How to get the smell out of a garbage can

Your garbage can over time develop odors that aren’t so pleasant to have in your home. Even if you frequently change out your trash bag, bits of food and other trash get left behind, making your trash can stink. Every once in a while it’s a good idea to give your trash can a good deep clean to get rid of any odors. Read on to learn how to get smell out of your garbage can.

Odors From Trash Can

How to Get the Smell Out of a Plastic Garbage Can

There are a couple ways to eliminate odors in your trash can, and they both are relatively simple. If you live in a house and have access to a high pressure hose or pressure washer, you’ll want to use the first method as it’s easier. The second involves using a bristle brush and is better suited for if you live in an apartment with no access to a hose. Both methods work for indoor and outdoor trash cans!

Pressure washer

Method #1: Using a Hose/Pressure Washer

  1. Take your garbage can outside and lay it down on its side.

  2. Wet the garbage can and apply some dish soap (apply extra on areas with gunk or build up).

  3. Spray down the can and lid, inside and out, with your hose or pressure washer. Pay special attention to the corners where gunk builds up.

  4. Once you’ve thoroughly cleaned the can, tip it over and drain the water out.

  5. Allow the can to dry (towel drying speeds this up).

  6. Apply disinfectant to kill remaining bacteria.


Bristle Brush

Method #2: Using a Bristle Brush

  1. Move your garbage can into your bathtub.

  2. Fill roughly ⅓ of your garbage can with warm water. Apply soap to the interior and exterior (don’t forget the lid!), and mix in soap with the warm water.

  3. Using a bristle brush, clean the garbage can inside and out. Dunk the brush into the soapy water periodically while scrubbing for best results.

  4. Dump out all the water and rinse off your garbage can.

  5. Apply disinfectant to kill remaining bacteria.



And there are two quick and easy ways to clean out your garbage can! A quick note: if using bleach as disinfectant, be sure to rinse your garbage can again to remove any remaining residue. You’ll want to deep clean your garbage can like this about once every 6 months to keep the odors under control.


Prevent Trash Can Odors

How to Prevent Trash Can Odors

Deep cleaning is a great way to get existing smells out of your garbage can, but wouldn’t it be great if you could prevent the odors in the first place?

Changing your garbage bag frequently will help keep odors from building up, and you can also use these household items to prevent trash can odors:

Water and vinegar

50-50 water and vinegar mixture: vinegar is great at neutralizing odors. Just spray a few sprays each time you change your bag to keep your can from smelling. For extra help, you can also add in a few drops of essential oils to your mixture.

Baking soda

Baking soda: there is little that baking soda can’t do. Similar to placing baking soda in your refrigerator to eliminate odors, you can also sprinkle some baking soda in the bottom of your garbage can. This will have the same deodorizing effect! For those with metal cans, you’ll want to prevent corrosion by adding your baking soda to a coffee filter and then tying it up before placing it in the can.

Cat litter

Cat litter: cat litter can help absorb any moisture at the bottom of your garbage can. This will help to prevent any bacteria from growing. Just sprinkle a little in the bottom of the can.

Dryer sheets

Dryer sheets: similar to cat litter, dryer sheets work great for absorbing odors. They’ll also leave behind a fresh scent as well! Simply place one or two sheets at the bottom of the can and change them out each time you replace your garbage bag.

Vanilla extract

Vanilla extract: vanilla extract has a very strong scent that works great at overpowering any stinky odors left by your trash. For this method, pour a few drops of vanilla extract on some cotton balls and leave them in the bottom of your trash can.


If None of These Work

The cleaning and prevention methods above work great for most cases, but sometimes it just isn’t enough. If that’s your case, it may be time for a new trash can. Unfortunately, plastic absorbs odors. Cleaning regularly and adding in items to prevent odors will help prolong the life of your trash can, but once those methods become ineffective you’ll have to look for a replacement.

Regular trash can cleanings and prevention measures will help remove build up and odors. Using the methods above you can keep odors at bay and have a clean smelling kitchen!