Garbage bags

Garbage bag buying guide

Last updated: February 2013

Getting started

If you're left holding the bag, you want the bag to be holding the trash, not spilling it onto the kitchen floor. But in tests of tall kitchen bags, the top-selling type of garbage bags, we found big differences in performance.

Our tests

Hoisted aloft by a pulley apparatus, the top-rated garbage bags held about 50 pounds of barbells before stretching like taffy and dropping their load. The lowest-rated garbage bag (see our Ratings) failed with about 35 pounds.

For one of our tests, project leader Bob Karpel put each bag in wastebaskets, and then tossed in cans of Vienna sausages and weights until the bags broke when lifted. Most ripped just below his grip, leaving him holding a white flag of surrender.

The winners

The two top-rate garbage bags have other advantages. One garbage bag is advertised as using less plastic, based on thickness: Its maker says the top section is 0.95 mils thick; the rest, 0.78 mils thick. Most other bags are about 0.9 mils throughout. The other top-rated garbage bag has a stretchable drawstring to help hold it to a wastebasket rim.

Bottom line

For heavy use, try one of the Recommended garbage bags. If you use bags for light trash, as in a bathroom, consider less-pricey brands.


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