How to Keep Garbage Can from Smelling in the Garage
Tips & Tricks

How to Keep Garbage Can from Smelling in the Garage

It is convenient for most people to keep their garbage cans in the garage, especially to stop animals from making a mess in the yard. However, garbage cans will never have a pleasant smell, and it can be a nuisance when it smells up the entire garage or house, especially in the summer and the temperatures start to rise.

Not only is the foul odor an annoyance, but it also attracts bugs, mice, flies, raccoons, and skunks. But since most people use their garage for other activities, it is essential to apply specific measures to ensure the garage air is pleasant. Our article explains tips and tricks you can use to keep your garage garbage can from smelling.

Why does my garbage can smell so much?

It is wise to understand what causes your garbage bin to smell bad to understand better how to eliminate or reduce the smell. Here are several reasons why your garbage is so pungent.

Decomposing food waste

Decomposing food waste is the major contributor to your indoor and outdoor garbage can smelling bad. When food decomposes, bacteria and other microorganisms feed on the food waste, multiply, and release smelly chemicals and gases.

Some of those chemicals include sulfur, carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorous. However, the biggest culprits include meat and seafood scraps, diapers, and vegetable leftovers. These decomposing scraps could do better in double bags, which seals in the smells and prevent leaking.

Biodegradable trash

Other things that decompose also contribute to the garbage smells. Items like vegetation, dirty diapers, and pet waste will break down in your garbage can and produce nasty odors.

Should you keep garbage cans in the garage?

Since trash cans are very smelly, you would think it’s obvious to keep them outside so it doesn’t look unsightly, and the foul smell won’t enter the garage and house. Also, smelly garage garbage tends to invite critters around and into your home.

However, there are several reasons why you should keep your garbage cans in the garage.

HOA compliance

Home Owners Association is a regulation body for neighborhoods that make policies and enforce them for the common interests of the residents. Part of their mandate is to maintain the cleanliness of the neighborhood.

Many HOAs have rules against putting garbage cans in open sight. That’s why some homeowners will build separate structures for their garbage cans. However, if you do not have the resources to set up a new garbage structure, a simple solution is to keep the trash can in your garage.

Keep critters away from your garage.

Putting your garbage can outside, whether your garage can is in a structure or not, can attract insects and animals. Unfortunately, the animals will always try to enter your home after raiding the trash cans. Therefore storing your garbage bins in the garage helps keep these critters away.

However, that can prove to be an issue. First, the garage garbage can is conveniently near when dumping trash inside the house. Secondly, keeping the garbage bin out may attract animals, making a mess of the garbage.

How do I stop my garage garbage can from smelling?

Even if you keep your garbage receptacle out, the foul odor can escape and reach your house and garage. An ideal solution is to keep the garbage can or receptacle from smelling in the first place. Here are tips to minimize and eliminate garbage odor in the garage.

Trash bags

Trash bags can trap smells when sealed. They come in a thicker material that helps prevent tear and allow the garbage to spill out. Put all items such as fruits, food, diapers in a tightly tied trash bag to seal the smells.

There are also scented garbage bags you can invest in that mask the smell of decomposing trash. They also prevent critters from coming near your garage.

Clean your garage garbage can regularly.

Although putting your trash in trash bags helps seal trash, sometimes the bags can tear and leak into the trash can. Therefore every time you open the garbage can, you release the smell into the garage. After emptying the trash cans, clean them to remove the smelly gunk. Here’s how to clean your garbage cans and remove the bad odor.

Things you’ll need

  • Liquid dishwashing soap
  • Odor remover( baking soda, white vinegar, or bleach)
  • Long handle bristled brush
  • Garden hose or pressure washer
  • Disinfecting spray.


  • Spray water with your garden hose on the outside and inside the trash can to remove debris and fluids. Alternatively, you can use a pressure washer at low pressure to avoid damaging the can.
  • Pour out the water that is inside the can.
  • Add about 1/3 of a cup of liquid dish soap and two cups of vinegar or baking soda to a bucket with water.
  • Use a long handle nylon-bristled brush to clean the exterior and interior of the garbage can.
  • Rinse out the cleaning solution with the hose water. Pour out the water and allow the can to dry before adding trash.
  • Once the garbage can is dry, spray some disinfecting spray inside to kill bacteria that cause the trash to decompose and smell.

Use a kitchen garbage disposer.

Even if your tie your food waste tightly in garbage bags, odors may still waft out, or pests can still come and tear the bags open due to their highly sensitive senses of smells. Using a garbage disposer can help address this issue.

A garbage disposer attached to your kitchen sink minces unwanted food before moving it to the drain. This prevents you from throwing away too much food in the trash that will decompose and later smell up the garage.

Baking soda

Baking soda is excellent at absorbing odors. Sprinkle about a cup of baking soda at the bottom of your trash can or directly into the garbage to help absorb moisture and eliminate trash smells. You can also use it when cleaning your garbage can.

Dryer sheets

Dryer sheets are excellent anti-odor for your laundry, but they can also help with smelly garbage cans. They contain liquid softeners, lubricants, and fragrances in the layers of fabric that deodorize the garbage can. Place a sheet at the bottom of the garbage can, and it will block odors in and around your trash can.

Cat litter

Cat litter is made of clay and effectively absorbs liquids and smells, leaving fresh scents near the garbage can. Pour a scoop or two of non-clumping cat litter to the bottom of the garage garbage can eliminate moisture odors from invading your garage. Once the litter becomes damp, throw it out and add some more.

Garbage odor eliminator

The summer heat can make typical waste smells even more putrid especially if your garage is not well ventilated, and you will need more advanced solutions than household products. There are a variety of commercial garbage odor eliminators on the market that you can try- including patches, sprays, granules, air purifiers.

Most of these products effectively neutralize unpleasant odors, replacing them with your scent of choice. Some odor eliminators even contain citronella, which keeps flies, mosquitoes, and other insects away from your garbage cans.

When buying garbage odor eliminators, consider the type of product you want, pay attention to ingredients, longevity, and your garage’s size.

One downside is some fragrances intend to be pleasant but can easily irritate someone’s nose and throat cause allergic reactions and other side effects like migraines. Using odor eliminators with more natural scents is excellent for people with a sensitive sense of smell.


Increase airflow in the garage by installing a fan to circulate the smelly air out of the garage.

Remove waste promptly

Removing your garbage cans promptly before the organic waste rots and the pungent smell permeates the space is one of the best measures to controlling odors. Although you may not manage to take out your garbage bins every day, it’s essential to keep a regular schedule to maintain an odor-free garage.

Garbage can replacement

Check your garbage cans for cracks and leaks regularly to avoid leaking waste into your garage floors and remain in regulatory compliance. The garbage cans age and crack over time; mishandling the bins can also cause damage, leading to the garbage can leaking its contents out.

Avoid overfilling your garbage can.

Always try your best not to overfill your garbage can. The garbage can lid should remain closed to ensure the trash odor remains inside the bin and doesn’t waft into the garage. Sometimes you may have so much trash that you can’t avoid heaping it up. However, overfilling the trash bags prevent odor control. You can order an additional garbage bin for days when you have too much trash.

How to get rid of rotten meat smell in a garbage can

Decomposing meat and fish are among the food wastes that contribute the most to smelly garbage. This smell also tends to last longer when thrown out. Thankfully, you can do a few things to deodorize your garbage can from the rotten meat smell.

Clean your garbage can

Wash your garbage can with a bleach-based detergent to remove the odor and also disinfect the can. The bacteria from the rotting meat will cause the smell to linger for longer; hence you need chlorine bleach.

First, use a hose to rinse out the dirt in the bin, then make a mixture of bleach and liquid dishwashing soap in a bucket of water. Next, use a nylon-bristled brush to clean the outside and inside of the garbage bin. Then rinse the bin thoroughly with a garden hose. Finally, spray some disinfectant to kill any remaining bacteria or mold.

Neutralize the odors

You can use a few items from your house that absorb odors, therefore deodorizing your garbage bin from rotten meat smell. These items include; kitty litter, baking soda, white vinegar, activated charcoal.

Sprinkle some baking soda, kitty litter, or activated charcoal at the base of the garbage bin, and then let it sit outside empty for a day. Next, you can pour white vinegar into a spray bottle and spray it inside and outside the garbage bin, then let it air dry. Over time, the rotten meat smell will reduce significantly.

Deodorize the garbage can

Together with the above tips, scented items in the garbage bin will help mask and deodorize the garbage bin. A few things you can utilize include; scented kitty litter, scented trash bags, essential oil drops, and dryer sheets. Remember that the garbage bin must be clean for this step to work; otherwise, the rotten meat smell can easily overpower the pleasant scents.

Layer the garbage can with newspapers.

Layering the base of the garbage can with newspapers is more of a preventive measure. It helps prevent your garbage can from becoming dirtier than it should by absorbing most of the odor that leaks down from the garbage bags. Then change the newspapers every time you change your garbage bag.


Although modern garbage collection and disposal systems ensure that trash doesn’t stay out for too long in America, we still have the garbage smell in the garage. To prevent or reduce your garage garbage can from smelling, it is best to take the steps explained in the article to keep the smell at bay. In addition, taking up more than one measure should ensure your garage garbage can smells pleasant even with the high temperatures outside.