The One Kitchen Cleaning Staple I Sneak into Costco to Buy

published Jun 27, 2023
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AUSTIN, TEXAS - AUGUST 29 2017: the front of a Costco store just a minute after opening
Credit: Philip Arno Photography/Shutterstock

In my 20 years of living on my own, I’m pretty sure I’ve tested out every single trash bag on the market. There were the free-with-groceries Winn-Dixie and Kroger plastic grocery bags I used during college, the super-thin dollar-store rolls, and the white bags with the four corner flaps that tie together into a nicely sealed package. (The latter were truly a treat, but I didn’t generate enough trash to make it worth the couple extra bucks.)

My ex-husband was a bit more particular — he liked the bags with the drawstring ties that cinched at the top. As our shared fortunes grew, so did our standard for a high-quality trash bag. We graduated to scented trash bags, tried the ones that stretch to theoretically accommodate odd-sized packaging, and supposedly leak-proof and tear-resistant reinforced bags that were priced at a premium. 

Some were fine; others were terrible. One brand was so flimsy, it couldn’t even grip the sides of my 13-gallon kitchen trash can (which even has the “hidden bag” feature designed to hold them in place). One name brand kept ripping instead of stretching, and another’s fragrance showed zero lasting power.

Just as I started thinking that maybe all trash bags were, well, kind of trash, I inadvertently (and quite accidentally) stumbled upon the one — a garbage bag that sparks joy every time I whip one open. One that makes me feel like all of the tears, spills, and bad smells were worth it because they helped me appreciate the perfect trash bag. (And yes, I know how silly all of this sounds.) So which trash bag am I now in a committed relationship with? None other than Costco’s Kirkland Signature Scented Kitchen Drawstring Bags — one of the absolute best Costco cleaning products you can find.

What’s So Great About Kirkland Signature Trash Bags?

Allow me to preface that I don’t have a Costco membership. Unfortunately, I don’t buy enough in bulk to break even on the savings. I tagged along with my cousin once and bought a box of these bags, laughing all the way to checkout at his passionate recommendation: “They’re just really good!”

Credit: Su-Jit Lin

And he was right! Once a year, I sneak in on the heels of my card-touting family members and friends just to buy these impeccable trash bags. Here’s what makes them so perfect.

  • Their 13-gallon size.
  • They’re reinforced with Flex-Tech technology, so you can pile more into them than most of the same size.
  • The Flex-Tech is similar to the expandable bubble patterns built into many premium trash bags, but the Kirkland subtle diamond shape stretches out significantly, which decreases the chance of oddly shaped items (looking at you, plastic clamshell containers) ripping right through it. 
  • The bubbly material doesn’t feel as thin as competitors’.
  • The double-thick, non-flex tops. There’s a good four inches of denser, less pliant plastic framing the body of the bag, which prevents it from tearing when you fold it over your bin — something that really frustrated me with more expensive name-brand bags. 
  • The orange drawstring helps keep the bag secure in the can. Not only is it a generous inch-wide ribbon of decently thick plastic (which also means it’s less painful around your fingers when you carry it), but it’s also designed to contract around the bin, pinching it close. This means no ugly overlapping overhang, as it gets pulled taut. My kitchen garbage can is a semi-round one, so it can be a challenge for some bags to offer enough give to handle the widest part. Others are too loose at the rounded front. This Goldilocks bag adapts to the can shape seamlessly. 
Credit: Su-Jit Lin
  • The handy, clearly visible notches for pulling the strings. These make the bags easier to grab, and you can use them to whip the bag open. 
  • The “Fresh Scent” smells clean — not chemical-y, and no artificial fake lemon or floral aroma. 
  • Even the box design is great, and built for space-saving storage and easy dispensing. These rolls are set up so that when you pull one out, in tissue-box or wet wipe-style, the next one separates from the roll for effortless grabbing — no need to struggle to find the top of the roll every time you reach for a new bag. 

Lasting for a whopping 200 garbage days (!), I only have to spend $20-ish on these bags about once every year-and-a-half. At 11 cents a bag, this is a premium product at a throwaway price. Run, don’t walk. (And if you don’t have a Costco membership either, you can still buy them at Amazon for 17 cents per bag.)

Find it in stores/Buy: Kirkland Signature Flex-Tech 13-Gallon Kitchen Trash Bags, $21.49 for 200