How To Keep Your Trash Can From Smelling

This is a followup to last week’s frugal challenge that involved cleaning your kitchen trash can. HBHW reader Susan asked the following question in a comment.

I get tired of the smell from trash can, is there a good way to eliminate it?

trash can with a plastic bag insideGreat question, and yes there are actually several…

1) Take your trash out frequently. The best way to insure this happens is to get an appropriately sized trash can. If you live by yourself, opt for a small one. The goal here is to get yourself to take out the garbage at least every other day.

2) If you are throwing something out that you know will smell (like meat that’s about to go bad, or a carton of expired eggs), double bag it using plastic grocery store bags before you toss it in the trash. We also did this for poopy disposable diapers when our daughter was an infant. Worked great and there was no need for one of those fancy diaper genies.

3) If your trash can still smells after you take out the garbage, it’s time to give it a good scrubbing with a mixture of water and bleach. I mix 1 gallon of water with 2 cups of bleach and let it set in the trash can for a while. Next I use brush to scrub the sides of the trash can. This is best done outside by the way.

4) Sprinkle a little baking soda in the bottom of your trash can. It will help eliminate some of the odor. It’s also a good idea to sprinkle some more as the trash starts to get funky.

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10 Responses to “How To Keep Your Trash Can From Smelling”

  1. Amiyrah Says:

    For those that are adverse to using bleach(because of little ones around or it effects your sinuses), white vinegar works just as well, if not better.

  2. tye Says:

    Double bagging in plastic ensures that the trash will live on for a hundred years. Just take the stinky stuff to the outside garbage can or better yet, invest in a garbage disposal or save organic scraps for a compost pile. Also…2 cups a bleach for a gallon of water is wayyyyyyyyyyyyy too much bleach! A couple cap fulls is plenty…and like one of your readers said, vinegar is just as effective for sanitizing and deodorizing, and not toxic like bleach is.

  3. Sandra Says:

    I have a trash compactor and find it difficult to clean. One side sorta comes open so one can get the bag out easier. Do you have any tips that will help in cleaning? It wont hold water, so I cant let it set like you suggest. Thank you for all of your tips, they really do make a difference!

  4. DES Says:

    I’ve also used vinegar (course I use it for alot of cleaning). I also put the arm n hammer carpet fresh stuff on the bottom of the can (has the baking soda & a bit of scent).

    Course we have the giant Big Brute can…so I have to do this often (yep…its a Big Brute stinker in my kitchen )

    Thanks for all your helpful tips…I love reading your blog!


  5. Tasha Says:

    I like to use a splash of Dr. Bronner’s (peppermint or orange is what I have) and spoonful of Borax.

  6. Charity Says:

    I also have used bleach, but only a small amount. You only need about a small splash to get the garbage can clean. I have used vinegar as well. Either one works. I also wash my kitchen garbage can outdoors with the garden hose and a toilet brush. It only takes a few minutes to do this.

    Instead of throwing all that food into plastic bags which fill our landfills, when I am cleaning out the fridge here is what I do. I line the kitchen sink with several layers of newspaper. I then dump all the food scraps into the sink and allow all the liquids to drain through the newspapers. I then take the newspaper and roll it all up into a tight bundle. I stick it on a place or in a dishpan and walk it outside to the compost pile. Then, I have no stinky garbage inside the house and my compost pile has more food for the worms living inside of it.

    Viola! problem solved ;)

  7. FrugalQue Says:

    One more vinegar fan here. The good thing about vinegar is that if you are cleaning out the garbage can outside, then you can pour the waste water on plants that love acidity (roses, rhodys, blueberries, etc). Since you are using only a little vinegar and quite a bit more water, it is already a good dilution for the plants.

    One more frugal idea is that you can make vinegar and never have to buy it again. Super simple and very cheap.

    I do almost the same as Charity. I have a bucket with me when I clean the refrigerator and I just dump everything (and I mean every type of food) into the bucket and put it in my compost pile. Cover it well in the compost pile and there is no smell.

    The only thing that I have found that smells in my garbage is those styrofoam meat plates. My solution is to do a quick wash of them in some vinegar water and that totally eliminates the smell.

  8. Dan Says:

    I put food waste items that are prone to stinking in a bag in the freezer. My wife thought I was crazy when she saw me do it for the first time, but she’s a convert now. Of course, you need to have enough freezer capacity to handle it, but if you do, it’s great! Just don’t forget to take the bag out of the freezer on trash day.

  9. Tada Says:

    It figures that a man would come up with the best answer when it comes to kitchen issues! :)

  10. tony Says:

    if u have dog ,feed your food scraps to your dog not your trash can,i know that a lot of people don’t like giving there dog scraps but i do.

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