Cleaning

A 5-Minute Trick to Keep Your Kitchen Smelling So Fresh, So Clean

July 31, 2018

So, your kitchen stinks. It’s fine! It happens! We’re all human! We all have trash!

But sometimes that stench refuses to go away—it seems to be coming from the trash can area. It sticks around like that Cranberries song that I can’t seem to get out of my head. You change your trash bag. You change your trash bag with more frequency. You start bringing trash directly out of your house and throwing it away outside. You wonder: Do you have to, do you have to let it linger?

Well, the answer, actually, is no, no you don’t have to let it linger. Not at all.

The secret to a super stinky trash smell isn’t in the trash. But rather in the trash can. Think about it: You’ve got your plastic trash bag which, for the most part, does a good job of keeping hold of all your trash. But sometimes things rips, sometimes things spill. After a while, the bottom of your trash can starts to build up a funky little residue. Ew!

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“Another odor killing trick is to take a paper towel, pour a half cup or so of baking soda on it, golf it into a flat packet, and put it in the bottom of your plastic trash bin. Then put the bag in. If you're feeling very fancy, add a few drops of essential oil to the baking soda. This works very well if you use a biodegradable paper trash bag.”
— Keith E.
Comment

Whatever. It’s natural. In five minutes alone, however, there’s something you can do. Hear me out. Next time you take out your trash, don’t immediately replace the bin with a new bag. Instead, cart the can to your bathroom, squirt some soap into the bottom (I use Dr. Bronner’s or some dish soap), and fill it with some warm water from your bath or shower faucet. Let that sit for a minute, then swirl it around. Then, give the whole affair a rinse. See, easy!


All aboard the easy train!

Once you’ve let it dry completely, go ahead and return the trash to your kitchen and fill it with a new bag. Proceed as usual. If I’m feeling super precocious, I’ll do this once a week. If I’m feeling less diligent, this’ll end up happening only once a month. The frequency, really, is up to you.

I tend to up the ante in the warmer months when the trash smell peaks in pungency. Also, if my cooking has left me with more produce scraps then usual, I find that a garbage can clean is just waiting to happen. If you, unlike me, don't have a bin that can fit in your bath tub or shower—say, something industrial size—an outdoor hose will most definitely do the trick.

Next time you find yourself sniffing something unpleasant in the kitchen, give your trash bin a rinse. You will not regret it.

Do YOU ever do this? If so, share some tips in the comments below.

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53 Comments

Keith E. September 20, 2018
I do this frequently, really works. Also, my kitchen trash can is intentionally small so it must be emptied daily. Another odor killing trick is to take a paper towel, pour a half cup or so of baking soda on it, golf it into a flat packet, and put it in the bottom of your plastic trash bin. Then put the bag in. If you're feeling very fancy, add a few drops of essential oil to the baking soda. This works very well if you use a biodegradable paper trash bag.
 
pete August 4, 2018
Hi I am a little far from you guys, in Hout Bay Cape Town South Africa and enjoy this column. a tablespoon of vanilla essence splashed into the plastic bin eliminates the smell ( having washed it first of course). Make your own compost- a large black plastic bag approx. 50 gallons a few holes punched in it, fill with your leftovers, grass, newspapers. Put outside, have a beer and then later when the need arises do it in the bag. Seal and leave for about 6 weeks. You will have good compost with someone earthworms added in.
 
Smaug August 4, 2018
To each his own, but I'm glad your compost bag is in a different hemisphere.
 
Smaug August 4, 2018
If it's dirty, clean it. Do people really need to be told this?
 
holly M. August 4, 2018
Exactly what I was thinking! Who doesn't know this already??
 
Denise August 3, 2018
Great article. I put it in the yard and hose it down.
 
Smaug August 4, 2018
The article or your trash bin?
 
Barbara August 3, 2018
I have one suggestion to add unless I am late to the party. I just ordered reusable produce bags from Amazon - take thesse shopping and use them instead of the flimsy plastic bags to put your broccoli or a few onions in. They are washable and reusable. Great invention.
 
Gramz August 3, 2018
I compost and recycle (doesn’t everybody these days?🙂) so, along with the occasional trash container clean-up I store about 7-10 new, unused trash bags at the bottom of the can unde the plastic bag liner. Makes it easy to pull out the trash and put a new bag in. When the last bag is gone and the can is ready to be replenished it’s time to clean!
 
Gretchen F. August 3, 2018
All the additional suggestions sound good - but yet another one I do is, wait for it, use a white kitchen trash container! I love white (appliances too) because I can easily see when they need an additional scrub. I use a lot of Clorox Cleanup also, keeping things white. I too have a 10-year old, white, kitchen trash container under my sink that still looks brand new.
 
Samantha P. August 3, 2018
Hi L,<br />I live in a fairly large community in West Alabama. In our area though, we don't have any composting centers or even recycling bins available to us.....
 
L August 3, 2018
Here in Ottawa, Ontario we are required to compost and it's a huge help for keeping your trash bin clean. It's definitely a challenge to keep the compost bin clean. I regret that I've become so dependent on plastic and non-compostable cleaning methods like wipes. How common is it for other cities to have a compost program?
 
Jonny August 3, 2018
I wish my village had a compost program. They do provide hardwood mulch as a freebie to villagers. However I think because my village is fairly small finding the acreage needed to effectively compost would be difficult. What I would like to see is the small villages in the region come together and creat a composting program. <br /><br />As a gardener I would love to have this available to me but also to reduce the amount of waste going into landfills.
 
Susan August 3, 2018
Hi Jonny. I live on the eastern end of Long Island, NY, where we have a very long growing season. In addition to my small garden in my backyard, I’m a member of a community garden where I rent two large plots each summer. We invested in a large composter , and everyone just dumps their organic stuff. Perhaps you might start your own community/neighborhood compost pile. <br />I also keep a smaller, rolling composter in my yard. What I compost this summer will be in next year’s garden. Good luck!
 
Barbara August 3, 2018
Hi Susan - I live on Vancouver Island where the powers that be are considering putting a composting program in place (which means having a composting bin for roadside pickup). I would rather use my own composting for scraps but of course the region would pick up meat scraps as well. I am personally against it - not for the reasons that it would put up the fees which it would but for the reason we have bear and cougar that live in this area and I feel that having meat scraps in the bin attracts them to come right into neighbourhoods. I wonder what will happen when the first child is attacked by the cats.
 
Susan August 3, 2018
I only compost vegetable scraps, eggshells and coffee grinds. No meat.<br />I’ve been composting for years, and if the receptacle is well ventilated and well sealed, There won’t be problems with animals. Even the raccoons go elsewhere.<br />
 
Barbara September 21, 2018
nice for you, but I had the regular garbage can stolen by a bear - I even saw him booting it down the road with the garbage can under his arm!
 
Susan August 3, 2018
Composting organic kitchen scraps also helps. Helps our environment, feeds your garden, and reduces kitchen odors.
 
Cybele August 2, 2018
If I don't have time to wait for it to dry, I put a paper towel in the bottom to absorb any extra moisture before I put the trash bag in....
 
Jonny August 2, 2018
Rinse it out at kitchen sink and then send water down kitchen drain. However, when really smelly I add a small amount of bleach. Also wipe down lid. But to keep from creating a mess I tend to put messy smelly stuff in a recycled shopping bag and tie it up nice and tight before I place in bin. No need for a Rachel Ray garbage bowl I usually keep a recycled shopping bag on counter when I'm cooking to get rig of scraps that can't go to compost bin. For super smelly stuff it goes in a different bag & then Into freezer until garbage day.
 
Sue August 2, 2018
Every time I replace my plastic garbage bag I shake about a 1/4 cup of baking soda into the bag. It's absolutely amazing how much odor the soda absorbs!
 
Katy M. August 2, 2018
I have a toilet brush I keep for cleaning thing like this. No hands in the gook and chemicals (even organic cleaners are hard on your hands,) reaches the corners, easily cleaned and no rags to wash or paper to toss.
 
Barbara August 2, 2018
and for a lovely scent in the kitchen, keep some sachets of coffee tucked in the cupboards. Nothing like the smell of coffee to make people feel welcome in the kitchen!
 
Tam August 2, 2018
Every time I take the trash out I use clorox wipes on the entire trash and recycling cans, inside, out including the lids. It doesn't take but a minute. By the time I come back from taking the bags to the outside bins the cans have dried and ready for new bags. I've had a kitchen trash can for 12 years that looks essentially the same as when we first put it in use, except some scratches. Other people in my house skips the disinfecting step so I know it is not done every single time the cans are emptied.
 
Jane P. August 2, 2018
I had to laugh at this--yes, obvious. But I do personally know some people who don't know this and think a bad smell around the kitchen garbage can is just the way it is. I remember when my son, the summer after high school, lived with three buddies. He knows better now.
 
tamater S. August 2, 2018
That Cranberries song?<br />I clicked on it.<br />meh. <br />Guess I'm gonna have to keep my eye on F52.
 
BerryBaby August 1, 2018
I take the trash bag out every day or two, then dry the can if it's wet, and spray it with a disinfectant, and put in a clean bag. Never have a problem with smell.
 
Basil M. August 1, 2018
Did it take you long to work that one out.
 
Mar P. August 2, 2018
Seriously...
 
Andrea S. July 31, 2018
Between cleanings I use pour a bit of baking soda in bottom of can. Then when I go to clean it, I pour vinegar so the baking soda doesn't clump. <br />
 
tameka M. August 1, 2018
Yess! THIS is what I do. I also make my own vinegar. For cleaning. It's so much better than commercial cleaning products.
 
DMStenlake August 2, 2018
You make your own vinegar? Or vinegar cleaner? What’s the recipe? I too use the baking soda trick when necessary for the trash cans and pour a little in the bottom of the cabinet the trash cans slide into. <br />and use vinegar for cleaning.
 
Valerie August 2, 2018
I also wash my bins regularly, & every couple of months clean with baking soda. But sometimes the smell is from produce out on the counter or in the fridge that’s way beyond its best-before date. Make sure to get rid of those items too.
 
tameka M. August 2, 2018
I followed recipes from rain country and others on youtube. Her recipes are awesome.
 
sbrat August 3, 2018
Mixing baking soda and vinegar renders a useless cleaning product; they neutralize each other. You're just wasting product; use one or the other but not at the same time. Google i!
 
tameka M. August 3, 2018
I have read this before. However, the baking soda adds an abrasive element that helps with cleaning. Thanks.
 
Smaug August 4, 2018
However, the vinegar dissolves the baking soda, thus eliminating the abrasive element. I suppose you could try mixing cream of tartar and baking soda- you wouldn't gain anything over plain baking soda, but they wouldn't neutralize each other until they got wet.