Review & Compare Best Trash Compactors

The days of compacting our trash like this are long gone, and just as well. The modern household trash compactor is a sleek and energy efficient appliance which serves many useful roles. On our site, you will find lots of information about trash compactors, including reviews to assist you in buying your first, or next, garbage compaction system.

Benefits of Trash Compacting

The whole idea behind trash compaction is to reduce the amount of garbage that is generated by a household (or business). In turn, this means more waste can fit in a single load when it is taken to be dumped in landfill or whatever is the garbage’s final resting place. In some neighborhoods, and this is a growing trend, residents and businesses have to compact their trash before it is collected. It is estimated that a trash compactor can reduce the volume of waste from 50 to 90 percent so that less space is required to store it and the number of garbage pickups can be reduced. All of this results in saving of energy and money for all concerned.

Trash Compactor Operation

kitchenaid builtinTrash compactors are modern kitchen appliances which have a storage drawer which slides out from the unit. In here you fit a special trash compactor bag which is tougher than a normal trash bag and into which you place your trash.

The trash to be compacted can include all sorts of garbage, including bottles, cans, polystyrene and packaging materials, food and vegetable waste. In fact, anything that can be compressed.

When the drawer is closed and the compaction cycle is started, a motor will lower a press into the trash receptacle and within a short space of time, the volume of your trash will be significantly reduced.

Features of Trash Compactors

A few features of trash compactors include:

  • key knob control to prevent unintentional use
  • console panel display
  • charcoal filter and air freshener system
  • sound insulation
  • roller wheels
  • anti-jam system for preventing and clearing jams
  • tilt sensors for avoiding unbalanced operation.

Some trash compactors include an “extra compaction” cycle, also known as Extra-Pac or “hold”. Depending on the type of trash being compacted, it can be used to hold down the trash for a period of time to prevent it from expanding again. After operation, it is a simple process to remove the bag of compacted waste, wipe down the trash compactor and fit a new bag ready for the next compaction cycle.

Types of Trash Compactors

broan nutone builtinThe two main types are under counter trash compactors and portable trash compactors (also known as free-standing, although a truly portable compactor needs to be on casters for easy movement).

Some convertible compactors can be either free standing or under counter. A freestanding trash compactor will typically have a finished top which gives the advantage of additional bench space in your kitchen, or whatever room you decide to place the compactor.

An under counter trash compactor can be conveniently installed between cabinets which saves space. It is also possible to build-in the unit with a trim kit to provide a flush fitting look in keeping with the rest of the kitchen.

The size of domestic trash compactors is reasonably uniform across different brands – height about 34 to 35 inches, width between 12 and 15 inches, and depth around 24 to 25 inches. The compressed trash space is about 1.4 to 1.6 cubic feet.

The major difference between machines in their compacting force which can vary between 2000 pounds and 5000 pounds of force. This affects both the compaction rate and the cycle time, which you are able to compare in our trash compactor reviews.

Trash Compacting and Kitchen Composting

The benefits of having a kitchen trash compactor are without argument. The ability to compress trash (particularly dry waste) provides many advantages ranging from convenience, cost reduction and positive environmental impact.

However, in some cases, the modern home trash compactor is not well suited for organic waste, in particular, kitchen food scraps and the like.

A wonderful complementary approach to your domestic waste is to use a kitchen composting system in conjunction with your trash compactor. This type of product enables you to convert organic trash not suited to the compactor into rich compost for your garden.

There are basically two approaches to kitchen composting – an automatic system which uses a minimal amount of power to produce the compost (such as the NatureMill automatic compost bin) or a manual system, such as the traditional Sunwood Life Bokashi compost kit. Either way, you will produce super compost for virtually a few pennies and further reduce your household trash.

Under Counter Trash Compactors

Under counter trash compactors (sometimes called built-in trash compactors) are the most popular type of domestic trash compactor, mostly for installation in the kitchen although they are compact enough to be installed in utility or other rooms, or a boat or RV.

Broan Elite black doorAny trash compactor will significantly reduce the volume of your household waste (up to 75%), as well as making for easy clean up in messy kitchens.

All trash compactors have elegant styling in keeping with modern kitchen appliances and will sit nicely alongside your dishwasher and other built-in products.

While it does not have a finished top that can be used as bench space, a significant benefit of under counter trash compactors is saving space.

The machine can either sit in a recess and blend in with surrounding furniture or be built-in with finishing kits supplied by most manufacturers.

Built-in trash compactors come in a standard size range to facilitate them being incorporated into normal kitchen environments. They can be readily installed by a home handyman, and require only a power outlet for operation.

Trash compactors tend to have similar operating characteristics, such as motors of about 1/3 horsepower, the compacted rubbish capacity of about 1.5 cubic feet and a compacting force of between 3000 and 5000 pounds. These vital statistics are shown on our individual trash compactor reviews pages and summarized below.

Other standard features provided by almost all trash compactors are:

  • an anti-jam function to prevent the compactor from jamming when in operation
  • air freshener system with charcoal filter
  • substantial noise installation.

trash signUnder counter, trash compactors do not require much maintenance, other than an occasional vacuum of the interior and a wash of the interior and exterior as you would other appliances, such as a dishwasher.

Safety features receive high priority on trash compactors, so check out if the machine has tilt sensors, a removable key lock control to prevent unauthorized or child access and side or front access to eliminate the need to lift the compacted trash bag.

Trash compactor bags can be made of either plastic or heavy-duty paper and it is advisable to use the bags recommended by the manufacturer.

A trash compactor is an extremely convenient device which will enhance the efficiency of waste management in your household. When built-in it will also add an attractive presence to your kitchen.

Under Counter Trash Compactor Comparison







 Elite 15


Architect II



 HxWxD (in) 34.1×14.9×21.5  34.1x15x24  34.5×15.25×24  34.1x15x24  35×14.9×24  34.4×14.9×21.5
 Capacity (c.ft)  1.55  1.4  1.4  1.4  1.4  1.55
 Motor (hp)  3/4  1/3  1/3  1/3  1/3  3/4
 Force (lbs)  3000  2300  2300  3000  2300  3000
 Compression ratio  6:1  4.1  5:1  5:1  4.1  6.1
 Full Review – click







 MSRP¹-white/black²  $1210 Not available  $1179  $849  $1005  Not available
 Buy or check store-click  Amazon³ Not available  Manufacturer  Manufacturer  Amazon3  Not available
 MSRP¹-stainless²  $1236  $829  $1179  $949  $1064  $1199
Buy or check store-click  Amazon3  Manufacturer  Manufacturer  Manufacturer  Amazon3  Amazon3
  • Notes for Under Counter Trash Compactors:
  • ¹MSRP is Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price
  • ²White, black or stainless steel trash compactor door
  • ³Amazon ships free of charge to many locations

Portable Trash Compactors

Most trash compactors are designed to fit under counters or be built-in to existing cabinetry, usually in the kitchen. However, some situations call for portable trash compactors such as in a workshop or garage.

A number of undercounter trash compactors can be installed in a standalone mode with the addition of a toe kick accessory plate. Trash compactors which can be installed in this way include the Broan Elite and the Electrolux ICON Pro.

gladiator workshop

In a typical home garage and workshop, space is needed for a handyman and other projects so the various pieces of equipment and furniture need to be movable.

Ideally, these items need to be on casters and this is where a portable trash compactor, such as the Gladiator GarageWorks come to the fore.


portable trash compactor

With a rugged yet stylish portable trash compactor like this, managing your garage layout becomes simple. Just wheel the compactor to a corner out of the way when space is needed and lock the casters in position to prevent a runaway.

When it is time to compact trash, roll the compactor to a power source and commence the operation, once again with the casters locked in position.

This portability gives machines like the Gladiator GarageWorks a huge advantage over standalone trash compactors which cannot be readily moved, and built-in trash compactors which definitely cannot be easily moved.