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Have you ever walked along the street on rubbish collection day and held your breath as you walked past the bins or the collection vehicle? You wouldn’t be alone – they can really kick up a stink at times! When you have bin after bin all lined up along the street that odour can become ever more powerful too.
The good news is you can make sure your bin doesn’t smell that bad. You wouldn’t expect any wheelie bin to smell of roses on a regular basis but there are things you can do to make sure it doesn’t make your eyes water.
We’ve put together some handy tips here to keep your bin smelling as good as the day you took delivery of it.
Don’t put food waste into it if you have another way to recycle it
Let’s face it, all food goes off eventually. Even if your bins are emptied once a week they can still be smelly by the time the seven days are up each time.
You can recycle a certain amount of food waste by composting it in your garden compost bin. If you don’t have one now is the time to get started! Items you would otherwise throw away such as coffee grounds, tea leaves, raw fruit and vegetables and so on can all go into your composter instead of the bin.
Not all food can be composted though, so you need to decide what to do with food that doesn’t fall into this area. Some councils have separate food collection bins. If yours does make sure you start using that bin separately from your main one. You’ll normally get special biodegradable bags to use and a much smaller lockable bin to put outside on collection day. If your council doesn’t offer this service yet you should double-bag any food waste you have before putting it into your regular bin. It’s easy to put food into your kitchen bin and then tie the bag up before transferring it to your wheelie bin. However, this can make both your kitchen bin and your wheelie bin a little less than fragrant.
A good solution here is to keep any carrier bags you don’t want to just throw away. They can easily be re-used by putting food waste into them and then tying the top to keep them secure. Double-bagging has several advantages. Firstly it will stop anything leaking out the first bag if it has a hole in it (which most carrier bags do). Secondly it provides two layers that will prevent smells from getting out and air from getting in. The more air you can get out of the bags before tying them up the better – this helps prevent decomposition from occurring quite so quickly. The faster this happens the faster you’ll notice smells – and these can attract animals and flies. Finally you should notice that your bin is far less likely to become messy because nothing will leak out of a double-bagged collection of food waste (unless you’re very unlucky anyway).
Don’t put anything in the bin that isn’t wrapped first
This really leads on from the point above, particularly in the case of your normal rubbish bin that takes all the items that cannot otherwise be recycled. Most people transfer rubbish from their kitchen bin into their regular rubbish bin in bags, but it does help to buy good quality ones. Cheap bin liners have a tendency to rip and tear, and when this happens everything can leak out. This in turn means you’ll end up with more mess to clean up later – usually puddled at the bottom of your bin. It’s usually worth the extra few pence to get decent bags.
What about keeping other bins clean?
Wheelie bins aren’t just designed for regular rubbish that cannot be recycled. Many of us also have wheelie bins for garden rubbish and these can get just as smelly as the regular black bins.
When it comes to reducing any smells you might be experiencing it makes sense to think of your brown bin in a similar way to a composter. You should normally layer everything that goes into your composter so it all starts to break down steadily without smelling. A composter shouldn’t smell – it should have an earthy aroma instead. You can achieve something similar if you layer everything that goes in your garden rubbish bin.
For instance if you mow the lawn, pop some grass clippings in the bin first followed by woody garden rubbish. Take the time to clip that hedge or cut back some bushes. Other compostable materials can also go in before the next lot of grass clippings goes on top. Some people actually time their gardening so they get it all done just before bin collection day too. The shorter the period of time the garden rubbish is in there, the less time it has to break down and start to give off an odour.
What about a bin designed for recycling cans and bottles?
You may have a container or bin of some kind designed for this purpose as well. This is perhaps the easiest one of all to keep clean. All you have to do is wash everything thoroughly before putting it in the correct bin. If your tins, cans or bottles are dirty they will start to grow mould, attract flies and start to smell. A quick wash is all that is required before letting them dry thoroughly and throwing them away.
Keep that lid shut!
Regardless of whether your bin is emptied weekly or fortnightly you should always make sure the lid of your bin stays firmly shut. This will prevent flies getting into it and laying eggs. If you ever get maggots in your bin you’ll know something has gone wrong somewhere along the line. This could mean flies have had the chance to lay eggs in the kitchen before food has been bagged up to throw away, or that the lid of the bin was open long enough for them to get inside. Cats can also be very sneaky and gain access to the bin if the lid isn’t properly shut, as can rats and other unsavoury creatures.
If you find your bin is filling up fast every week, think about whether you have lots of space in there that isn’t getting used. It is better to have a smaller kitchen bin that takes small liners than a large one. This is because lots of smaller bags will more easily fit into a wheelie bin than two or three large ones. You might find you cannot get this number of large bins in next to each other without leaving big gaps. This also increases the chances of not being able to shut the bin properly during the week as it fills up.
Stay out of the sun
We all get this advice for health reasons, but did you know it applies to your wheelie bin too? Imagine a bin that is sitting in a nice shady spot, filled with rubbish and waiting to be collected. Now imagine that same bin sitting in full sunlight on one of the hottest days of the year. It may have food scraps and other things in it that you can’t compost. Now imagine the smell. It doesn’t take too much imagination does it?
This is why it is best to find a spot that enables your bin to be permanently out of the sun. You are far more likely to get a stinky bin if you let it sit in sunlight because everything in there is going to start cooking pretty soon.
If it does smell tackle it quickly
Let’s face it, no one enjoys cleaning bins. However this is the type of job that gets worse the longer it is left. We read some stories online from people who had found themselves in this situation and they used words such as ‘gunk’ and ‘gunge’ to describe the mess they eventually had to clean up. Needless to say few of us would want to tackle a mess like that very often.
Furthermore a wheelie bin will ideally need to be laid down on its side to clean out when necessary. You can use a broom or a mop to do this plus some fresh hot water and disinfectant. Incidentally if your bin does end up with maggots you can get rid of them by pouring boiling water in it once it has been emptied. The sooner you do this the easier it is.
Of course if you follow the advice we’ve given you above the chances are you won’t have to clean out your bin very often at all. It might literally just be the odd spruce up every now and then to keep things nice and clean and smelling fresh.
Have a look at other ways you can stop your wheelie bin smelling here
Don’t forget to clean the lid
The inside of the bin lid can get dirty just the same as the bin itself. You should give this a wipe over with antibacterial cleaner every week if you can. This helps to keep it clean but it also has the effect of deterring flies. They hate the smell of cleaners such as this and so you can solve two problems at once quite easily.
As you can see there are plenty of ways to stay in control of a nice clean wheelie bin. If you keep up with the suggestions we’ve made here and you think twice before putting anything in your bin, you won’t have a problem keeping yours smelling sweet and fresh.