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Cleaning the Trash Can: How to Get Rid of Maggots

Find out how to get rid of maggots in trash can interiors and bags and prevent maggots in the future.


Reading Time: 5 minutes

Written by Eunice Samson

A home free from maggots

Do you have a smelly trash can? Or perhaps you’ve found maggots in trash bags and crawling around between the bin and the bag. Once you understand how to clean a garbage can with maggots inside, it’s a good idea to start cleaning the trash can on a more regular basis.

Of course, it’s difficult to keep pests away from areas that are naturally going to be full of old food, bacteria, and all the things that are perfect breeding grounds for vermin! However, there are some simple steps you can take to both find out how to get rid of maggots in trash can interiors and bags and how to keep trash cans from smelling so you can keep them maggot free in the future.

Before needing this guide for how to get rid of maggots in your trash can, take preventative measures like double wrapping any food and diaper waste before binning it.

Cleaning trash cans: how to get rid of maggots in 4 easy steps

If you’ve found maggots in trash cans or liners in your home, there are four simple steps which will help you understand how to get rid of maggots.

  • The first step in understanding how to clean a garbage can with maggots inside is to dispose of the plastic trash can liner as quickly as possible, preferably double bagging it before putting it in your outside bin ready for collection.

  • Step two in understanding how to get rid of maggots is to get rid of any remaining inside your trash can. There are a few ways you can do this:

  1. Pour hot water in the trash can. Then clean it thoroughly.

  2. If you have a plastic trash can, you may not want to use hot water as this could warp the shape of the material. Instead, use a large quantity of salt to cover to the maggots in the trash can.

  3. If you don’t have salt and can’t use water, a standard bug killer spray will get rid of the maggots.

  • Disinfect your bin thoroughly. There are four key things you need to bear in mind when doing this:

  1. Always use a good quality bleach such as Domex to destroy any remaining eggs before they hatch and you find more maggots in your trash.

  2. Ensure you follow the manufacturer’s directions found on the label.

  3. Test any product on a small area of your trash can first, in case it affects the colour, material or integrity of your trash can.

  4. Once you have disinfected your bin, use a scented cleaner to wipe down the inside.

  • Put in a new plastic trash can liner, ensuring the bin lid is firmly closed.

The Poll

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Now you have followed these steps and understand how to clean a garbage can with maggots inside, make sure you follow the prevention advice below.

cleaning your home from maggots

Safety Warning

Use biocides carefully! Read the instructions on the label before use, always wear protective gloves, and ensure the area is well ventilated. Empty your trash with greater frequency and store it in a cool place.

How to prevent getting maggots in your trash can

Flies are naturally attracted to rubbish, which is why you get maggots and a smelly trash can. Now you know how to get rid of maggots, it is equally important to know how to prevent a repeat invasion. There are a number of ways you can minimize the risk of maggots finding their way into your trash, with our simple guide:

  1. The best type of trash can to use is one that closes firmly. Avoid swing bins, instead opting for one with a push and lock mechanism. 

  2. Do not overload wheelie bins so that the lid does not shut properly.

  3. Consider purchasing a bin that is handsfree, such as one with a step-on mechanism or motion sensor. These are more hygienic to use and will prevent bacteria from your hands getting onto the lid and attracting flies.

  4. Ensure that you always cover any food leftovers, whether they are out on your kitchen counter or inside your fridge.

  5. Invest in some fly spray and/or fly papers for use around your home. This is an important step, especially during the hotter months in order to keep your home fly-free and prevent you from finding any maggots in trash cans or bags.

  6. To avoid smelly trash, make sure you rinse food packaging (especially recyclable containers which are often left in an open bin) before putting them into the trash.

  7. Make sure food scraps are kept in a sealed container in the kitchen, or even the freezer, until they can be disposed of on rubbish collection day. You could also consider investing in a smaller, closed lid bin with biodegradable liners to put this waste into.

  8. Wrap disposable diapers, and meat or fish scraps before putting them in the bin and avoid a stinky trash can.

  9. Double bag the contents of litter trays and other pet waste before putting them into your trash can. Also make sure you throw away leftover pet food, especially on warmer days, to prevent it from going off and being the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and flies.

  10. Use scented products such as dish soap, scented cleaners and/or bin powder. This is a deterrent to flies as they are only attracted to unpleasant smells, and bacteria from food and other waste products.

prevent maggots in your bin

What are Maggots?

Know how to get rid of them but not sure what they are? Maggots are actually larvae that hatch from the eggs laid by flies. They are part of the food chain and help to breakdown decomposing organic matter, like food scraps. They are pretty harmless to humans but can reproduce incredibly quickly – a fly’s eggs can hatch and become adult flies within 24 hours of being laid. Their favourite food is meat and fish, but they like any environment that’s warm and moist and they seek these out using their sense of smell.

  • Use hot water, salt or bug spray to kill lingering maggots.

  • Keep your kitchen as clean as possible.

  • Cover leftover food, on kitchen sides and in your fridge.

  • Use products like Domex on the inside and outside of your bin.

  • Take the trash can out as soon as it’s full.

Why do maggots infest trash cans?

Maggots infest trash cans primarily because they are attracted to rotting organic matter, especially food waste. Flies lay their eggs on decaying materials, and when the eggs hatch, they develop into maggots. Trash cans provide an ideal environment for flies to lay their eggs, as they offer a steady supply of discarded food. Improper disposal of food waste without sealing or cleaning the trash can regularly creates an inviting breeding ground for flies and maggots. Warm weather and high humidity also contribute to the rapid development of maggots. Proper waste management, sealing trash bags, and regular cleaning are crucial in preventing maggot infestations in trash cans.

Do you want to learn which household cleaning tasks cause the most stress?  Then read our Heated Household data analysis. 

Frequently asked questions on getting rid of maggots and other pests

How do you get rid of worms from your trash can?

The steps for how to get rid of worms in garbage cans are simple. Once you've removed any trash bags, remove leftover worms with warm water - rinsing thoroughly in an outdoor area or placing the contents of the trash can in a sealed bag and disposing with the rest of your trash. Clean and disinfect your trash can thoroughly afterwards.

Does boiling water kill maggots?

Boiling water is an effective way to get rid of maggots but it is obviously not vegan-friendly. Preventing maggots from entering your home can help you avoid the problem in the first place.

Where can you throw away maggots if you don't want to kill them?

If you’re wondering where to throw away live maggots, why not remove them to your compost heap? The maggots can help to break down your compost to the ideal level to best serve your garden.

Do mothballs kill maggots?

Mothballs, which contain insecticide, can get rid of maggots - but not always very effectively. They may act as a good repellent though.

Originally published