Holden Caulfield felt sorry for people who owned ugly luggage. We have to admit a similar obsession: those with bad trash cans. Ones with lids you need to touch to open (often with wet, greasy hands). Or cans with flimsy foot pedals that noisily slam the lid open and closed. The worst yet: tiny little wicker trash baskets used in places other than a granny’s bathroom. Yes, while you can like people who have a bad trash can, it may be hard to truly respect them.

A good kitchen trash can should be big—with an 8-gallon capacity or more—hold a bag securely, be easy to clean, and have a lid that locks in odor (and opens hands free and closes quietly). And it should look good.

Here are some cans that demand respect.

Touchless Trashcan
iTouchless, $99

This is the first automatically opening can widely available to the home market: it’s an ideal can for gadget freaks or users with physical disabilities who cannot use a foot pedal. An infrared sensor at the front of the lid detects your hand when it’s within six inches. The lid opens for three seconds and then automatically lowers. However, it will stay open as long as you’re within range.

Its tall, rectangular, brushed stainless steel body holds 13 gallons under a black plastic cover and can hug a counter’s side with its slim profile. Its mechanics—including four D batteries—live in the cover and can be removed completely for bag change and easy cleaning. A black plastic ring just inside the top holds bags in place by locking along a ridge.

Caveat: If the can is set in a high-traffic area, the sensor will trip when you walk by, anticipating oncoming garbage. Like an overeager assistant, this can be annoying.

Corner Step Can
Simplehuman, $149.99

This can’s designed to be tucked into a corner. Its lid doesn’t clang against the wall when opened. Rather than lifting straight back, it opens from a hidden hinge on its left.

The triangular brushed stainless steel body holds up to 10 gallons and opens via a big foot pedal. Air shocks slow the lid’s close for a silent landing. A black plastic inner bucket lifts out. The designers have eliminated ugly bag overhang with a star-shaped “bag tuck” hole in the bucket to clench excess baggage. You can now sleep at night.

Simplehuman also makes bags, sold separately, that perfectly fit its cans. A sample of three comes with yours.

Vipp 24
Vipp, $369

Manufactured in Denmark to the standards of a handmade car—and carrying comparable sticker shock—Vipps are the iPods of the trash-can world. Their iconic design makes them instantly recognizable, they’re beautiful and functional, and they’re just as insanely desirable. Vipps date back to World War II when a Danish craftsman made the first can for his wife’s new hair salon. Legend has it the local doctor and dentist both wanted one for their offices, and the Danish bin business was born.

The Vipp 24 looks like a product of wartime Europe: solid, utilitarian, and seductively streamlined. Its signature smooth, slightly domed lid caps a tall, slim, cylindrical body. It has two stainless steel handles and a circular black-rubber-ringed foot pedal.

This 8-gallon model comes in four classic colors—black, white, cream, and stainless—all with a galvanized-steel inner bucket. Other models are available in red, orange, pink, and even a limited-edition python green.

If you commit to a Vipp—or just lust for one—you’ll definitely want to check out the world tour of artistically embellished cans. The company collaborated with Paris-based Chilean industrial designer Mauricio Clavero to create an exhibition of dazzling diamond-patterned, fiber optic lighted, fantasy trashcans. The show debuted at the Louvre this past spring and will hit the U.S. in early 2007.

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