More and more municipalities are rolling out pickup programs for home organics and food waste. As a result, a new type of waste container can be found alongside the traditional kitchen garbage can in a growing number of households: the organics bin.
Actually, many households are now home to two different organics containers. The first is a small bin, often kept in the kitchen, for food scraps and other organic kitchen waste. The second is a larger cart kept outside, into which the smaller bin is emptied.
Given how quickly food waste and organic material can break down, it doesn’t take long for the containers to become rather stinky or slimy. Fortunately, keeping your organics containers clean and well-maintained is an easy enough task with the following useful tips.
Cleaning and Maintaining Indoor Organics Containers
Empty the Container Regularly
When dealing with food scraps and other organic kitchen waste items, the most important thing is not to let them sit around for too long. The more organic waste piles up in your container, the faster it will break down (given the increased heat and pressure that results from the addition of extra material). This means that it is more likely to produce unpleasant odors.
Get in the habit of emptying your small indoor bin into your larger outdoor cart on a regular basis. You might empty it every other day, or even every day if you produce lots of organic waste from frequent cooking.
It’s also important to drain any excess liquids from the container down the sink before emptying it. This helps prevent odors and fluid buildup in the outdoor cart.
Clean the Container Every Time You Empty It
Emptying your container regularly is the first step. Cleaning it is the second.
Never put fresh organic waste in a bin that is empty but not clean, as the container will become smelly much more quickly. To clean your indoor organics container, hot water and regular dish soap or the disinfectant cleaner of your choice are all you need.
Let the container soak in hot soapy water for a few moments before scrubbing it down with a stiff brush. Be sure to dry the container thoroughly with a clean towel (or let it air dry completely) before putting any new waste in it.
Tips for Reducing Odors
Sometimes you may find that your indoor organics bin is just too smelly, even with regular emptying and cleaning. However, there are a few steps you can take to help cut down on odors.
Lining the container with sheets of newspaper, paper towels, or paper bags can help absorb smelly liquid and keep it from pooling at the bottom. Just be sure not to use any plastic products to line the container. Plastic can contaminate organic waste during processing.
Sprinkling baking soda, vinegar, or lemon juice into the container periodically can also help reduce unpleasant odors. Finally, some people choose to keep their organics containers in the freezer rather than out at room temperature. This prevents food waste from breaking down and producing smells.
Cleaning and Maintaining Outdoor Organics Carts
Clean Your Cart Thoroughly
Chances are that your outdoor organics cart will be picked up through a municipal organics collection program. This means that food and organics waste may wait in the cart for as long as two weeks between pickup.
Since you are not in control of when your outdoor organics cart is emptied, it’s extremely important to clean it thoroughly after each pickup. If you have access to one, a garden hose is the best tool for this job.
Rinse the cart down well, spray it with a simple organic disinfectant, like a solution of vinegar and water, and rinse it down again. Let the cart air dry in the sun if possible before putting any new waste in it.
Keep Waste Dry
Following the principles of backyard composting can help keep your organic waste dry in its outdoor cart while awaiting pickup. First, line the bottom of your cart with a layer of dry grass clippings or leaves.
Next, add a new layer of clippings, leaves, or dead plants each time you empty your indoor container into the outdoor cart. Layering dry and wet waste like this helps liquid be absorbed evenly and prevents pooling fluid.
Protect the Container from Animals
One of the biggest challenges of maintaining an outdoor organics cart is keeping pests and critters away from the waste. Make sure the lid of the cart is kept shut and sealed at all times.
To prevent animals from getting into the cart by knocking it over, keep the cart on a flat piece of ground, away from any deck railings or fences. Finally, if you notice that any animals have been chewing on the cart to try to get inside, then you can rub chili powder, cayenne pepper, or hot sauce on the chewed spot to help keep them out.