The Single Best Thing You Can Do to Keep Your Kitchen Trash Can from Stinking

updated Apr 6, 2021
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Even if you’re diligent about taking out the trash, things can get pretty stinky in that can. Because, well, that’s where garbage goes! (Plus, most trash can bins and liners are plastic, and that material is just porous enough to hold on to smells.) You should absolutely clean it out from time to time, but there’s something you can do to help eliminate odors between deep cleans. The solution: Sprinkle baking soda in it!

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Baking soda is a solution because it’s both an odor absorber and an odor neutralizer. “When odors are around baking soda, they turn into a salt, which is not able to volatilize in the air where it would come in contact with our noses, making any odors undetectable,” says Dr. Steven A. Bolkan, director of research & development at Church & Dwight (Arm & Hammer Baking Soda’s parent company). After turning the odors to salt, baking soda then absorbs those molecules, too.

So what does that mean for your trash can? If it’s stinky, liberally sprinkle baking soda inside the can or liner, and leave it there until the odor is gone. It works in your actual trash, too. If you have stinky garbage you’re not ready to take out yet (it’s not full, it’s hailing outside, you’re in your inappropriate-for-outside pajamas), give it a coating of baking soda. It should keep odors at bay until you’re ready to take it out. You can even apply multiple layers of baking soda as you add stinky trash, if you want. It’ll just keep working. Easy-peasy!

Every few months (because trash cans do get a little grimy after a while) the Arm & Hammer team recommends washing out the can with a mixture of 1 cup baking soda to 1 gallon water to clean it and eliminate any surface orders.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Another thing you could try: Soak a cotton ball in essential oil and throw it in either under the liner or between the can/liner and the bag. This won’t absorb the smell, but it will help to mask it!

Credit: Kitchn