August 24, 2008

Modern Trash Receptacles Repel Fingerprints, Germs

By Brianna Horan

Oscar the Grouch is moving on up.

Long gone are the dirty smudges, circling flies and messy overhanging liners that once made his trash can a home.

Modern receptacles are equipped with tight lids, shiny coatings and infrared sensors that would make Oscar wonder whether he had the right address.

An increasing number of homeowners are purchasing waste bins that seem too fancy for trash. With price tags ranging from $30 to $300, these investments aren't meant to be put out on the curb any time soon.

At, which is powered by, the most popular cans are the chrome looks offered by brands like Brabantia and Nine Stars.

"Generally, people are looking for trash cans that can blend in with their kitchen, hence, the attraction to stainless steel," writes Kevin Gleeson, director of marketing for, in an e-mail.

But these aren't your typical metal trash cans. Brabantia makes Finger Print Proof pedal trash cans ($46.35-$108.65, 5-liters to 30 liters) with a special dirt- and stain-resistant coating that makes fingerprints invisible. They're also fitted with a nylon hinge designed to withstand 30,000 openings and closings.

"These trash cans are ideal for families with small children who tend to touch everything in sight," Gleeson says.

Germ and bacteria-conscious consumers will love the idea that they don't have to touch anything with the Nine Stars Infrared trash cans ($47-$226). When a hand or any rubbish comes within 10 inches of the motion-sensitive sensor on the can, its lid automatically opens. Powered by batteries or an optional A/C Adaptor, the lids remain under warranty for two years of effortless openings and closings. As if the hands-free feature wasn't convenient enough, the cans have garbage-bag retainer rings that hold liners in place while keeping them out of sight.

Concealment is the last thing some homeowners have in mind when it comes to their trash cans.

"Most of my customers want something that's going to look nice and accent the way they've decorated their kitchen already," says Dominick Farina, owner of

He says his Web site's sales are split fairly evenly between contemporary models and more traditional-looking Amish handmade wooden receptacles. The latter designs come in woods like hickory and oak, and feature intricate carvings, hand-painted lids and flip- top openings that add to the decor of a room rather than the debris.

Some models even add precious storage and counter space to a room. The Amish Made Double Tilt Out Dry Sink Combo available at ($525) hides two tilt-out trash containers underneath a 43-inch oak surface.

When kitchen remodelers design new kitchens, built-in versions of the hidden, under-counter trash cans are a standard part of the blueprint.

"Mostly, they like to conceal the trash cans, usually put them in cabinets as much as possible," says Mark Uchida, owner of A ReMARKable Kitchen Store in Blawnox.

He works with his customers to plan the amount of storage they want to give up for trash-can space. Typically a 35-quart bin is fitted into an under-counter cabinet.

Even if they're not thinking about an updated can for Oscar and all of his trash treasures, most homeowners are thinking green.

"Almost everything we do involves recycling, with at least two and sometimes as many as four containers to sort waste and recyclables," Uchida says.

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