“Somebody has to be making Simplehuman generic bags,” I said to my husband as I scrolled Amazon results in search of liners to fit the trash can in our kitchen.
This was Peak 2020 cleaning-supply shortage, just a few months into our COVID lockdown. Our trash was constantly overflowing with Clorox wipes and other kitchen debris. The last thing I wanted to worry about was trash bags, but the Simplehuman-specific bags I’d had on subscription for years were suddenly out of stock everywhere—and I was suddenly very annoyed with our fancy trash receptacle.
Trash cans aren’t usually aren’t considered “fancy,” but when we closed on our Kansas City bungalow in 2013, we knew it was time to upgrade some of our most basic housewares. Armed with a crinkly blue 20% off coupon, we headed to Bed Bath & Beyond for new shower curtains, doormats for all three of our exterior doors, and a trash can our beagle mix couldn't breach. We felt very adult when we decided to splurge on a stainless steel butterfly can with a pedal from the brand Simplehuman. But the real splurge, we agreed, was the pricey pack of corresponding bags.
It’s widely accepted—and backed up by Epi product testing—that Simplehuman makes some of the best trash cans money can buy. Part of what makes Simplehuman so appealing is that for every size and style of receptacle they make, there’s a liner that will fit perfectly. With 26 different “custom fit liners” coded A through Z, this system takes the guesswork and struggle out of stretching a standard bag around the rim of any particular can. It’s also a brilliant way for the brand to keep making money off of its customers.
And the Simplehuman bags are really good. For years we tried to make whatever tall kitchen bags were on sale at Target fit onto our cheap plastic bin and it was always a bit of a struggle. Fitting a Code K bag on our new Simplehuman can was so…simple. I felt a little sticker shock every time I ordered refills, but I eventually put them on subscription so I could ignore it just like the rest of my financial problems.
Seven years and two kids later, we’d grown accustomed to a certain waste disposal lifestyle. But then COVID supply chain issues made our bags impossible to find.
The upside? A temporary shortage of Simplehuman bags did lead me to Plasticplace, a brand offering a comparable alternative at about half the price. The Plasticplace bags even used Simplehuman’s A-to-Z code system. The reviews on Amazon for these Simplehuman generic bags were mostly good, and unless we wanted to go back to random tall kitchen bags, we didn’t have much choice. So I ordered a box of 50 and was pleasantly surprised by the fit and quality. The new bags never ripped, no matter what I shoved into our kitchen trash during my anxiety-fueled cleaning sprees.
Before we were halfway through the box, I canceled my Simplehuman bag subscription and made the official switch to Plasticplace. I haven’t looked back since.
Like nearly everything, my generic Simplehuman bags have gone up in price since 2020, but certain sizes still cost 20¢ to 30¢ less per bag than the name brand when bought in bulk. So even with inflation, we don’t have to give up on the trash can that’s stoically seen us through the past nine years.