How To Clean, Deodorize and Disinfect Stinky Garbage Cans

Whether you have indoor or outdoor waste containers, bad smells can form quickly, but don’t let them linger in the house. Learning some easy tricks on how to clean a stinky garbage can and deodorize your trash bins will do wonders so you no longer have to put up with the stench. Here’s a simple guide to help you battle trash can odors.

Why do my trash cans smell?

In order to maintain a hygienic and fresh-smelling home environment, keeping your rubbish bins hygienic is a crucial step, but don’t think the only reason why your garbage can smells is that you haven’t cleaned it for a long time. Study these factors ‘what can cause trash cans odors’ so it might be easier to prevent them from stinking in the future.


Any decaying waste will emit a bad smell. Because of bacterial growth and rotting, this process will cause foul smells to come out from your indoor and outdoor trash cans.

decomposing smelly food waste

The longer you leave decomposing waste in your bins, the worse it will smell. Moreover, heat and excessive humidity allow bacteria to grow faster making trash can odors even more strong.

Poor trash handling

The way you handle your garbage plays a role in how bad it smells. For instance, if you neglect to take the trash out until it’s full, you leave your home susceptible to garbage odors.

full garbage can

It’s also common for garbage residue to fall from the trash bag into the bin when you carelessly throw your rubbish away. So, the decomposition process continues, even after you’ve taken the bag out unless you clean it properly.

Using the wrong kind of trash bags

Maybe you empty your waste containers on a regular basis and still notice a foul stench. In some cases, the culprit is your garbage bags. Using odor proof trash bags helps to keep bad smells at bay until you dispose of your trash.

Hot Climate

In a hot climate or generally during summer, trash bin smells are even more intense. Increased humidity and heat make organic materials decompose faster, which will quickly produce horrible odors.

garbage can in the sun

In such weather conditions, make sure to empty your indoor trash bins daily to prevent unpleasant garbage smells in the kitchen, and be sure to place your outdoor garbage cans away from extreme heat.

How to clean stinky garbage can – Best methods to stop odors

Now that you’re familiar with why trash bins smell bad, it’s time to figure out how to clean a stinky garbage can. Regularly cleaning and deodorizing your waste bins will help stop bad smells in the kitchen and outdoors as well as prevent bacteria from multiplying.

Rinse it with soapy water

The simplest procedure of cleaning a garbage can is rinsing it with warm soapy water and scrubbing away residue and food build-up. This technique should fix dirt and mild odor issues and should be done ideally at least once a week.

To begin, take your bin to an area you don’t mind getting wet, like your lawn. Wait until the bin is completely emptied by your waste company. Once cleared, give your waste container a thorough rinse. Follow up with adding some liquid soap and scrubbing it with an old broom or toilet brush. Finally, rinse it again with clean water and let it dry.

Clean it with bleach

Depending on how severe the smell was, the basic cleaning may not be enough to stop your waste bin from smelling. In this case, the best is to clean your stinky can with bleach that will not only remove odors but also kill bacteria.

However, it can ruin clothes and cause chemical burns if you’re not careful, so read these tips to learn how to clean a smelly garbage can with bleach in a safe way.

Clorox bleach bottle

Start by protecting your skin and face. Wearing clothes you don’t mind being ruined, scrape away as much residue as possible. Fill a third of your can with hot water. Add bleach and let your can sit for at least thirty minutes.

The amount of bleach needed will depend on the size of the can, but you find mixing recommendations for disinfection on the container’s label. Then, scrub the entire bin and lid thoroughly to remove the odor-causing residue. Safely dispose of the dirty water and either towel or air dry your bin.

Deodorize your bins with baking soda and vinegar

In order to keep smells away, deodorize your trash cans between washes too. There are plenty of materials that eliminate foul odors, including baking soda, vinegar, but you can use a homemade disinfectant spray and even store-bought trash can odor absorbers.

baking soda powder natural odor eliminator

Baking soda is an excellent non-chemical product for absorbing smells in your trash can. All you need to do is put some down at the bottom of the bin, let it sit overnight, and then clean it up with water in the morning.

This process will help keep your garbage can from smelling. If you don’t mind, you can even leave it in your trash can since baking soda is environment-friendly and completely biodegradable.

Cleaning your garbage cans with vinegar is both eco-friendly and cost-effective. Just mix equal parts of vinegar and water in a bucket, sponge down the surface area with it, and let it dry. It will help kill any bacteria or fungus that might be causing the smell. For cleaning, I use concentrated cleaning vinegar that tackles dirty jobs more effectively.

To boost the natural disinfectant powers of vinegar you can add some lavender or tea tree essential oil to the mixture. Doing so also makes your trash bin smell amazing.

Get a new garbage can

If all of the above methods do not work, the last resort to deal with smelly trash can be to get a new one. There are many different types and sizes available on the market designed to reduce odors, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find one that suits your needs. I love iTouchLess trash cans that are 100% touchless and equipped with an activated carbon filter to absorb and neutralize bad smells.

Sure, your garbage is bound to occasionally smell unpleasant. However, you shouldn’t have to deal with strong odors on a regular basis. No matter what method you choose, it is essential to clean your garbage cans regularly to avoid any bad smells, but by following the tips mentioned in this article, you should be able to have a smelly-free trash bin in no time.

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