The outdoor garbage cans that people use to hold trash until it is picked up all have one thing in common: They can get really nasty. When this happens, a thorough cleaning is necessary, but you probably don't want to expose yourself to harsh chemical cleansers and disinfectants. Fortunately, you can get outdoor trash cans clean and odor-free using only vinegar and a few other natural and non-toxic materials.
Things You Will Need
- 2 quarts vinegar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Dishwashing liquid
- Baking soda
- Rubber gloves
- Long-handled scrub brush
- Water hose with spray nozzle
- Disposable painter's drop cloth or tarp
Prepare Cleaning Materials
Put on the rubber gloves. Vinegar is not toxic, but it is acidic and can irritate your skin. Mix one part vinegar in the bucket with three parts water. Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to enhance odor control. Mix in 1 cup of dishwashing liquid; this will loosen dirt. Spread the drop cloth on the ground.
Spray the Garbage Can
Place the garbage can on its side on the drop cloth. Spray the inside with the water hose to remove loose dirt and debris. The water will run off, and most of the debris will settle on the drop cloth. When you finish cleaning all of your trash cans, roll up the drop cloth with the debris and put it in a garbage bag to throw away.
Scrub the Garbage Can
Soak the long-handled scrub brush in the vinegar cleaning solution, and scrub the inside of the garbage can. Using a long-handled brush means you won't have to stick your head in the trash can to reach the bottom.
Clean the Exterior
Scrub the outside of the garbage can. Scrub the inside and outside of the garbage can lid. If the garbage can has wheels, be sure to clean them as well.
Rinse and Dry
Rinse the inside of the garbage can using the water hose. Turn the can upside down to drain while you rinse the outside and the can lid. Turn the can right side up and allow it to air dry. Sprinkle a little baking soda in the bottom after it dries to help control odor.
To keep outdoor garbage cans odor-free between cleanings, fill a spray bottle with 50 percent vinegar and 50 percent water. Add a few drops of an essential oil like lemongrass or peppermint. After each garbage pickup, spray the inside. Be sure all garbage bags are properly closed and do not overfill them, to minimize tears and spills. Avoid putting small pieces of trash in the garbage can. Following this procedure will help keep the garbage can clean for a longer time and reduce unpleasant smells.