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​The Ultimate Guide to Cleaning A Dumpster

​The Ultimate Guide to Cleaning A Dumpster

Posted by Trash Cans Unlimited on 4th Oct 2021

The prospect of cleaning a dumpster can be extremely foreboding, and many dumpsters are often not in the best shape. After all, they are a place to throw garbage! Fortunately, with the right know-how and expertise, cleaning a dumpster isn’t that different from cleaning metal trash cans. We’ll show you how.

Tools to Clean a Dumpster

First things first! Assemble the tools you need for a solid dumpster cleaning. Make sure you have these items to make the process easier:

  • A hose with a pressure nozzle
  • Pressure washer (optional)
  • Cleaning solution, such as soapy water, vinegar and water, chlorine bleach, or a pine-based or citrus-based cleaner
  • An old floor mop or scrubbing tool

Steps to Clean a Dumpster

As always, safety first! Always read all labels and instructions before using cleaning chemicals and products. Also, remember to wear the necessary protective gear, like gloves, goggles, and masks. Dumpsters can be a hotbed for all sorts of nasty stuff.

  1. Set your hose with a pressure nozzle to the most powerful setting, which will usually be “Jet.”
  2. Clear the dumpster of any debris or detritus, and then open the top and hose down the sides. Once you’ve got about 1-2 inches of water pooled in the bottom of the dumpster, add one cup of cleaner.
  3. Take your floor mop, and go to scrub town on the sides and bottom of the dumpster.
  4. Lay the dumpster on its side, and start hosing down the sides of the container. If there is serious grime and grunge on the sides, use an old mop to break loose the caked on dirt. If the dirt is seriously crusted onto the surface, pour some bleach or soap solution on the mop and scrub the sides where the dirt is the worst. You can lay the dirty side on the ground so that it's like scrubbing a floor.
  5. Once that’s finished, tip it over to empty it of any water, and then spray it out again with your hose.
  6. Rinse the dumpster after it is all cleaned, and leave it open to dry.


  • Do not drain the cleaning solutions onto soil. It will affect plants in the immediate area.
  • Orange oils are nontoxic in the house, but may be toxic to plant roots.
  • Bleach is the most toxic of solutions. If you have pets or kids, keep them away from the area while you clean the dumpster.

If you notice the dumpster still has a bad smell after cleaning is complete and the dumpster is dry, there are extra steps that you can take to deodorize the dumpster.

Tips to Keep Dumpster Clean

How to Keep the Dumpster Clean

Nobody likes seeing grungy, sticky, slimy, smelly garbage cans and dumpsters, let alone touching them when disposing of garbage. Dumpsters and other trash containers and waste disposal receptacles are not the cleanest things in the first place, but it is important to clean them out once in a while to keep them in good condition, to mitigate bad odors, and to prevent maggot infestations.

To keep your dumpster from getting excessively gross, keep raccoons and rats out of your trash, get the right trash cans and trash bags, and keep them dry.

1. Get the Right Trash Bags

If you’re not using sturdy trash bags already, now’s the time to make the switch. Well-tied garbage bags seal grime and odors inside. You may need to switch to sturdier bags if yours leak or odors are escaping. Your bags could be breaking open when tossed in the dumpster.

2. Keep the Dumpster Dry

Bacteria and mold thrive in moist, warm environments. Do your best to keep liquids out of the trash bins, bags, and the dumpster itself. You can also air out the dumpster by leaving the lid or side doors open on dry days. Remember to close it back up to prevent more moisture from getting back in, and to keep away scavengers looking for a meal.

3. Keep Animals Out

Feral cats, rats, or raccoons tend to find their way into containers like dumpsters in search of a meal. There are a number of rat proofing and raccoon repellent methods to help keep them out of your garbage and keep your dumpster clean. Since food tempts pests to raid the trash, try composting organic waste to keep critters out of your dumpster. You can invest in motion-sensor lights or using taste-deterrents like peppermint oil or cayenne pepper to discourage animal invasions. It’s normal to find flies buzzing around dumpsters, but they can be a problem too. If you find maggots in your trash, check out our guide to dealing with maggot infestations.

4. Get the Right Waste Management & Disposal Containers

If you’re regularly disposing of particularly wet, dirty, smelly, greasy, garbage or waste that can make the dumpster gross or even damage it, consider getting multiple containers dedicated to disposing of those, or heavy duty trash cans that can handle them:

To help keep your dumpster clean, get designated recycling, compost, or trash bins to help separate the garbage that can make your dumpster dirty, like food scraps, recyclables, and yard waste.

If you need new trash cans, Trashcans Unlimited is your source for all the cans you might need. Get in touch with us, and let us know how we can help.