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5 Tips to Clean a Stinky Trash Bin…and Keep it That Way

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Stinky garbage is a topic most of us would like to avoid. We all produce garbage, lots of it. According to the EPA Americans produce nearly 300 million tons a year! Of course, your trash bin at home doesn’t hold that much, but the waste you produce has to be stored somewhere while you wait for trash pick-up day. 

The reality is that your trash receptacles stink! Literally – the smell of old food, sticky messes, and wadded-up paper towels can be awful. Check out our previous post to understand what the smell really means. 

Gross trash cans (especially the outdoor garbage bins) might not be your favorite topic to discuss, but you likely want to make the stink stop. Like most problems, there is a solution. And like most solutions, it does take maintenance. A dirty trash bin can be cleaned, but it’s important to take steps to keep it that way.

Let’s review some tips for stopping the smell before it starts and for cleaning stinky trash cans.

1. Don’t throw loose items in the outdoor trash can.

Trash bags were created for a reason – to hold your trash in place. While it can be tempting to toss that cheeseburger wrapper into the outside bin, this can lead to sticky messes and food smells that attract flies. What do flies mean? Maggots. Yes, this is a gross topic, but the reality is that dirty trash bins are prime insect breeding grounds. Do yourself a favor, avoid a maggot infestation and consolidate your waste in bags before you place it in the outside trash can.

If you end up with a maggot infestation (gross!) it might be necessary to get professional pest control.  In the meantime, check out tips for managing on your own here. But remember, try and stop the problem before it starts by keeping your bins clean!

2. Seal your trash bags before you throw them.

Placing each piece of trash in a bag is excellent…but not if the bag gets tossed into a larger bin without being sealed! This will result in food and waste falling out of the bag defeating the purpose of containing it to begin with. Of course, a well-sealed trash bag means you don’t want to overstuff it. A bag busting at the seams with your stinky trash could do exactly that – bust at the seams! The whole idea is to contain your waste and the stinky smell.

Open bags let the smell of food out which attracts animals and insects. We all want to avoid waking to our trash strewn across the lawn by a raccoon or bear who is tempted by the smell. Animals getting into your trash is not only a pain to clean up, but it’s dangerous for wildlife as well. Once an animal has found a food source they will often return which means they get used to humans and could become a risk to public safety. Check with your local wildlife commission to learn more about living with animals. 

Keep it all contained by not over-filling, then seal it properly. Most bags cinch closed with a tight knot on top. Others can be sealed with a twisty tie or folded into a knot. Doesn’t matter how you do it, but keep the top closed to avoid escaping smells.

3. Try baking soda at the bottom of the trash can.

Despite your best efforts, trash can still be stinky. Simple products like baking soda or cat litter can help eliminate odors. How? Chemistry. We won’t dive into the details here but it comes down to sodium bicarbonate (that’s what baking soda is). This chemical compound neutralizes smelly acids. Not only that, but baking soda and cat litter absorb moisture, reducing stinky smells.

Try putting half a cup of baking soda in the bottom of your trash cans or cover the bottom with cat litter. Of course, you’ll need to throw away and replace the cat litter every few months. This trick effectively combats bad odor in both your outside trash bins and the inside cans.  

4. Scrub your trash bins with vinegar and dish soap.

Even if you’ve used the tips above, trash bins will get dirty at one point or another. Scrubbing garbage bins on your own will require some serious elbow grease. Try a DIY cleaning solution of warm water, vinegar, and dish soap to thoroughly clean the bin with a heavy-duty scrub brush. 

Since garbage bins can be large you will need an extendable brush to get to the bottom or you may have to tip it over and crawl to reach inside (yuck!). After scrubbing, rinse thoroughly with a hose. 

Bleach or heavy-duty cleaners are an option for major filth but remember you’ll be rinsing those cleaners off for the final step. You likely don’t want toxic chemicals on your lawn. In fact, dumping bleach into storm drains is illegal in some states due to the pollution it causes in our waterways.

5. Have your trash bins cleaned by a professional.

If scrubbing your stinky trash by hand sounds like a miserable way to spend your afternoon (it should) then leave it to the professionals. 

A service such as Bins Be Clean has the right cleaning equipment for the job. They will turn the bins upside down and spray them with 180-degree high-pressure water. No harsh chemicals are used, and the dirty water is all contained in the truck, so a sparkly clean bin is all you will see when finished. Plus, this all happens at your curb – right after your trash is picked up, so you don’t have to leave the comfort of your home.

A garbage bin cleaning service saves you time and leaves your bins exceptionally clean. This means less maintenance, and most importantly, no more stinky smells!

The bottom line when it comes to stinky garbage bins…

Trash is part of life, and so are the odors it produces. But stinky smells and dirty bins can be managed! 

Contact Bins Be Clean today to learn how to take your trash bins from stinky to sparkling. Monthly service gets you the most bang for your buck, but there is the option to clean quarterly or even a one-time cleaning option. 

Get those garbage bins clean and then keep them that way!


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