Managing Household Trashcans

Caring for your outdoor garbage cans requires a few steps to ensure they remain clean, effective, and odor-free all year.

Perhaps one of the most overlooked outdoor tasks is managing trashcans. While it doesn't require much effort to prepare them for weekly trash pickup, it's a good idea to give some thought to keeping them clean and odor-free. Here are some ideas for managing these outdoor bins.

1. When buying a trashcan in which to store outdoor garbage for weekly collection, keep size in mind. Don't get bins that are too small or you may soon find no room for end-of-week trash from the house, and have to pile boxes and bags on top of the bins. There the smell can draw neighbors' pets and outdoor rats, squirrels, and birds, who while feasting, will strew garbage all over the lawn. To prevent such problems, get a bin that is large enough to hold a typical week's worth of garbage. If you do end up with extra at certain times, like around the holidays or when company comes to stay, double-bag extra trash and place it in a carton or box to discourage predators.

2. Choose bins that coordinate with your home's outside appearance. Bright red trashcans may clash with a quiet gray exterior. Dark woodland green or black are probably neutral enough to blend in with any house design. Check to be sure the lids fit tightly and can be secured if desired. Look for snugly-attached handles that will help you maneuver the bins to your curb for pickup. Keep in mind the placement of outdoor bins so that they won't get knocked over or blown away by weather or animals.

3. When you take out indoor trash that includes garbage composed of food remains or chemicals, be sure to double-bag these items or wrap them in newspaper to prevent leakage of liquids and odors. Don't simply take out full waste cans and dump them into the trashcans, or the loose contents will blow away when the lid is opened for the next load. Wrap all trash securely before depositing it in the bins.

4. If you experience trouble with animals sniffing around, gnawing at the trashcan, or trying to knock it over, shop for an odor repellent that will keep animals away. There are natural scents that other creatures don't like. Find one that is non-toxic so your family will be safe around the trashcans, and use it to discourage other animals from dining at your bin.

5. Clean the trash bins every couple of months, weather permitting. On pick-up day after collections have been made, pour a little detergent into each bin and use the water hose to add water. Get a long-handled brush to swish the soapy water up around the sides, cleaning the lid separately. Pour out the water and rinse with fresh water from the hose. Then turn the bin and its lid upside down on the grass to air dry. After a while, turn it right side up again without the lid so the sunlight can help to clean and deodorize the interior. You may wish to spray with a disinfectant before reusing it.

6. Consider recycling. Aluminum cans and products, bottles and glassware, and certain kids of plastics can be dropped off at recycle collection centers. Find out if there is one in your community to help protect the environment in this way.

Trashcans may seem like a small part of overall property management, but they play a key role. Don't overlook their care so you can avoid problems later.

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