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3 Effective Ways To Prevent Garbage Can Odors

Avoid A Stinky Garbage Can

I’m not arguing that trash should smell great, but it sure stinks (pun intended) to have distinctly unpleasant odors emanating from your garbage can! And to add insult to injury, the odor often lingers in the kitchen even after you’ve removed the offending garbage bag. :-(

Luckily, we don’t have to resign ourselves to a lifetime of dealing with trash odor. In fact, there are 3 steps you can take to avoid a stinky garbage can, and none of them are particularly difficult or time-consuming!

So for the sake of our noses and the overall aroma of our homes, let’s talk trash!

3 Effective Ways To Avoid A Stinky Garbage Can

Avoid A Stinky Garbage Can

1. Beware The Worst Offenders

Certain things are almost guaranteed to make your garbage smell funky after a while, like seafood and produce scraps. The way you handle these items can help prevent them from stinking up the rest of the trash!

One way to deal with the worst offenders is skip the garbage can and take them directly to your compost bin, outdoor garbage can, or dumpster. Alternatively, you could wrap the worst offenders in something that will help trap the odor, like a bag or some food wrap. (Ideally you would use something that you were going to throw away anyway to avoid unnecessary waste!)

Avoid A Stinky Garbage Can

2. Use Odor Absorbers

In addition to preventing odor by addressing the worst offenders, use odor absorbing materials to keep your garbage fresh. Learn how to make your own deodorizer disks here, then keep one in the bottom of your garbage can to help control odor over time.

Other effective odor absorbers include baking soda, ground coffee, and kitty litter. Sprinkle a handful of one of them into the bottom of your garbage can, and if you have issues with moisture, you may want to line the bottom of the can with newspaper too.

Avoid A Stinky Garbage Can

3. Keep The Can Clean

The final piece of the odor prevention puzzle is to thoroughly clean your garbage can regularly. A solution of equal parts water and white vinegar is all you need to eliminate odors and freshen up even the funkiest garbage can!

If you or your family is sensitive to the smell of plain white vinegar, I recommend trying out my scented cleaning vinegar instead! It leaves behind a fresh, citrus-y scent, which always screams “clean!”

How do you prevent or eliminate garbage can odors in your home?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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Homekeeping Tips

  • Our waste company has introduced composting in the new year. They provided a countertop bin to collect food waste and then dump it into a designated outdoor trash bin. How do you keep from attracting unwanted insects, besides emptying it nightly and rinsing it out? Is kitty litter compostable? I like the idea of using cinnamon to ward off ants. Any other suggestions from you or your readers? Thank you!

  • Have a garden? Even a few pots on a balcony – flowers? Compost those salad or vegetable trimmings. If you have a yard, you don’t really even need an enclosure! It could be just an out-of-the-way corner that you dumped your scraps in. No meat or fat though, or you’ll attract vermin! Oh yes, you’ll get bugs! Hopefully worms! That’s what breaks down those food scraps into lovely compost. Don’t be afraid to add some shredded napkins or small twigs that you break up, or a few handfuls of cut grass, depending on how big your pile is. Up to 1/2 of your pile should be made up of “browns” as they are called. You can even use the hair from your hairbrush! After awhile the bottom of your pile should be all crumbly and look kind of like – dirt! That’s when you can put it on your plants to make use of all that lovely compost you made.

    Oh, if you don’t want to mess with compost yourself, check around in your neighborhood and see if anyone else happens to have a garden and would like your scraps. You just might be surprised who would be happy to take them off your hands, and out of the landfill.

  • Yup, I’m with the “freeze the garbage” group. I have two cats, so the cat tins even once they’ve been rinsed are never quite clean enough and I hate to waste water washing garbage, so I rinse and toss in the freezer until garbage day.
    Also someone here mentioned tossing chicken bones in the freezer, I do that as well and once I have enough, I make a broth in the slow cooker for my furry companions…they love it!

  • I keep a small produce bag or even a plastic bag from a store inside a small plastic container for food scraps. When it’s full, I pop it into the freezer until trash day.

  • I keep a cotton ball ball soaked in essential oil clipped to the top of the can. It keeps everything smelling fresh. I also make sure to ziploc anything that could potentially smell bad. I have a bag of used, but washed out, bags just for this purpose.,

  • I have been freezing ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that can induce vomiting odors in household trash for 40 years. Avoid it. Don’t have to fix it afterward. Throw frozen trash out on scheduled pick up day. You will have no foul smells in your home, or in your kitchen where it is most offensive. It is a no brainer. Avoid it altogether!!

    • Quite a few people have said this about freezing garbage so there is no smell in the house and just throwing it out come trash day! I thought I was the only one loool.

  • Oops, I forgot…… I also freeze offending “garbage” like chicken bones, skins, etc. by putting it in the freezer til trash day. I have not experienced a foul odor in the freezer from this.

  • Take the time to rinse out containers……. milk, yogurt, sour cream, tuna, coffee grounds etc. I also have a “no food” rule in my house for the garbage can. Food and scraps either go down the garbage disposal or outside to feed the bunnies that live in my juniper bushes; now there’s a win/win.

    • Maryellen, I do the same things. Rinsing out containers before putting them in the garbage can only takes a couple of minutes, but oh what a difference it makes. I put leftover veggies,such as corn, peas, beans carrots, etc. in pint size ziplocks marked for soup in the freezer. Then when I have enough bags saved up, I make a big pot full of vegetable soup. We also throw a lot of leftovers out to our chickens or into the compost bin for our garden. Any other leftover garbage, like chicken bones, pork bones and especially seafood ( shrimp shells, crab shells or lobster shells) go in a gallon ziplock & stay in the freezer util garbage day. I know that you can put dishes into the dishwasher with food scraps still on them, but I prefer to rinse the dishes off so they don’t cause unpleasant odors. With just two people, it takes a while to fill up the dishwasher, so the food would get really stuck on the dishes & hard to completely be washed away. I usually end up washing the dishes by hand most of the time…………..the warm water feels good on old arthritic hands ! :)

      • Renee, I agree w/ everything you said…… I too always rinse dishwasher dishes for the same reasons. Sometimes when people see me rinsing cartons, jars, containers, etc. they get a very puzzled look and ask “are you washing trash?” I get a chuckle:)

  • After thoroughly cleaning the garbage bin, I now use two plastic bags, one inside the other.

    That way, if the first bag leaks, I can use the secondary bag as the first bag for this week’s garbage. I add a new second bag under it to line the bin.

    Also, I second that everything is so much better when you can compost the bad stuff.

  • If you have room, freezing the stinky stuff works too. An empty 1/2 gallon milk or orange juice carton can be opened from the top to contain everything. Pack it down tight and fold the top down to minimize odor, and you can add to it during the week. There may be a slight odor when you open the freezer, but it’s worth not worrying about rodents all year round and maggots during the really hot weather!

    • I’ve never heard of anyone else doing this! My mom started doing it years ago and so when I got my own place I did it to and it is so great!! No yucky smells.

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