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No foot pedal needed – just wave your hand in front of it and it’s all good. (Image: Anthony Karcz)

I don’t know what it is about summer, but at my house, the “ick” factor ramps up exponentially. It’s rare that I go for more than a couple of days without schlupping over to the trash can, hands full of something that needs to be disposed of immediately, then standing at the sink, trying desperately to get my hands soaped by using my elbows on the dispenser.

We’re not at the point yet where I can bark out orders at my kitchen and it will open lids and dispense soap (though simplehuman is working on it); but we are at the point where I can open trash cans and get a stream of foamy disinfecting soap with a wave of my hand.

Yes, I’m excited about trash bags. I honestly am. (Image: Anthony Karcz)

The simplehuman Automatic/Touchless Kitchen Trash Can ($150 Amazon) is possibly my favorite new kitchen gadget. I know, we’re talking about a trash can, how sexy can it be? The answer: more than you’d think. The nano-silver touch is antimicrobial and fingerprint proof (seriously, I’ve deliberately tried marking this thing up and can’t do it). There’s a large rim below the lid that completely hides the interior liner. I’m not a fan of proprietary anything; but the simplehuman bags are some of the strongest trash can liners I’ve ever used. The can has a special pocket inside, so you don’t have to go digging around in the pantry for a new bag. You open the can, pull out the old bag, grab a new one, and put everything back. It’s one of those little conveniences that make me grateful every time.

But what about the touch-free lid? It works. Full stop. Almost too well, since it has a tendency to whoosh open whenever I walk too close to the can. A blue LED flashes to let you know you’ve activated it, there’s a slight hum as the battery powered motor activates (still going strong a month and a half later on the original AA batteries), the lid raises, then it ratchets itself back down after a few seconds, completely silently. The lid is heavy enough to provide a nice seal on whatever nastiness you’ve dropped inside.

My previous trash can was also a simplehuman model that we bought when we first moved into the house twelve years ago. What made me want to stick with the brand was that, when the lid cracked a couple of years back, even though the can was so far out of warranty that the purchase receipt was a piece of bleached parchment, simplehuman still honored the warranty on the can and sent me all the parts I needed to fix it up as good as new. They stand behind their products and treat their customers better than any company I’ve worked with.

Unassuming, but so very important when your hands are gross. (Image: Anthony Karcz)

The other item that simplehuman sent over to complete my touch-free kitchen was a stainless finish Foam Cartridge Sensor Pump ($50 Amazon)…that’s a touch free soap dispenser to you and me. It’s a little bit brilliant. Let’s say you’ve just cut up some chicken for dinner and now your hands are covered in a salmonella-laden bacterial slurry. You go to the sink and try to get soap on your filthy hands by pressing on your old dispenser. But since you’re at a weird angle, desperately trying not to touch anything else with your Hands of Death, the soap squirts out everywhere – onto the sink, the counter, the floor, your favorite t-shirt. Out of frustration, you say “Forget it”and use your hands at which point you have to wash the dispenser as well. It’s not ideal.

If you have the sensor pump, though – now when you get to the sink, you hover your rancid digits, covered in whatever horribleness has accumulated on them, underneath the nozzle. The sensor pump dispenses a tidy pile of foam soap. You wash up and move on. OK. It’s a lot brilliant. The sensor can be fooled by accumulated dishes right underneath or big pots of boiling water being dumped into the sink; but having it be a little too sensitive is alright by me.

The sensor pump ships with a lavender soap, which I found to be too perfume-y, but there are lots of additional scents to be had (I like the Peppermint Tea Tree sample that simplehuman sent over). The cartridges are long-lasting and easy to change out. There are no batteries to mess with either – there’s a rechargeable battery with a convenient contact charger right under the lid. Not that you’ll need to worry about charging it all that often. I’ve had mine for over a month and it hasn’t slowed down yet (and our kitchen gets a lot of hand-washing traffic). It’s one of those gadgets that I’m not sure how I got along without before. I’ll be looking to add the liquid soap-dispensing model as soon as I can for dish soap.

The kitchen can be a disgusting place sometimes, but with simplehuman, you can keep it a lot cleaner. Check out the rest of the product line over at the simplehuman website or grab yours on Amazon.

Thanks to simplehuman for providing samples for this review. Opinions and disgusting messes are (unfortunately) my own.

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