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How to Clean a
Kitchen Trash Can

June 10, 2022

Even if you use the best housekeeping checklist and stay on top of the dirt and dust, there’s always a cleaning task or two that are overlooked. Some areas of your home that are out of sight may be out of mind for you, but they aren’t for germs and grime. The usual culprits are pantry shelves, refrigerator drawers, and your hardworking kitchen trash can. Are you cleaning your trash can often enough?

Admit it. You probably take your kitchen trash can for granted and don’t give cleaning the trash can much thought. These utilitarian disposal units in your kitchen aren’t pretty or decorative like those bathroom trash cans—and they spend their whole lives in a dark, dank place under the kitchen sink or in a pantry. 

A kitchen trash can dutifully collects food, trash, and more until it’s emptied, then it starts its thankless job all over again. But kitchen trash cans harbor more than trash and food scraps. They also contain their share of nasty germs and sometimes even mold and mildew!

Those germs and other pathogens can harm your health, so learning  how to clean a garbage can is an essential part of deep cleaning a kitchen.

How Often Should I Be Cleaning My Trash Can?

How often you should be cleaning a trash can depends on how many people live in your home, the number of meals you prepare each week, and other factors. Once you’ve cleaned up the trash can, plan on tackling the chore at least once per month. But if your kitchen trash can is typically overflowing, you may want to clean it weekly. 

We all know when it’s time to take out the trash. When we can’t fit any more trash in the garage can or we smell foul odors, we know it’s time. While trash can odors may alert you that it’s time to take out the trash, those aromas should also alert us that harmful bacteria could be present. The odor from decaying food waste can come from bacteria like E. Coli and Salmonella and can harm your health as well as your sense of smell. 

Aside from the odors and nasty germs from decaying food, there are a few other reasons you’ll want to take out the trash regularly. When trash sits under the kitchen sink for too long, it can attract insects and rodents which can lead to other unhealthy pathogens. Take a proactive approach by removing your kitchen trash regularly to keep your trash can clean and fresh.

Cleaning a Trash Can 101

Now that you have the basics for managing your trash and keeping things healthy, the next step is learning how to clean a garbage can properly. So grab your cleaning gear, and let’s get to work! Here’s what you need:

  • Rubber gloves
  • Nylon bristle scrub brush
  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Paper towels or dry dishcloth

Choose your work area.

When you’re learning how to clean a kitchen trash can, the first step is to choose the best work area. If the trash can is small enough, you can wash it in the kitchen sink. For larger trash cans, washing them in the tub or outside will minimize the mess. 

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Remove the trash and other solids.

Before you clean your kitchen trash can, remove the bag of trash and wipe out the bottom of the can and brush debris into the trash bag. Spray the outside and rinse out the inside of the trash can to remove any remaining residue or debris. 

Mix up a safe and eco-friendly cleaning solution.

You can make a DIY trash can cleaning solution using distilled white vinegar, dish soap, and water. Combine 2 cups of vinegar, one cup of water, and a few drops of liquid dish soap in a spray bottle or container.

Scrub your trash can.

Use your cleaning solution and a nylon brush to scrub the outside of the trash can—be sure to get under the lip. Scrub the inside of your kitchen trash can and make sure you get into the corners well.

Tackle stubborn stains.

If the trash can still has stubborn residue or stains, you can use baking soda and water to scrub them away. Mix baking soda with enough water to create a thick paste and apply it to stains and dirty areas. Scrub the baking soda paste into the stains and let it sit for at least 10 minutes. 

Rinse the garbage can. 

Rinse your kitchen trash can with hot water inside and out until the water runs clear. Let the trash can air dry outside or dry it thoroughly with a bath towel. 

Pat yourself on the back. 

Now you know  how to clean a garbage can using natural but effective, inexpensive cleaners you can make at home. But before you put in a fresh trash bag and stick your garbage can back under the sink, check out these handy ways to keep things fresher longer. 

Tips for Maintaining a Clean Kitchen Trash Can

Knowing how to clean a trash can is a valuable housekeeping skill, but when you add a little odor management, you can keep your trash cans smelling fresh. Even if you take the garbage out daily and give your trash can a cleaning once in a while, offensive odors can still invade your home. Here are some odor-fighting tips using safe, natural household staples that will keep the stink at bay:

Baking Soda

A household staple for generations, baking soda is a natural deodorizer, stain remover, and cleaner. Fill a coffee filter part of the way with baking soda and tie it off with a rubber band to make a DIY odor-fighter. Place the baking soda packet in the bottom of your trash can before you put in a fresh bag. The baking soda will absorb odors for at least a few weeks and then you can just drop in another packet. 

Essential Oils

For a truly customized odor-fighter, use your favorite essential oil scents to keep your kitchen trash can fresh. Mix a half cup of water, a quarter cup of white vinegar, and a few drops of your favorite essential oil in a bowl. Dampen a cotton ball with your solution and drop it into the trash can before installing a new trash bag.

Coffee Beans

What better aroma is there to fill your kitchen with than fresh coffee? Coffee beans not only smell wonderful, they also absorb unwanted odors in your trash can. Put a handful of coffee beans in the bottom of your trash can before you reline it and enjoy the fresh smell of coffee anytime. 

Just like our safe, family-friendly cleaning guides, The Maids affordable and flexible cleaning services are a healthy housekeeping choice. Find out what we can do to make your home cleaner and healthier when you get your free online estimate today.

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