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How to get rid of maggots in your garbage can fast

Maggots on surface
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

It’s always alarming when you take out the trash only to find a sea of maggots crawling around your garbage can. And no matter how squeamish you are, you’ll need to know how to get rid of maggots fast. 

So what exactly are maggots, and where do they come from? These tiny, white or cream worms are actually fly larvae that live on organic waste. When flies infest a food garbage can, this becomes a breeding ground to lay their eggs. In a very short time, these hatch to become maggots. Such crawlies are more prevalent during the summer and spring months, when flies are more active, so knowing how to get rid of maggots is crucial. 

Before you think about calling in the exterminators, you can easily learn how to get rid of maggots in your garbage can in just a few steps. By eliminating maggots, this will prevent a future infestation. Similar to knowing how to get rid of wasps, how to get rid of ants, and how to get rid of gnats inside your home, all you’ll need are a few household items to banish the tiny pests. So if you want to keep crawlies away, follow these tips on how to get rid of maggots in your garbage can fast.  

How to get rid of maggots

1. Remove the trash 

Man removing black trash bag from can

Man removing black trash bag from can (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Put on disposable rubber gloves, and remove all trash from the infested can, making sure it’s well tied. If the bag is damaged, place it inside another heavy-duty sealed bag and transfer to another bin. You can do this on your waste disposal collection day.  

2. Pour hot water into garbage can 

Maggots at bottom of garbage can

Maggots at bottom of garbage can (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Next, boil hot water and carefully pour it into the garbage can. Make sure to hit every inch of the garbage can with water, before letting it sit for about 30 minutes. This will instantly kill any remaining maggots and eggs at the bottom of the can or on the sides. Then empty the garbage can of all contents, including the dead maggots, before rinsing out the can using a garden hose. 

TIP:  If you have a plastic trash can that may warp due to hot water, you can cover the maggots with a large quantity of salt instead. Salt is a natural dehydrator, so it will suffocate maggots in no time. 

3. Disinfect with white vinegar solution

Disinfecting garbage can

Disinfecting garbage can (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Make up a solution of one part distilled white vinegar, and two parts water to disinfect the garbage can. Alongside baking soda, white vinegar is a natural deodorizer, so will remove rotten odors. Then, use a mop to scrub the inside of the garbage can, ensuring to cover all areas including the lid. For best results, allow the solution to sit for up to 30 minutes, so it can work well to remove bacteria.  You can also find out what makes baking soda and vinegar so good at cleaning. 

4. Rinse garbage can well

Garbage can upside down to dry

Garbage can upside down to dry (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Finally, rinse thoroughly with a garden hose. Turn the can upside down or leave the lid open for the can to dry completely before putting in a trash bag.  Ensure you use a high-quality bag that won't tear or break easily. This will eliminate any entry points for flies to get in. 

How to prevent maggots in your garbage can

Maggots on surface

Maggots on surface (Image credit: Shutterstock)
  • Purchase high-quality garbage bags that won’t tear or break easily
  • Always tie up bag securely to prevent any flies entering
  • Limit the time meat scraps are left in the garbage. Female flies are attracted to the rotting meat scraps in the garbage can and will enter. Try to dump your meat scraps the night or day before waste disposal collection
  • Regular cleaning with a water and vinegar solution can help prevent future infestations 
  • Use citrus or scented products such as dish soap, or scented cleaners. This will deter flies who are only attracted to foul smells
  • Ensure your garbage can is one that closes firmly

If you're bedeviled by other pests, we've also get tips on how to get rid of mosquitoes as well as how to get rid of ants and how to get rid of fleas.  

Cynthia Lawrence
Cynthia Lawrence

Cynthia Lawrence specialises in Homes ecommerce, covering all things homes 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!