Taking Out the Trash: Tips and Tricks to Keep Garbage Clean

Garbage bags and waste bin outside

No one enjoys the smell of garbage, whether inside the home or out. Follow these five tips to keep your trash as clean and tidy as possible.

1. Set reminders for garbage days.

Note trash and recycling days on a calendar in the kitchen or set a reminder on your smartphone. No matter how you handle it, set the alert for the day before the truck will roll down the street. If you wait until pickup day to put out the garbage, you may end up missing a pickup if the truck comes earlier than expected or if you sleep in on a day off.

2. Use multiple containers for trash.

Odds are, you have at a minimum separate containers for garbage and recycling. Consider adding a compost bin to the mix. In it can go certain kitchen waste, newspaper, grass cuttings and leaves, and other woody materials. There are many plans available online for building a compost bin, and you can help to keep it free from odor by not placing in it any of the following:

  • Meat, scraps or bones
  • Oil or fat
  • Dairy products
  • Cooked food
  • Pet waste or dirty diapers
  • Bread or pasta
  • Magazines

double trashcan
If your compost does begin to stink, add wood chips to increase air circulation and be faithful when it comes to regularly raking it. And to avoid attracting wildlife, bury approved food scraps at least 8 inches deep and install a wire mess barrier over the top. Or opt for a sealed compost tumbler to totally thwart hungry raccoons and the like.

Another way you can reduce the amount of waste you put out for pickup, in terms of the amount of space it takes up, is to install a trash compactor. Such an appliance can reduce your waste volume by up to 75 percent. Compactors also include odor-removal filters, so the older garbage in the bin doesn’t get smelly while you fill it up.

3. Install sliding hardware in the kitchen.

For trash that does not go into a compost bin or compactor, install sliding hardware for easy access. Such a hardware kit includes tracks that go into a cabinet space and attach to a cabinet front, allowing you to simply slide garbage containers in and out for easy disposal of items and removal of the bag or container. Think about how many times you have mistakenly dropped something outside of a bin underneath the sink, only to realize when the stink hits that something has begun to rot out of sight. Choose a space deep enough for both a trash and a recycling bin.

4. Rinse food containers before placing in the trash.

Many garbage collectors require recycling to be rinsed. Whether yours does or not, it’s a good practice anyway. Rinsing away food debris from cans, jars, and other food containers eliminates odor. It also helps keep pests from seeing your trash as attractive.

5. Secure garbage outdoors.

Speaking of pests, they love trash. From the small, cockroaches and ants, to the large, coyotes and raccoons and even bears if you live in a part of the country where they are an issue, a garbage container can serve as an al fresco buffet. If larger pests are in the area, opt for containers that shut securely and/or consider building an enclosed area outside in which to store them.

You also can make your outdoor bins less attractive by following the first four tips on this list. If you rinse food containers, regularly remove the garbage from your home, and take advantage of every available pickup, you won’t have dirty, smelly and overflowing containers on your property.

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