Knowing how to clean trash cans properly goes a long way toward eliminating odors and household pests.
Whether the source is last night’s leftovers or residue accumulated in your kitchen bin over months, you can rest assured household visitors smell it, too.
How To Clean Trash Cans
This task should be done at least once a month, or any time you find a mess in the bottom of the bin. Follow this method to clean diaper pails, too, though I’d recommend cleaning those weekly.
- Rubber Gloves
- Scrub brush
- Cleaning rags
- Hot water
- White vinegar
- Dish soap
1. Put on the gloves: Garbage cans are full of nasty and sometimes dangerous bacteria. Wear reusable rubber gloves and launder them in hot water after use.
2. Work outside: In a pinch, you can wash trash cans in a sink or tub, but then you absolutely must clean and disinfect right away. Washing trash cans outside skips that extra effort.
3. Empty the can and remove as much gunk as possible using rags or paper towels. Hose it out to remove the first layer of grime.
4. Scrub with the long-handled brush. Rinse and repeat until you’ve removed the food stains and spills.
5. Soak it. Add 2 gallons of hot water to the trashcan and pour in 2 cups white vinegar plus 1 tablespoon of dish soap. Using the long-handled brush again, swirl the vinegar solution around the interior of the can, wetting down every surface. Allow this to sit 20-30 minutes.
6. Dump it out in the gutter or down the drain. Do NOT dump it on your plants or lawn since vinegar can kill them.
7. Rinse and sun-dry the empty garbage can to help kill remaining germs and bacteria.
How to Keep Trash Cans Clean
Sprinkle a little baking soda in the bottom of the trash can when you change the bag. Baking soda is an inexpensive, natural deodorizer that’s also great at absorbing spills. Dump it out before cleaning the bin.
Use newspapers to catch leaks. If you’re using baking soda to deodorize, sprinkle it on top of the newspaper. On trash day, gather the corners and toss the mess before adding a fresh newspaper for the next week.
Don’t buy cheap kitchen trash bags. In the kitchen, trash bags that resist tears and help control odors are a must, so buy the thickest ones you can find. They’re absolutely worth it.
Line wastebaskets, too. You don’t need high-quality trash bags in bathrooms or bedrooms, though — just repurpose plastic grocery bags instead.