Trash compactors are appliances that aren’t very common in American households, but those that have them are a rabid fanbase. Read this guide to understand why compactor owners love them, and if a trash compactor is a smart choice for your home.
A trash compactor is a small appliance that uses force to literally compact, or crush, trash. In doing so, compactors reduce the number of bags of trash that are thrown away and the amount of times you have to take the trash bin to the curb.
How Trash Compactors Work
The operation of trash compactors can stump a lot of people, but in reality it’s really quite simple. The homeowner simply adds a specialty bag to the bin at the bottom of the compactor (known as the trash bucket) and then empties their trash into the bin. After programming the compactor, the homeowner just needs to shut the front of the compactor and wait. The compactor has a panel that flattens the trash from the top of the bin to the bottom of the bin using force. The homeowner repeats this anytime they have trash until the bag fills up and then throws away the bag.
This helpful video from Broan illustrates the process:
Most compactors use fresheners or charcoal cartridges for odor control. A smart tip is to place a piece of newspaper on top of the trash before you compact it. This way, the top panel will not become dirty from food or dirt from the trash it is compacting.
Another way to control odor is to compost food scraps instead of putting them into the compactor. Composting turns food scraps into fertilizer that is great for gardens, rather than letting food rot in the compactor. The bloggers at Young House Love have a great series of posts on why they choose to compost, and how it has helped reduce the amount of trash they throw away each month, even without a compactor. And for those who appreciate the appeal of composting but not the outdoor elements, BLANCO makes a high-end composting system that can be built into your countertops for an ever more seamless transition.
Trash compactors are available in freestanding and undercounter varieties. Freestanding compactors can be placed anywhere in the kitchen and typically have a flat surface on top for extra preparation space. Undercounter trash compactors are installed the same way a dishwasher or wine fridge would be installed, under the kitchen countertop and flush with the cabinets.
Trash compactors require an electric source to operate so keep this in mind when choosing where to install your appliance.
Families with young children have to keep safety in mind at all times. That is why Broan trash compactors include a special child lock key. The trash compactor will not run without the key. That way young explorers cannot accidentally turn on the compactor and injure themselves.
It should also be noted that full bags of compacted trash can be heavy. If you have back issues to the point that lifting heavy loads is hazardous and do not live with anyone that would be able to handle a heavy load, a trash compactor may not be a smart option for you.
Trash compactors come in many styles and finishes. Undercounter compactors are typically available with black or stainless steel fronts to match your appliances. Some models, like this Broan compactor, have wood front panels that match and blend into your cabinets, essentially hiding your compactor.