How To Prevent And Fix A Dumpster Odor Problem

Posted on: 15 January 2015


Dumpsters changed the technology of garbage and waste disposal when they first appeared in the late 1930s. However, one thing that didn't change is the smell of garbage; the malodorous air of trash can still become a serious problem if garbage it isn't handled correctly. That's why it's important for you to understand how to prevent your dumpsters from becoming an embarrassing, stinky problem and how to combat odors should they arise. Below are some helpful tips:

Preventing dumpster odors

Seal your garbage

One of the simplest ways to prevent your dumpster from smelling is to seal up all garbage. The most common and effective way to do so is by using plastic garbage bags. Garbage bags come in a huge variety of sizes, thicknesses and closure types. While closure type and size may be more a matter of personal preference, you should always use garbage bags that are at least 2 mils thick. Thin bags suitable as interior trash can liners are not going to withstand the stresses placed on them inside dumpsters.

In addition, be sure that you seal up all your trash in bags. For example, it may not seem necessary to place cardboard and paper inside trash bags, but when those items become wet, they become an attractive food source for various odor-causing insects, bacteria and mold.

Air out the dumpster

Since noxious odors can arise as a result of microorganisms, one of the easiest ways to prevent a problem is by keeping the environment inside your dumpster dry. Providing a flow of fresh air into the dumpster will help moisture to evaporate and prevent bacteria and other microorganisms from growing.

Fresh air can be provided by opening the side doors on the dumpster as well as opening the top lid on the unit for several hours per day. Be sure to air-out the dumpster during daylight hours only to prevent nocturnal pests such as rats, racoons and feral cats from entering after dark. In addition, be sure to close up all doors and lids if the weather is rainy or damp.

Keep food out of dumpsters

Cats and rodents are able to detect food odors inside sealed bags, and they may tear them apart in an effort to find the food wastes. If your business produces an abundance of food scraps or non-edible parts of plants and animals, it's a good practice to dispose of them by using a commercial food grinder and flushing the liquefied wastes down the drain.

As an alternative, you can successfully compost many plant wastes and other items such as eggshells, coffee grounds and teabags. Composting is beneficial for the environment, and you may even be able to generate enough compost to sell if wastes are sufficient in volume.

Eliminating dumpster odors

Hopefully, you will be able to prevent dumpster odors from becoming a problem. However, should you experience bad smells coming from your dumpster, you have a few alternatives to help rid yourself of the odors:

Repel invading pests

As mentioned, pests can become a real problem for dumpster owners when they enter bins and tear apart trash bags in a search for food. If you have a problem with feral cats, try spraying a taste deterrent on your plastic bags before placing them in the dumpster. Taste deterrents are non-toxic, but bad tasting substances that most cats and dogs loathe. Feral cats will quickly discover that your dumpster is not a good site for exploration and digging. Check with your local pet store for assistance in buying an effective taste deterrent.

Use chemical agents

You can "treat" the inside of your dumpster with a variety of chemicals; here are a couple of low-cost chemicals that can dry your dumpster and help eliminate odors at the same time:

  • Lime powder – this has been long used as an odor controller due to its low cost and effectiveness. To use, simply sprinkle it over the garbage and dumpster as an antidote for foul odors. Be careful when handling lime, as it can cause respiratory and skin irritation.

  • Clay cat litter – cat litter is an inexpensive drying agent that can absorb both liquids and odors. Spread a thin layer of cat litter across the bottom of an empty dumpster for maximum effectiveness.

Clean your dumpster

Dumpsters can be cleaned with a pressure washer and a variety of chemicals including chlorine bleach, vinegar, and liquid dish washing soap. If you decide to use soap, be sure to select one that includes a degreasing agent to remove oily and greasy residues from the dumpster floor and walls. Never clean your dumpster will flammable products such as gasoline; the mixture of fuel fumes and air inside the enclosed dumpster could create a highly-explosive environment.

If you are renting your dumpsters from a company like Parks & Sons of Sun City, Inc., they may have more tips for you on cleaning and maintenance for the dumpster.