What Should I Know About Cleaning Trash Cans?

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  • Written By: Nychole Price
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2019
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Many people rarely think about cleaning their trash cans, despite the fact that they are one of the filthiest items in the house. Old food contaminates trash cans, causing bacteria to develop. This bacteria often emits a nasty odor that can spread throughout the house. However, cleaning trash cans regularly can prevent these odors.

Scrub the trash can, inside and out, at least once a week. Fill the trash can with hot water and bleach. Allow it to soak for at least an hour to loosen caked-on food, then scrub it inside and out. Rinse thoroughly and air dry. Disinfectant spray can remove any bacteria that remains after cleaning trash cans.

Cleaning trash cans also involves preventing odors. This can be done by placing baking soda in the bottom of the trash cans, under the liner. Spreading the baking soda thickly will help improve the odor absorption. Replace the baking soda weekly, after cleaning trash cans out.

If, after cleaning trash cans, the smell still remains, try using scented trash can liners to cover it up. Trash can liners are available in vanilla, rose, pine, and lavender scents, as well as many others. It is still recommended that you clean the trash can regularly because, although the smell is covered up, the bacteria that causes it remains.


Carpet powder, when placed under the trash can liners, will also disguise any odors. Sprinkle the carpet powder on the bottom of the trash can, after cleaning it thoroughly. Carpet powder that contains baking soda will absorb odors and also add a pleasant fragrance.

The use of trash can liners on a regular basis can prevent future odors. They trap food and trash, preventing it from making contact with the trash can itself. Take the trash out as soon as it is full to prevent an overflow.

Food such as raw meat, fish and old vegetables should be tied up in a leak-proof bag before being disposed of. This will prevent a lingering odor that will likely remain after cleaning trash cans. Dirty diapers should also be bagged individually if possible, as the smell will spread through the house.

Clean the outside of the trash can daily, with the regular household chores, to remove bacteria caused by foods. Use a disinfectant cleaner and a damp cloth to wipe down the top and sides of the trash can. Follow up with a disinfectant spray.


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Post 3

@minthybear19 - Lemon juice and vodka is a good choice for cleaning. I use orange juice myself. I'm a little bit of a clean freak -- so I've always washed my garbage can every week. I cook a lot of meat and the scraps start smelling by the end of the day – so I have to clean the garbage can too.

If you, or anyone else for that matter, use bleach spray -- make sure to have a window open. Bleach can be dangerous in small or badly ventilated places. I don't know if lemon and orange are as effective as bleach, but they are definitely safer.

Post 2

@ElbowTickle - I tried bleach spray too, but the smell gets to me almost as much as the stinky garbage can did! I did house cleaning for awhile and had to quit because of the bleach bothering my lungs.

I use plain dish soap now and then spray the garbage can with my organic cleaning solution. I take a gallon of water, dump out a little and add a cup of lemon juice and a shot of vodka. Shake it and put it in spray bottles.

It smells nice and fresh -- plus it gets rid of ants and fleas.

Post 1

Honestly, I don't know why this never occurred to me before. Every time I change the bag, I spray the inside lightly with bleach spray -- but I never thought to scrub it weekly. It seems like something that everyone should just know to do, I guess.

I've actually thrown out a garbage can before because it got so disgusting from a leaky bag that I gagged when I tried to clean it. My sink isn't very big, so I can just submerge it and let it soak like the little garbage cans. I have to drag it outside and hose it out with dish soap and hot water.

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