Winner: Glad Forceflex Tall Kitchen BagsHow it performed: This 13-gallon bag is surprisingly hardy for its size and light weight: It held just as heavy a load as the winning 45-gallon trash bag did. The embossed diamond pattern gives the ForceFlex extra elasticity, helping it stretch around pointy things without tearing―meaning that you can trash the boxes after the pizza party without worrying about tomato sauce dribbling onto the kitchen floor or, even worse, your shoes. Drawstring handles help you keep smelly kitchen refuse at bay.
Runner-up: Hefty CinchSak Ultra Tall Kitchen BagsHow it performed: The fact that it's thicker than the other kitchen bags tested (1.1 mils, versus 0.9 or less) helps explain why the 13-gallon Hefty CinchSak held more weight than any of them―though it fell behind the winner in other tests. You may not appreciate the drawstring handles with heavy loads, since they stretch under the weight and dig into your fingers, but they are convenient with lighter loads.
2 of 4Joe Scafuro
Best Extra Large Bags
Winner: Husky Extra Large Trash BagsHow it performed: At 45 gallons, versus the typical 30, this bag is big enough to handle volume―a good feature, since you’re always trying to cram in just one more thing (OK, 10) before you close up that twist tie. Tests proved it can also take the weight and the abuse with nary a poked hole or a split up the seams. So unless you’ve thrown in an anvil, the trip to the end of the driveway is sure to be disaster-free. Drawstring handles are iffy when you’re packing weight, so the Husky wisely closes with a tie.
Runner-up: Hefty CinchSak Ultra Large Trash BagsHow it performed: This was a close contest. In fact, this 30-gallon trash bag actually held more weight than the bigger Husky bag did, thanks to its ultra-thickness (1.3 mils―other bags were as thin as 0.5 mil). Although it fared slightly less well than the winner when Real Simple took it on the (rocky) road, it far surpassed all the other bags. The Hefty has drawstring handles, with all their pluses and minuses.
3 of 4Joe Scafuro
Best Lawn and Leaf Bags
Winner: Hefty CinchSak Heavy Duty Clean-Up BagsHow it performed: The sharp branches that destroy most lawn bags won’t poke holes in this 39-gallon powerhouse’s composure. And pile in all the wet grass clippings you like (within reason, of course) without fear of either seepage or the bottom dropping out. The drawstring is great for yard work. After raking a lawnful of leaves, who wants to search for a twist tie?
Runner-up: Husky Premium Recycled Yard BagsHow it performed: Recycled-plastic bags are generally less sturdy than regular bags, but this leaf wrangler performs beautifully under pressure. The one drawback that emerged in Real Simple’s rigorous testing conditions was a tendency to leak―so if you tend to drop your leaf bags onto pavement from a five-foot height, consider yourself warned. The bag closes with a twist tie or a knot.
4 of 4Joe Scafuro
Best Earth-Friendly Bags
Increasingly, recycled trash bags are making their way into grocery stores, and for good reason. More energy is consumed and more pollutants are emitted by factories producing virgin-plastic items than by those of companies that make recycled-plastic bags, such as Seventh Generation, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Also, our petroleum resources are depleted more slowly. And while no plastic biodegrades, recycled bags get at least one more use before taking up space in a landfill. In Real Simple’s road test, only one recycled bag stood up well to real abuse, but for lightweight rubbish, most recycled bags do the job. Even more ecofriendly is paper, which does biodegrade. Some curbside recycling programs now insist on recycled-paper lawn and leaf bags, like Home Depot’s freestanding one.