Being responsible for the household trash is one of a thousand little adult chores that no kid thinks about when they're wishing to grow up faster. It can be one of the worst of your daily chores, especially when the garbage can still smells like last week's trash – or worse, when the trash bag breaks or leaks as you're carrying it out to your curbside trash. Until we all have household robots to take care of our trash, we're stuck doing it ourselves. Adopting some simple trash can hacks can make trash day just a little bit easier.
1. Try a New Way to Replace Trash Bags
Who knew there was more than one way to replace a trash bag? Like so many other simple yet brilliant trash bag hacks, this one gained attention via a viral TikTok. Most of us have always replaced a trash bag by shaking the bag open and pushing it into the garbage can bottom first, securing the opening of the trash bag last. It works, but it's noisy, and it's not great when there's a light sleeper nearby. Next time, simply stretch out the bag's opening and place it around the opening of the trash can. Then, push down on the inside of the bag (or toss in some garbage) to press it into place.
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2. Create an Absorbent Layer Inside
If your trash is prone to leaking – like if you have kids in the house who are always dumping bowls of cereal in the trash no matter how many times you've told them to stop – fill the bottom of a new trash bag with absorbent material. Any nonrecyclable paper products (like used paper towels or broken-down greasy pizza boxes) are perfect for this purpose. They can't go in your recycling bin anyway, so put them at the bottom of your trash bag to soak up liquid before it drips all over your floor when you empty the trash can.
3. Use Command Hooks to Secure Drawstrings
Not all trash bags are created equal. You might end up with a low-quality brand or the wrong-size bag, and pulling the drawstring isn't enough to keep the bag's opening taut around the edge of the garbage can. As the trash bag starts to fill up, the loose edge of the bag slips into the can, and you have to go digging in the can to pull it back into place. Attach Command adhesive hooks upside down on either side of the trash can a few inches below the opening and tuck drawstrings around the hooks whenever you put a new bag in the can.
4. Clip No-Drawstring Trash Bags in Place
Trash bags without drawstrings are such a pain to keep in place. Pulling the bag's opening taut and tying any excess into a knot is one way to keep it from slipping into the can, but then you have to pick the knot apart when you want to empty the trash can. Using binder clips is a much easier way to keep these trash bags in place. The clips are thin enough that they shouldn't impede the lid of the trash can from shutting.
5. Use Essential Oils to Mask Smells
Kitchen trash smells – that's why you're throwing it away. But trash bags aren't cheap, and you're not going to empty the garbage can every time you toss onion peels or old leftovers into the trash. Using essential oils is one way to minimize odors from your trash or odors that are lingering on the trash can itself. Put a few drops of your favorite essential oil on a paper towel. Drop it into the bottom of the can before putting in a new trash bag as a DIY trash can freshener.
6. Absorb Bad Odors With Kitty Litter
Kitty litter is another option for managing a smelly trash can. While essential oils will cover those odors, litter will absorb them. When you toss the litter, the smells go away too. The downside is that kitty litter is messy, and it might get difficult to clean out of the bottom of the can if liquid leaks from your trash and causes the litter to clump.
7. Add Adjoining Recycling
Even if you're not passionate about sustainability, there are benefits to getting serious about recycling. For one thing, putting recyclables in your curbside bin keeps them from filling up your trash can, which means you get to empty your trash less frequently and spend less money on trash bags. It can be tough to get the rest of your household to adopt good recycling habits if they're accustomed to throwing everything into the trash can. Make recycling too easy to avoid by putting a recycling bin next to the trash can and hang a colorful sign over the bins describing the kinds of items that belong in the recycling bin and which belong in the trash bin.
8. Drill Holes to Stop Garbage Bag Suction
Maybe this sounds familiar: You go to empty your trash can, and the full bag doesn't want to budge – it's like it's suctioned to the can. The harder you tug, the more stuck the bag seems to become. It takes a lot of force and effort to break that suction. Drill holes near the bottom of the trash can to let air into the can, eliminating the vacuum effect so trash bags lift out easily even when they're completely full.
9. Keep Pets Out With Bungee Cords
Some dogs live their entire life ignoring the kitchen trash can entirely. Other dogs see it as a magical bin of delicious food scraps and are determined to knock over the trash can every chance they get. Install two screw eyes or Command hooks on the wall, one on each side of the trash can, and stretch a mini bungee cord around the can to hook it into place. Securing the can to a wall should make it much harder for mischievous pups to get in – if they're shorter than the can, that is. This trash can hack definitely won't keep out a Great Dane.
10. Make Portable DIY Trash Containers
If you're someone whose pockets, bags and car cup holders are always full of old receipts and crumpled tissues, you need a better way to deal with trash on the go. A plastic cereal container with a lid makes a perfect trash can for the car, but you can also just hang a plastic bag or cloth bag from the back of the passenger seat head rest to collect garbage. Anyone who carries a purse or other bag every day can even stash a small cloth bag inside as a way to keep all that junk contained rather than letting it gather at the bottom of the bag.