How to deodorize your trash can in 5 easy ways

White trash can in kitchen
White trash can in kitchen (Image credit: Shutterstock)

When your trash can smells and becomes unpleasant, you’ll need to know how to deodorize your trash can. Even if you regularly take out the trash, it’s always frustrating when the smell lingers in the kitchen. 

This is mainly because most trash can bins and liners are made from plastic, which is porous enough to hold on to pungent odors. Alongside cleaning the trash can out regularly, there are also ways to deodorize your trash can quickly. What’s more, these take no time to do at all, and you don’t even have to spend a fortune on chemical-laden products as you should have some of these items already in your kitchen. 

So if you want to banish those horrid smells, here’s how to deodorize your trash can in five easy ways. 

1. Sprinkle baking soda 

Baking soda and vinegar bottle

baking soda in a spoon (Image credit: Shutterstock)

This popular natural household item is not only great for cleaning, but known for eliminating bad smells. This is because baking soda absorbs odors and moisture, making it the ideal deodorizer for smelly trash cans. 

Simply sprinkle baking soda liberally inside the bottom of the trash can or liner, and leave until any odors disappear. As you add more waste to your trash can, you can apply more baking soda as you wish to keep it from stinking. In addition, baking soda is great for scrubbing your trash can clean, and getting rid of those deep-set smells. 

If you want to know more about the powers of baking soda, check out these 10 things you didn’t know you could clean with baking soda. Bear in mind, these are things you should never clean with baking soda to avoid damage. 

2. Citrus peels 

Lemon peel

Lemon peel (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Citrus peels are another natural solution for deodorizing a smelly trash can. Not only does the zest mask odors, but will leave it smelling fresh each time. Simply slice off thin peels of lemon, orange or any other citrus fruit skin and throw them at the bottom of your cans. Better still, some experts advise using both baking soda and citrus peels at the same time to totally get rid of bad odors. 

If you want to know more about the powers of citrus, check out these 9 things you didn't know you could clean with a lemon. 

3. Cat litter 

Cat litter box

Cat litter box (Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you happen to have a pet, sprinkling cat litter to the bottom of your trash can will banish bad smells. This is because cat litter does well to absorb odors and liquids, quickly eliminating stinkiness. Just remember to dump it out after a week, as cat litter often becomes damp from moisture. Then you can replace the litter to keep your trash can odor-free.

4. Coffee beans/grounds 

Coffee grounds on wooden spoon

Coffee grounds on wooden spoon (Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you’re a coffee lover, you’ll be glad to know that coffee grounds can also be used to deodorize your trash can. Simply sprinkle a layer of dry coffee grounds at the bottom of your trash can before adding a new lining/bag. Similar to baking soda, dried coffee grounds work well to absorb nasty odors, and give off a nutty scent. 

In addition, if you enjoy gardening, coffee grounds also make an excellent deterrent for garden pests such as snails and slugs, so save them to scatter them around your prized plants. 

5. Laundry dryer sheets 

Laundry wipes

Laundry wipes (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Dryer sheets are great for making our laundry smell fresh, but also good for our trash cans. Simply tuck one or two used dryer sheets at the bottom of the can to block odors and absorb moisture or messy spills. For pungent smells, you can add or replace with a new dryer sheet to keep it smelling fragrant. 

If you don’t have dryer sheets at hand, soak a cotton ball in essential oil and place either under the liner or between the can/liner and the bag. While this won’t absorb bad smells, it will release a fresh fragrance each time you open the trash can.

How to clean an outdoor trash can

Disinfecting garbage can

Disinfecting garbage can (Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you need to clean an outdoor garbage can, here's how you can do it quickly and easily.

1. Put on disposable rubber gloves and empty out the trash can completely. It’s probably best to wait after your garbage collection day. 

2. Make up a solution of one part distilled white vinegar, and two parts water to disinfect the garbage can. For best results, allow the solution to sit for up to 30 minutes, so it can work well to remove bacteria. 

3. Get an old mop to scrub every side of the trash can, including the lid. Once you’ve cleaned every inch of the can, rinse thoroughly with a garden hose. 

4. Turn the can upside down or leave the lid open for the can to dry completely before sprinkling a layer of baking soda at the base. This will absorb and prevent any lingering odors. 

Be sure to check out how to clean out a garbage disposal and get rid of that smell, just be sure not to put these 11 things in the garbage disposal. Similarly, you might want to know how to get rid of raccoons and keep them out of your trash. And if things get really bad, here's how to get rid of maggots in your garbage can

Cynthia Lawrence
Content Editor, Homes

As the Homes Content Editor, Cynthia Lawrence covers all things homes, interior decorating, and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 

Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.

With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!