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What is a Motion Sensor Trash can?

By Vicki Hogue-Davies
Updated May 16, 2024
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A motion sensor trash can is a garbage receptacle that opens and closes automatically. A person putting trash in the can doesn't have to touch the can lid or even press a foot pedal. An infrared sensor built into the trash can senses movement near it within a specific range, usually a few inches. The exact number of inches varies by model and manufacturer. The lid of the can opens when the can’s sensor picks up motion near it, stays open a few seconds while garbage is placed inside and then closes automatically.

Motion sensor trash cans typically are powered by batteries. Some can be plugged into an electrical outlet. The main benefit of the motion sensor trash can is that users don't have to touch the can lid — and potentially pick up germs and bacteria — to open it, nor do they even have to step on a foot pedal. This benefit can make them a good choice for use in hospitals, medical offices and other medical facilities, as well as in homes.

Another popular feature of motion sensor trash cans is that they typically have lids that close tightly into place, helping keep odors inside. Most models come with rings to hold garbage bags in place and out of sight. They come in a variety of sizes and can be made of various materials, including stainless steel and plastic. Motion sensor trash cans also come in various colors to fit different color schemes.

Some motion sensor trash can models also have buttons or mechanisms for manual operations. Some have switches to turn off the automatic opening feature. A disadvantage of some motion sensor trash cans is that they can be too sensitive to motion, opening when a person is only passing by or is within range of the sensor. Other complaints that some people have about motion sensor trash cans is that the lid sometimes stays open after use instead of closing within a few seconds as it should. Some motion sensor trash cans also might be slower to open than others.

The motion sensor trash can might be called a touchless trash can, automatic trash can or electronic trash can. The motion sensor trash can is available at many home stores, hardware stores, big-box stores and elsewhere. They also can be found through online merchants.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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