.

Compaction Force & Ratio

Different trash compactors have different strengths depending on the motor. The most powerful compactors have a force of up to 3000 tonnes, which can give them a ratio of 6/1. This means it will reduce the volume of waste by 6 times. The least powerful compactors will generally have a ratio of 2/1. If you know you have high volumes of waste, you should opt for a high compaction ratio.

Ease of Installation

Installation is a factor some people often overlook, but it's important, especially if you aren't a great DIYer. You may find a cheap unit, but if you're not able to do it yourself, you could be paying an extra $100 just to get a professional to install. This is often a key selling point for products, so look for those that are self-proclaimed as easy to install.

Ease of Maintenance

Trash compactors see a lot of use, and at the end of the day, they handle your waste. You need to be able to maintain it and clean it, so it keeps working effectively for longer. A common issue for trash compactors is a bad odor, but this can be countered by getting a reliable brand with a good mechanism. This will also be easier to clean and maintain in the long run.

Extra Features

  • Odor control system
    Many manufacturers now have an inbuilt air freshener in the trash compactor to help keep it smelling fresh. This is useful for keeping your whole home clean.
  • Anti-jam feature
    To stop waste clogging your machine, many compactors now feature an anti-jam device, which will help remove blockages without having to manually stick your hand. Many modern models now have an automatic anti-jam, so you don't even need to think about it.
  • Noise insulation
    There is nothing worse than a loud trash compactor that impacts your whole household. Noise insulation around the mechanism of your unit will help keep it running quietly and minimize any disruption.
  • Bin full indicator
    Many newer models now feature an indicator to let you know it’s full and that you need to empty it. A small feature, but still very useful.
  • Fire suppression systems
    Fires in trash compactors are extremely rare, but you can safeguard against it by getting a trash compactor with a built-in fire extinguisher, which will activate automatically when needed.

Price & Warranty

Getting value for money should be at the forefront of every purchase for your home. You should always strike a balance between quality and price, but our advice is to pick an affordable budget and stick to it. The prices will vary massively with cheap models for a few hundred dollars and the top of the line coming in at over $1,000. Bear in mind that often spending more upfront will save you in the long term.

Always look for a warranty on your purchase to help protect you as a buyer. Never accept less than 1 year, but if you can, try and get 3 years plus, so if there is a fault, you can replace it with no issues.


9 Best Trash Compactors Reviewed

1. KitchenAid KTTS505ESS

Best Rated Trash Compactor

Compactor Type

Automatic

Horsepower

1/3

Dimensions (inches)

34.1 H, 24 D, 15 W

Installation

Built-in

Our number one pick when it comes to trash compactors because of the features, look, and feel. It has a lot of raw power with a 5 to 1 compact ratio meaning you can take 5 loads of waste and make it into 1. It can fit 1.4 cubic feet of waste, which is a lot for any household, and it has a ⅓ HP engine.

KitchenAid is a well-known brand in this field and has been operating since the late 1800s. Their success has been in their quality, putting a lot of thought and effort into their designs and using good quality materials to bring them to life. This means their products are more reliable and longer-lasting than some cheaper brands.

KitchenAid has built-in several key features to make this trash compactor stand out. Odor control is built into the machine with an air freshening system to stop the waste smell from leaking into your home.  Underpinning the machine is Solid Pack Technology, which helps reduce waste output by up to 80%. It also has noise dampeners to keep it running quietly. 

Priced at around $1,500 (depending on specifics), this is definitely not a budget compactor, but if you can afford it, it's worth the outlay. It's made to last and protected with a 1-year warranty against any defects outside of usual wear and tear.

This is a built-in unit that is stylish and available in a range of colors. If you want a good looking trash compactor that fits in your kitchen, this is almost certainly the one for you. If looks are less relevant to you, then other, cheaper units on our list may be better suited.

Pros
  • Stylish
  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Powerful but quiet
Cons
  • More expensive
  • Average warranty (1 year)

2. Whirlpool TU950QPXS

Best Under the Counter Compactor

Compactor Type

Automatic

Horsepower

1/3

Dimensions (inches)

33 ⅞ H, 24 ⅓ D, 15 W

Installation

Built-in

This under the counter trash compactor is our top pick for those who don’t have space for a freestanding unit. It's made to last and built entirely from stainless steel. This is regarded as one of the toughest materials and means you can trust it to deal with all types of waste. It's made to be a compact compactor and is fitted with a foot pedal so you can open it even when your hands are full.

Whirlpool is an American brand that is much more modern than its competitors. Their motto is sophisticated, not complicated, and you can see that in their trash compactors. They don't look to do all the glitz and glamour but rather produce some consistent quality. In doing so, they've made themselves a well-respected brand in the kitchen appliance industry.

Whirlpool has built this stainless steel trash compactor to be efficient. There's an anti-jam system built-in meaning the trash compacting ram will automatically retreat if it meets resistance. It has a compaction ratio of 4 to 1, meaning that every 4 kilos of waste you put in will push it down to 1 kilo. This is slightly lower than the industry standard but still plenty for most households.

This is a manual compactor with an activation button on the inside of the machine. Unfortunately, due to the smaller size of this compactor, it needs to be run more often, it's better suited to smaller households. It's also worth noting that it doesn't have an automatic odor control system. If you live in a hotter climate, this may well be an issue for you.

This compactor certainly isn’t the cheapest out there and costs around $1,200. This is in the middle, and given the quality and some of the features, it is pretty good value. It also comes with a 1-year warranty to protect against any defects.

The stainless steel finish looks good, and this compactor is built well. It also gets good reviews across the board, and at this price point, it does offer some good value. If you want a basic, under the counter trash compactor for your home, this is probably the one for you.

Pros
  • Stainless steel finish
  • Compact and efficient
  • Anti-jam system
Cons
  • No deodorizing system
  • Lower compact ratio (4 to 1)

3. GE UCG1650LII

Best Built-in Compactor

Compactor Type

Automatic

Horsepower

1/3

Dimensions (inches)

35 H, 14.9 D, 24 W

Installation

Built-in

Built-in trash compactors offer a range of benefits, and they allow even those with small kitchens access to a compactor. In the last few decades, we've seen technology improve so that they operate just as well as larger units. The GE trash compactor is highly rated by customers with an average rating of 4 out of 5 stars. The real strength of this trash compactor is that it is barely noticeable in the home.

GE, General Electrical, has a long history spanning back almost 150 years. Their company has been built on innovation and finding clever solutions to household issues. You can see this in this trash compactor, which has been designed for those who may not have been able to accommodate a standard unit. They are a well-known brand, and they have a reputation you can trust.

This trash compactor has ⅓ horsepower, which is enough to deal with most waste and a 3 to 1 compact ratio. This is the lowest on our list and is noticeably lower than the industry standard. However, it should be able to handle your household waste. The whole unit looks just like another cupboard, and the buttons on the outside mean you never have to reach in. There's a side release feature meaning you can slide trash in rather than having to lift it up and over. This is an underrated feature for those who might struggle with the weight.

It comes with anti-jamming technology as standard and an odor-neutralizing system to limit the impacts of the waste. It's compact, quiet, and basically unseen in your kitchen as it's available in a range of colors and finishes.

Priced at around $1,000, this is a more affordable trash compactor with some useful features you'll appreciate. GE offers a 1-year warranty on its product, but it can be extended. If you have a small household, limited space, and appreciate aesthetics, this built-in trash compactor is one to consider, especially given the price.

Pros
  • Unnoticeable in the kitchen, blends in
  • Compact
  • Side bin release
Cons
  • Low compact ratio (3 to 1)

4. Gladiator GACP15XXMG

Best Freestanding Compactor

Compactor Type

Automatic

Horsepower

1/3

Dimensions (inches)

38 H, 24 D, 15 W

Installation

Freestanding

Freestanding trash compactors offer some benefits as they are generally much larger than built-in or under the counter units. Not everybody likes to sacrifice the space in the home, but if you have a lot of waste, they are the way to go. The Gladiator freestanding trash compactor is our top pick because it has a solid 4 to 1 compact ratio and a capacity of 1.4 cubic meters. It provides 2,200 pounds of force per square inch, which is more than most other compactors.

Gladiator is another fairly modern brand compared to others, but they are well known. They have a wide variety of product lines and make a series of trash compactors that receive very positive reviews. Gladiator has set themselves apart by introducing an extremely robust set of testing for their products. This ensures consistent quality and durability that not all of their competitors have.

This is not a light unit and weighs around 175 pounds. Gladiator has added wheels onto the trash compactor to make it portable and negate the disadvantage of the weight. This is a doubly useful feature if you think you might want to move it between rooms or directly outside to empty. There’s an anti-jam feature to prevent any issues in usage, and a handy foot pedal to operate.

This freestanding unit is priced very competitively at around $800 and represents a real saving against other brands. Gladiator offers the industry-standard 1-year warranty against all defects. This is undoubtedly one of the sturdier brands, though, and if you follow our maintenance tips, then you should see a lot of use from it.

Freestanding units aren't for everyone, and this isn't the most stylish on the market, but it is well built and reliable. The power and volume make it well suited to larger households, and for this price point, you should definitely consider it for your home.

Pros
  • Powerful
  • Wheels to easy to move
  • Anti-jam
  • Low cost
Cons
  • Less stylish
  • Can be noisy

5. GE UCG1680LSS

Best Under the Counter Compactor

Compactor Type

Automatic

Horsepower

1/3

Dimensions (inches)

35 H, 24 D, 14.88 W

Installation

Built-in

Given GE's wide range of high performing products, it's no surprise they feature on the list more than once. This compactor is the pinnacle of simplicity and offers a very minimalist design that fits well in any kitchen. Even though this is a built-in unit, it still provides 1.4 cubic meters of capacity for your waste, and GE has even included an automatic locking mechanism to make sure it's safe around your family. 

This is a compact trash compactor built for your kitchen. Despite being small, it has a ⅓ horsepower engine to drive the ram and compact your waste, and it has an anti-jam system to help avoid any issues with usage.

Priced at around $1,000, this is an excellent upgrade for any home. It should last a while, provided you maintain it properly, and there is a 1-year guarantee on labor and parts to help give you peace of mind.

This is a very chic trash compactor that shows GE's experience and expertise. It blends in perfectly with your kitchen with its elegant design, and it's perfect for the kitchen. It doesn't have the same power as some other models, but it has more than enough to handle your household waste, providing you aren't in a huge household—definitely one to consider.

Pros
  • Stylish
  • Compact, perfect for kitchens
  • Anti-jam
Cons
  • Less powerful than alternatives

6. Squash-It Circular

Best Cheap Trash Compactor

Compactor Type

Manual

Horsepower

N/A

Dimensions (inches)

30 H, 5.5 D, 5.5 W

Installation

N/A

Not everyone can afford top of the range trash compactors, but given the benefits they offer, we thought we would source a cheap alternative accessible to everyone. The Squash-It circular trash compactor is entirely manual and relies on your physical strength to push trash down. This lets you put more in your trash can without having to take it out.

As you can imagine, this product doesn’t have all the features of other trash compactors on the list as it’s a lot more old school. Squash-it has produced the simplest of solutions to an obvious problem. It has a wide base to let you cover the biggest volume and can help reduce waste by up to 50%.

It’s made from PVC and reasonably durable. This is one of those products that once you own it, you'll wonder how you did without it. Priced at under $50, you can spend a fraction of what you would on other products and still get good functionality. 

Well suited for businesses, schools, or homes, basically wherever you have trash that needs to be crushed! Squash-It has made something useful and very simple.

Pros
  • Cheap
  • Simple
Cons
  • Completely manual and less powerful
  • Much less functionality

7. The Step N Sort 959586

Best Portable Trash Compactor

Compactor Type

Manual

Horsepower

N/A

Dimensions (inches)

18.5 H, 26.7 D, 15.5 W

Installation

Freestanding

Small trash compactors have become much more popular in the last few years, especially as the technology has improved to make the technology just as effective as in larger models. These have the advantage of being lighter and portable, perfect for those who want to move them within a room or home.

Before we look at the price, which is low, we first should consider the quality and features. It's easy to use with a foot pedal and can hold up to 11 gallons of waste. This is plenty for most small rooms but not really as a kitchen compactor. It has a compact ratio of 3 to 1, allowing you to compact waste to ⅓ of its size, pretty impressive for such a small unit. This is a manual trash compactor, and there is a handle at the back to push down. This is worth remembering, as you will need some strength to be able to do it.

Step N Sort is a modern company founded in 2019 and focused on promoting recycling and giving green solutions to problems. They have a small range of products, but all are focused on reducing waste and making life easier. They've certainly done this here by putting a lot of functionality into a small product. It also has some useful features like a soft close lid and a fingerprint-resistant stainless steel finish.

Undoubtedly the best attribute of this trash compactor is the price. You can get this for under $100, making it the cheapest automatic trash compactor on our list and one of the cheapest on the market. It's also protected by a 1-year warranty.

Weighing just 20 pounds, this is the perfect portable trash compactor. It's cheap and effective, a welcome addition to any home.

Pros
  • Lightweight and portable
  • 3 to 1 compact ratio
  • Useful additional features
  • Cheap
Cons
  • Smaller volume

8. Household Essentials TK10XL-1

Best Manual Trash Compactor

Compactor Type

Manual

Horsepower

N/A

Dimensions (inches)

17.5 H, 25.5 D, 14.6 W

Installation

Freestanding

The Household Essentials Trash Krusher is one of the highest-rated around with recommendations from almost all owners. It's got a decent capacity of over 50 liters and has a manual mechanism operated with a lever. This allows you to crush waste down to under ⅓ of what it usually is.

Household Essentials have been operating for over 30 years and have grown massively in this time. They specialize in bins and storage, finding new ways to create more space in the home and bring benefits to every household. They make affordable but well-made products which you can rely on. They’re unlikely to last as long as premium brands, but they are certainly a name you can trust.

This is another very portable trash compactor weighing only 27 pounds. This allows you to move it between rooms as needed, and it is certainly large enough to deal with average levels of kitchen waste. This is one of the best home trash compactors because of its simplicity and practicality. It has a simple style that blends into the home, and the stainless steel exterior helps add to the longevity and durability of the product.

Priced at under $150, this is a very affordable model that is accessible to everyone. It lacks the raw power of automatic trash compactors but also lacks the considerable price tag. The compactor has a 1-year warranty offering protection against any defects in labor or parts.

If you want a simple, stylish, and effective compactor that you can use around the home, then this is one for you to consider.

Pros
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Effective at compacting
  • Cheap
Cons
  • Lower compact ratio
  • Manual so less powerful

9. GE UCG1600LBB

Best Panel Ready Trash Compactor

Compactor Type

Automatic

Horsepower

1/3

Dimensions (inches)

35 H, 24 D, 14 W

Installation

Built-in

Panel ready trash compactors are designed to slot into your kitchen seamlessly and match, so they don't stand out. GE specializes in these designs, making them sleek and elegant and available in a range of colors and models to choose what works for you. Alongside the style, this compactor offers 1.4 cubic meters of space and a 75% reduction in waste. This means savings in bin bags and time having to empty the trash. 

GE has made this trash compactor with kitchens in mind. It has an odor protection system to help rid the smell of waste, and it's compact enough that it won't take up space. It comes with an anti-jam feature to stop the mechanism from sticking and keep it running as it should.

This compactor is priced at around $1,000, but when you factor in what it can add to your kitchen, then it's a pretty good price. It's protected by a 1-year warranty against any defects or defaults. 

If you want a trash compactor that fits in your kitchen perfectly and doesn't stand out, then this panel ready model is one to consider. 

Pros
  • Blends into your kitchen
  • Stylish and customizable
  • High capacity
Cons
  • Lower compact ratio than other models
  • Can be noisy

Trash Compactor Installation & Replacement

Installing a trash compactor isn't too challenging, and anyone with experience in DIY should be able to do it. If you are a complete novice or don't feel confident, it may be worth paying a professional to do it. This could set you back $100-150, but it helps protect the investment you've made in the trash compactor.

If you're feeling confident, then the steps below will provide a guide for removing an old trash compactor and installing a new one:

  1. 1
    Unscrew the kick plate at the bottom of the device.
  2. 2
    Remove the compactor drawer. This may be slightly more complex in some models, but for most, it's as simple as sliding it out.
  3. 3
    Use a crowbar or similar tool to pry the edges from the side of the cabinet. This can be tricky, so go carefully to avoid damaging your surfaces.
  4. 4
    Pick up and slide the compactor out of the hole.

You are then ready to install the new trash compactor:

  1. 1
    Prepare the area. Make sure the space is clear and clean and that you have enough room to fit the compactor. At this point, you should make sure the dimensions will fit in the space. You may also wish to fit a circuit breaker, but this often requires a professional electrician’s help.
  2. 2
    Remove all packaging from the new compactor and make sure it is turned off. Carefully slide it into the hole and make sure the toe plate (if you have one) is in the right position.
  3. 3
    Plug in the compactor and switch it on. Make sure to test it all to make sure it works.

How to Use a Trash Compactor

Trash compactors are designed by nature to be simple to use, and there are generally only 3 main steps:

Firstly, make sure you have a specialist trash compactor bag in the machine. This will go in the compactor just as it would in a standard trash can.

You can then put waste in as usual (avoiding food waste).

Generally, there is a foot pedal or button to open the unit, and then you push it to close.

You will see from our selections above that these units often have an aestetic appeal to them as well, so they will fit nicely in your kitchen. 

Household Essentials Trash Krusher

Compacting the waste

Most trash compactors have a button or knob on the outside to activate the compaction mechanism. Make sure the unit is closed and switch it on using this to reduce the amount of waste in there.

Once the trash compactor bag is full and can't be compressed anymore, simply open the unit using the pedal, take the bag out, tie it, and toss it outside with the trash. Make sure you put another bag in the compactor before you start using it again.


Trash Compactor Cleaning & Maintenance

Cleaning your trash compactor

  1. 1
    Before cleaning, always make sure you have turned the device completely off.
  2. 2
    Wipe clean all the external surfaces of the compactor using a soft sponge to avoid any scratching.
  3. 3
    Remove the drawer (generally, there is a latch to hold) and lift it out of the device. Then wash it all clean and remove any waste.
  4. 4
    Clean inside the cabinet, making sure you get all the different corners and edges.
  5. 5
    Clean the ram inside the device using a wet cloth or paper towel. You may need to remove any bits of waste that have become lodged there.
  6. 6
    Put the whole compactor back together and switch back on at the wall.

Maintaining your trash compactor

  1. 1
    To maintain your trash compactor, you should examine all parts regularly. You may need to replace the air filter (if your unit has one), and at a minimum, this should be replaced twice a year.
  2. 2
    Be aware of glass disposal. If not crushed correctly, it can leave tiny fragments in the mechanism which harm the performance, can rip bags, and can even cause harm when you use the device. If possible, avoid putting glass in there and recycle directly. 

General tips

When cleaning, always make sure you use protective clothing such as gloves and glasses, to protect yourself.

Look for specialized cleaning products; these will be more effective and make life easier. Deodorizers are very effective at removing bad smells from your compactor.

Clean your device regularly, and at least once a month. This will make it easier every time, reduce any risk of bad odors, and increase the longevity of your trash compactor.

Always empty and clean before you go away on vacation.


People Also Ask (FAQs)

Are trash compactors worth the money?

Yes. Trash compactors not only make life easier by giving you more time back in your day, helping limit the trash you produce, and they protect the environment. You will also need fewer trash bags, which offsets the initial cost in the long run.

Can you put food in a trash compactor?

It is not recommended you put food in a trash compactor as it can spread bacteria if left too long and cause odors. Use a garbage disposal if possible.

Can trash compactors crush cans?

Yes, provided it is a powerful enough model.

Is a trash compactor the same as a garbage disposal?

No. Though they operate in similar ways, garbage disposals are designed for food waste, and trash compactors are not. For this reason, generally trash compactors are more powerful than garbage disposals.

How much space does a trash compactor save?

On average, the compact ratio for trash compactors is 5 to 1. This means you can compress waste into ⅕ of the space, meaning a space-saving of 80%.

How do trash compactor bags differ from a regular trash bag?

It is recommended you use specific trash compactor bags which are resistant to the force of the compactor. You can find these here.

How long do trash compactors last?

On average, a trash compactor will last 15 years. This will depend on the model, the durability, and how well it is maintained.

Where is the best place to buy trash compactor units?

Trash compactors can be bought from many different locations in-store or online. For the best prices, we recommend going to sellers online who have a wide variety of choices. Amazon and Build.com give you the best range to choose from so you can compare the features directly and make the best choice.


Conclusion

Trash compactors are a fantastic way to save space and become a more efficient household. The KitchenAid trash compactor offers the perfect balance of power, style, and reliability, making it our top recommendation. This is an excellent addition to any home, and once you have it, you'll wonder how you ever coped without it.

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