Cleaning a Trash Chute

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Indoor air quality affects those who live and work in airtight buildings. Cleaning trash chutes frequently will improve the air quality and reduce odor by removing the mold, bacteria and other items lingering inside the chute after trash disposal.

Begin With the Chute

  • Examine the trash chute and make sure there are no obstructions. You should go floor by floor to determine that there are no blockages; several apartment and co-op managers who spoke with Cooperator.com have had experience with residents sending bulky items like furniture down trash chutes.

    If the way is clear, a chemical wash is sprayed on the sides of the chute to loosen the collected gunk. Most professionals use a biodegradable enzyme spray to begin the cleaning process. This enzyme not only will loosen stuck-on garbage, it will break it down into smaller components for easier removal.

    Professional cleaners say you should begin at the top floor and work your way down. You might want to wear protective clothing and ventilation gear; what you will be cleaning is not a pretty sight or smell, and it may be hazardous to your health.

Degrease and Clean

  • Professionals such as Brouwer Bros. Steamatic in Chicago then use a degreasing chemical to break down grease. Brouwer Bros. also recommends using a deodorizer to further improve the smell of the chute. A final power wash (typically pressurized spray at more than 200 degrees) removes the chemical cleaners and trash residue. This power wash should leave the garbage chute spotless.

Cleaning Frequency

  • Experts who spoke with Angelina Esposito at Cooperator.com explained that trash chutes should be cleaned at least once or twice a year, depending on how often residents use the trash chute. Garbage chute cleaning should be considered routine preventive maintenance, and those who spoke to Cooperator.com suggested that it was a job best left to professionals. Chutes in high-rise buildings are especially difficult to clean effectively.

How Long Does It Take?

  • Professionals say that the length of time it takes to clean a chute is relative to how filthy it is, how much debris must be removed before cleaning, and the size of the building. An effective garbage chute cleaning in a 30-story building can take up to three days, according to those in the industry who spoke with Cooperator.com.

Why Clean a Trash Chute?

  • Disturbing smells are not only distracting, they also can be dangerous. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, poor indoor air quality can cause short-term problems such as irritation of the eyes, nose and throat; headaches; dizziness and fatigue. Long-term health problems can develop after years of exposure to harmful air pollutants.
    Cleaning trash chutes is a form of source air pollutant control. By eliminating the source of bacteria, which causes the foul odor, you also eliminate a significant source of air pollution.

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