Clean Trash Cans

clean the trashcanOr garbage cans, or rubbish bins, or whatever you call them in your particular region….

This is not a sexy post, but the goal is to make this nasty job easier so you can have more time for the fun stuff.

The first thing is prevention- how do we do our best to keep the rubbish bin clean in the first place? Well, you reduce your waste as much as possible, but you probably already know that, and even already do that. So what else?

Don’t throw wet stuff away- rinse out cans and smash them before putting them in, put food waste in sealed containers (plastic grocery bags tied shut, for instance. Use your compost pile for most waste. Things with jagged edges (tin cans, broken glass, etc.) should be thrown away in other containers as well, or the jagged ends tucked down inside the cans.

Next you have to use sturdy bags and hold them in place. Some people double line. And actually, this can be very efficient, once you have a way of keepimg the bags stable as they line the can. You can put several bags in at once, nested one inside the other. If one leaks, the other 9 prevent the leakage from gumming up the bottom of your trash bin.

So how do keep the bags from slipping and sliding down the sides? Several possibilities:

If your waste can is metal, get several magnets and put the bags in, folding the tops out over the top of the waste bin, and hold them there with the magnets.

Or use clothespins. Or clamps (at least three, 4-6 would be better). Or wrap a bungie cord around the trash can an bags.

Also, make it sternly clear to all your dear fambly that the point of throwing waste into that receptacle is NOT to see how long you all can defy gravity with the leaning tower of garbage. It is not a contest to see who can pile the nastiness the highest.

Now, what to do about the inside of the can?

You *can* line the bottom with newspapers or other scrap paper so that when leakage *does* occur, the worst of the spills are not gumming up the inside of your rubbish bin for days before you know about them. You can also sprinkle the inside with some baking soda for odor prevention.

You could also use a thin layer of kitty litter.

We’ve done all the prevention I can think of, so what to do when the trash can get nasty and sticky inside anyway? This is especially difficult for the large family, because the bigger our family gets (or the more company we have), the larger- read deeper- our waste receptacles become.

We take ours outside (and by ‘we’ I mean my 14 year old son) and spray it out vigorously with the hose. If more cleaning is required, next sprinkle in some baking soda and vinegar/ or ammonia/ or dish-soap/ or boric acid- spread evenly over bottom of the can, let it sit a minute or five. Then scrub it well using an old broom or a mop- you need the long handle to really reach the bottom of our trash bins. If the garbage can isn’t too tall, or if you have a long armed son like mine, you can use a toilet brush, too.
Rinse well with the hose- you can rinse it out over an area where you have weeds you want to kill. Turn the trash can upside down and let it drain- setting it on some bricks, buckets, stones or boards so it can air out well. Rinse the broom or mop well, too. Once drained, if at all possible, turn rightside up so the inside gets some good sun exposure. Sunlight really is a great disinfectant.

So is vinegar, and it’s not a bad idea to spray the inside walls of the rubbish bin with a mixture of white vinegar and water, then let it dry some more.

If you don’t have your own yard, you can take all your rubbish bin to the local self serve car wash, or maybe ask a friend who does have a lawn and a hose. As a last resort, you’ll need to use either your utility sink, if you have fortunate enough to have one, or your shower. In this case, dump only an inch or two of water in the garbage can, scrub as directed, and then carefully pour the contents into your toilet. Dry well before you put the next bag in.

If you have smaller trashcans, you might consider running them through the dishwasher.

If at all possible, dry

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  1. Posted February 18, 2013 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    We’re still few enough (almost 8 people) for a 13 gallon can (and we have chickens who take care of most food waste) so I generally use the shower head to spray out the can whenever I see it empty. Then I dry with a rag and sprinkle a few drops of peppermint oil in the bottom. It gives me a nice whiff of minty freshness when I throw things away for the first day or so and I find the can doesn’t smell so icky when the bag is taken out. By the time we need a bigger can we’ll also have even bigger boys (they’re almost 10 and 11.5 now) for taking care of this lovely job 🙂

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted February 18, 2013 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

      I think it’s the amount of company we have that puts us over the top- plus a lack of chickens.

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