How To Clean Those Smelly Outdoor Trash Cans

I think I have finally arrived! My nephew Scott (and business partner) is seeking advice from “Jillee”! lol. I received this as part of an email a few days ago…..

“My garage smells like hell right now because of those big stinky trash cans. It will get worse because its getting warmer. I thought to myself, “Jillee would know how to fix this!” :) Anything you can find?”

(If Grandma’s reading this…I’m pretty sure he meant to say “heck”.)

I have to admit I got a chuckle out of this…but then realized…he’s exactly right! I absolutely ABHOR taking out the trash to the BIG trash container outside because I can’t STAND the smell when I open the lid. I mean think about it…we put ALL our household trash in there….let in bake in the sun in a black plastic container all week until the municipal trash truck comes and takes it away. Is it any wonder it REEKS???

So after some fairly unpleasant research about garbage cans and how to clean them…here is the list/method I came up with for my nephew…but I’ll let you take a peek as well:

#1 GET THAT BIG STINKY THING OUT OF YOUR GARAGE! I realize they don’t exactly up the “curb appeal” of a house…but your garage will be a MUCH nicer place to be.

#2 The ideal time for trash can cleaning is on trash day, right after trash pickup, but if that’s not possible…just make sure you’re planning ahead and avoid putting any bags into the big container until “cleaning the can” is mission accomplished.

#3 Move the container to some place you don’t mind getting wet and somewhat soapy, the lawn would be ideal.

#4 Squirt some dishwashing liquid into the bottom of your EMPTY trash container and use a sprayer attached to a garden hose to “pressure wash” the inside of the offensive can.

#5 Pour out the soapy water and RINSE.

 

OPTIONAL:

If the can is particularly SMELLY…you might want to whip up this batch of homemade disinfectant from Household Management 101.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup of chlorine bleach
1 gallon warm water
1 tablespoon powdered laundry detergent

Directions:

Mix the ingredients in a cleaning bucket and pour into the trash container. Let sit for 15 minutes, then using a long handled scrub brush, scrub the insides of the can. Rinse with the hose, and turn it upside down in order to let all the water drain out of it.

Turn the garbage bin back around so that it is right-side up, and let it dry in the sun all day

Finally….spray the inside of the garbage bin thoroughly with a disinfectant.

You should now have a “like-new” garbage bin you can be proud of. :-)

And to KEEP it that way……

Put leftover food, fruit peels, fish heads, etc in a plastic grocery sack and throw it in the freezer until trash pick up day.

Put the trash bin in a cooler, or shady area or anywhere other than inside the garage.

 

And last, but not least…..if you can stand the smell….and you have a vehicle big enough to handle it….take the big green monster to the car wash and give it a good pressure washing!

Good Luck nephew! Hope there’s something there that is helpful.

Feel free to utilize One Good Thing By Jillee consultation service anytime.

We aim to please! ;-)


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Comments

  1. Marsha says

    My dad froze his kitchen garbage for years or at least what he didn’t compost, and, of course, his dutiful daughter does the same! Our town now does curbside recycling (YAY!) and the recycle bin gets stinky too, even though I clean out what I put in it. Thanks for this cleaning tip!

        • Tommi says

          I use the “Gilmour Nozzle Water Jet with Built-in Shut-Off
          Item #: 204693 | Model #: 06MJGF”. This little nozzle is quite inpressive for its size and price! i use it it, along with a pump garden sprayer loaded with my *”miracle house cleaner” to clean the outside of my house and my *”miracle car wash” to clean my car. It can reach to the top eaves of my second story house. The only draw back to these is that they are so small and get lost in my garage and yard if I take it off of the hose. BUT @ -$2.00 at Lowes (I am sure Home Depot has an equivalent) I usually pick up several at a time. I have let neighbors borrow them only to have them give my nozzle and I a look of “what am I supposed to do with this puny looking thing” and then turn their nose up at it. But then once they use it and experience the awesomeness of it I never get it back!

          *MIRACLE HOUSE WASH
          A 1 gallon pump type sprayer
          2-4 Cups of household Bleach (amount varies depending on how dirty an area I am cleaning)
          1-2 Capfulls of liquid laundry detergent
          12-14 cups of water

          1. Measure bleach into sprayer bottle
          2. Slowly add your water to the 1 gallon mark on your sprayer.
          3. Pour in laundry detergent.
          4. Cap the sprayer bottle tightly and shake well.
          5. Pump up the sprayer and spray on the side of house, garage door, roof, windows etc…
          6. Let sit for 5 mins and rinse off with hose that is equipped with the high pressure nozzle.
          SAFETY INFO – IMPORTANT!!!!
          - Remove pets and children from the vicinity.
          - Spray down vegetation with copious amounts of water BEFORE AND AFTER cleaning.
          - Wear protective clothing and eye protection (I usually wear white clothes, large sunglasses and a hat).

          MIRACLE CAR WASH (TOUCH FREE!!!!!!)
          This recipe is great because, unless you are washing a motor home or if your car is REALLY dirty, you won’t use the whole gallon. I keep this on hand at all times for quick washes!
          INGREDIENTS
          A 1 gallon pump type sprayer
          1 Cups of household Bleach
          2-4 Capfulls of liquid laundry detergent
          OR your favorite car wash mixed according to the directions on the bottle (ALWAYS make sure that the car wash does not contain ammonia, if it does OMIT THE BLEACH)
          12-14 cups of water

          1. Measure bleach into sprayer bottle
          2. Slowly add your water to the 1 gallon mark on your sprayer.
          3. Pour in laundry detergent.
          4. Cap the sprayer bottle tightly and shake well.
          5. Hose down entire vehicle with hose equipped with high pressure nozzle to loosen any dirt, mud, pollen or bugs.
          6. Spray down entire vehicle with “Miracle Car Wash” let sit for 5 mins (Do not let the solution dry on your vehicle).
          7. Rinse thoroughly and repeat if necessary (I have never had to repeat).
          8. (Optional) Dry entire vehicle with a soft cloth or chamoise and wax (I RARELY dry my car after I wash it and this method had left very little spots behind after it dries AND my car is BLACK)
          NOTE: The laundry detergent may remove wax…. So use Car Was Soap if you are concerned with that possibility. Household pine cleaner (Pine Sol) and *Oil Soaps (Murphy’s Oil Soap) work very well withough removing the wax, but I always have laundry detergent on hand do that’s what I use most of the time.

  2. Mary Alice says

    Arm & Hammer Carpet Fresh handles this problem quite nicely. Whenever it starts to get stinky in there, I sprinkle in some of this Carpet Fresh and that’s it. Problem solved. I keep a box of this in my garage, so it is on hand when I need it. Plain baking soda may work as well, but this in nicely scented so I prefer to use it.

  3. Jessica says

    Your blog is like a “to-do” list for me. Everytime you post a cleaning tip I go and do it and mark it off the list!!! My trash can is clean and the hubby can’t complain about diapers smelling it up any more!!

  4. April says

    Tip: My husband did this to our garbage can (I think he is a genius). You won’t want to do this if you keep your garbage can in the garage though… Only if you keep it outside. He drilled holes in the bottom :) Now if something leakes it will fertilize the grass…haha! And when I give it a wash it will drain and dry out without me having to tip the big ‘ol thing!

  5. LeaveASmallerFootprint says

    Did you really just suggest putting bleach in your yard? Even diluted bleach is not going to be good for your grass. (Straight bleach will kill grass on contact, you can watch it happen on a sunny day, takes minutes. If I’m not mistaken, you can see it in the picture you posted– most of your yard looks green, the grass in front of the trash can where the water poured out is already browning.) Not so hot for the environment either for it to go floating down the driveway and into a storm drain killing who knows how many organisms. This might get the smell out of your trash can, but the environmental impact is a bigger price than I’m willing to pay. And to think you posted this on Earth Day weekend…. smh Jillie, I’m usually a fan, but this one is off the mark.

    • D. Harrington says

      I disagree with you. I have been to http://www.clorox.com and have read about their bleach. I use Clorox Bleach for a number of cleaning tasks. It says “Household bleach begins and ends as salt water in a fully sustainable cycle.” “Bleach degrades primarily into salt and water and the remaining 2 percent to 5 percent is effectively treated by municipal waste water treatment plants or septic systems. No bleach gets to the environment.” ” Once diluted, bleach breaks down quickly-mainly into salt and water.” “Bleach does not contaminate ground water because it does not survive sewage treatment – either in municipal sewage treatment plants or in septic systems. Thus, there are no harmful effects of bleach in the environment.” Her recipe dilutes the bleach, I don’t see how it harms anything.

  6. Jess says

    I pour two scoops of kitty litter in my mine each week and it really does the trick! I suppose it’s also along the same lines of the baking soda and powdered carpet cleaner though. It absorbs the smells and gets emptied right along with the trash when they pick it up. It’s a win-win for me because I don’t know if I can bring myself to actually scrub my can. Yikes!

  7. Lois says

    My husband has always strapped the can to the top of the car or van (we recently bought a truck YAY!) and drove it down to the car wash and uses the wand. He’s gone for 20 minutes, spends a couple bucks and comes back with a sweet smelling can. The force of the wand is strong no need to crawl in and scrub off any leftovers, damage the grass, or worse yet have to pick ickiness off the lawn.

  8. says

    We have been in the trash can cleaning business in Orange County, California for over 5 years and started the business because of the enviromental impact of cleaning these cans. There is a misconception that because a product is “biodegradeable” or “environmentally friendly” it can be safely disposed of in our waterways. It takes soil to degrade these products; therefore, all cleaning products, including biodegradable products, should be disposed of at least 200 feet away from any water source, including our storm drains. More information can be found at http://occleanacan.com/biodegradable-does-not-mean-environmentally-friendly/ and http://occleanacan.com/trash-bins-impacting-our-environment/

  9. Athena Qin says

    We are leading manufactory who supply outdoor litter bins and advertising dustbin with good quality and competitive price, the litter bins are used at street, park, travel place, housing estate, etc, and the advertising dustbins are used for both propagating the advertisement and collecting the litters. I think they will be received by you, We hope to be a partner of your company.
    Email me if you are interested in us, and detailed we will discuss by email, thank you.

  10. Athena Qin says

    We are leading manufactory who supply outdoor litter bins and advertising dustbin with good quality and competitive price, the litter bins are used at street, park, travel place, housing estate, etc, and the advertising dustbins are used for both propagating the advertisement and collecting the litters. I think they will be received by you, We hope to be a partner of your company.
    Email me if you are interested in us, and detailed we will discuss by email, thank you.
    emai: athenaqin110@yahoo.cn

  11. Nancy says

    How about hauling the can to your curb, then using a garden sprayer shoot straight clorox all around the sides. Let sit 5 to 10 minutes. Scrub sides with a prickly broom, fill with water being sure to douse sides of can. Pour out, rinse again, scrub and repeat. Then let dry in sun. You can also buy 96 gallon trash bags which fit the standard residential wheeled cans. Google it. Although they are $1 apiece, 55 gallon drum liners can be hooked to one side of your bin with a clothespin. Every bag of kitchen trash goes in the liner giving you double protection and lengthening time between cleanings. Teach the kids how to do it and they will be more careful taking out the garbage-Another thing to consider is neighborhood covenants: some do not allow you to place your trashcan outside! Like mine, it must be kept in the garage. Jus’ sayin….

  12. says

    We had the same problem and my wife solved it by getting these big garbage basg that fits the large trash cans. After using them all last summer and fall we have the proble solved with smelling trash can. Every time the garbage is removed so is the large plastic bag used as a liner for the trash can. It was not easy to find those large 100 gallon bags but they are available and you can see them here http://biggarbagebags.net
    Hope you all get a non smelling garbage….

  13. Amy Wilkins says

    We live in a neighborhood where we have no grass, just patios and planting beds. So any type of cleaning that needs to be done outside, like our very stinky trash can, is nearly impossible. But I would have never thought to bring the trash can to carwash!! We have guest coming in town tomorrow and I am embarrassed of our trash can that’s parked very close to our front door. It’s going for a ride in my husbands truck tonight :-) Thank you for your post!

  14. KC says

    Another tip: We drilled a few small holes into the bottom of our trash can. We have to keep it our doors and sometimes the trash leaks or the lid isn’t perfectly aligned so rain gets in. Occaionally, possums get in and chew open a bag. All THAT is what stinks. I’ve found the trash to be much cleaner/dryer since the holes were drilled. Do about 8 small holes or so. That way, if 1-2 get clogged it will still drain. I still have to soak it with bleach or something on occasion, but not as often.
    TIP: When you soak it in bleach or detergent, be sure and either pour the chemical water onto a weed infested area, to help I’ll weeds, OR pour it onto an area that has a little mildew or dirt build up, to help clean it. MULTI-TASKING cleansers are cool!

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