Recycling Bins: How to Clean and Remove Odors

by on December 20th, 2010
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My family is well aware of the importance of recycling and willingly do it. If only I could say good things about their recycling methods. Tossing dirty cans, bottles and papers into the home recycling bins is an eco-friendly step, but not a mom-friendly step since I am the one left with task of cleaning and deodorizing. These tips help me clean the bins quickly after a trip to the recycling center and help keep odors to a minimum between trips.

Get the Gunk Out

A layer of gelatinous gunk forms in the bottom of bins, a composition of drips, dribbles and dabs from cans and bottles. Get the gunk out the easy way by blasting the bin interior with a water hose to remove loose debris. Then fill the bin with water and your favorite household disinfecting liquid cleaner. I’m partial to Pine-Sol , but bleach, ammonia or even laundry detergent will work for this cleaning step. Allow the water and cleaning agent to sit in the plastic bins for at least an hour, the soapy soak does the hard work for you.

After an hour, pour most of the soapy water out and give the plastic bins a quick scrub with a stiff bristle scrub brush or broom (I purchased a cheap toilet scrubbing brush for this chore). Pour the remaining water out, rinse with clean water from the water hose and place bins in the sun to dry. The sunshine will speed up drying time and help sanitize and deodorize the plastic. Don’t forget to scrub the top and bottom of bin lids too.

Keep Recycling Bins Odor Free

Any food bits or beverage drips that end up in the bins are breeding grounds for odor causing bacteria. Keep the odor down by rinsing and drying recyclable items before placing them in the bins. Cover the bottom of the bins with baking soda and as the bins fill up, sprinkle baking soda over the top and keep the lids closed tightly. Sometimes the odor causing dribbles are on the outside of the bins and lids, so wipe them down regularly with anti-bacteria wipes.

Glad* makes bags that fit small home recycle bins and makes clean up quick and easy, but not all recycle centers will except bagged items. Attaching a small charcoal filter inside the plastic recycle bins will keep odor at bay while you help the planet be a greener space for future generations.







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