How to Clean a Dirty Trash Can (and Keep It From Smelling)

Published March 19, 2021
How to clean dirty trash can

No one wants to bust out their rubber gloves to clean a dirty trash can. But it has to be done. Learn how to clean your trash can with ease and simple tricks to keep it smelling fabulous.

How to Clean Trash Can: Materials

Trash is stinky! There are no two ways about it. And over time, your trash can get stinky itself from bag leaks or spills. If you are dealing with a stinky trash can, you don't need to let the sanitation worker take it with the trash. Instead, there are several ways you can clean it using simple home remedies. But, before you dive into cleaning your stinky trash can, you need to grab a few essentials.

  • Hydrogen peroxide

  • White vinegar

  • Rubber gloves

  • Toilet brush

  • Towel

  • Dish soap

  • Spray bottle

  • Baking soda

  • Sponge (optional)

  • Newspaper

  • Bucket

Steps to Cleaning Out a Dirty Trash Can

With your materials at the ready, it's time to get cleaning that smelly trash can.

  1. Take out the trash and remove any trash in the bottom. (It's all about starting with a clean can.)

  2. Mix a tablespoon of dish soap with warm water in a spray bottle and spray down the outside of the can. (You want to coat the inside of the can well.)

  3. Coat the inside of the can with baking soda.

  4. Let that sit for about 5-10 minutes.

  5. Wipe down the outside of the can while you wait.

  6. Take the toilet brush or other long-handled bristle brush and scrub the inside of the can. (Continue scrubbing until all the crude inside the can is gone.) You can use a sponge with a scrubber too.

  7. Use a garden hose or the tub to rinse the can out.

  8. For extra disinfecting power, spray straight hydrogen peroxide or white vinegar on the inside of the can and let it sit for 10 minutes.

  9. Give the can a final rinse.

  10. Take a microfiber cloth and wipe out the inside and outside of the can well.

How to Keep Outdoor Garbage Cans From Smelling

When it comes to your outdoor garbage cans, you need a degreaser in addition to a smell remover. For this job, you are going to grab the dish soap and white vinegar. Blue Dawn works exceptionally well for this job.

  1. Mix equal parts of white vinegar, dish soap, and water in a spray bottler.

  2. Take your garbage can into an area of your yard the garden hose can reach.

  3. Spray down the entire garbage can.

  4. Wait for about 5 minutes.

  5. Spray down the trash can with the mixture once more.

  6. Allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes.

  7. Fill a bucket with hot soapy water.

  8. Scrub down the entire trash can with your scrubber and sponge.

  9. Rinse and let the garbage can dry in the sun.

  10. Once dry, sprinkle baking soda in the bottom of the trash can.

  11. Cover the baking soda with an old newspaper.

  12. Refresh this weekly after trash day to keep cans from smelling.

Boy standing by stinky dumpsters

How to Prevent Trash Can From Smelling

When it comes to all your trash or garbage cans, there are a few things you can do to help keep them from stinking.

  • Create a 1:1 mixture of white vinegar and water and spray down your can once a week.

  • Add cat litter, baking soda, or newspaper to the bottom of your trash can to prevent odors. Change these once a week.

  • Try using garbage bags with odor protection.

How Often Should You Clean Your Garbage Can

You should be giving your trash can a deep cleaning about every 6 months. If you notice it's getting dirty more often, then you should clean it more. However, using baking soda and wiping it out every so often can make it look newer longer. Just so you don't forget, you can add it to your deep cleaning routine.

Clean a Dirty Trash Can

No one likes a dirty trash can. They are breeding grounds for germs and smells. However, taking a few simple precautions can make sure any stink goes out with the trash.

How to Clean a Dirty Trash Can (and Keep It From Smelling)