Remembering The Basics

Keep Critters Out Of Your Trash Can

If you live in a rural area, you may be subject to critters who want to invade your trash cans. Raccoons, possums, skunks, squirrels, chipmunks, groundhogs, rats, mice, stray dogs and even deer can wreak havoc on outdoor trash cans. Some will crawl up and in, others will knock the can over before rummaging through it. There are some things you can do to help prevent, even eliminate, these pesky critters from making a mess of your garbage.

Minimize Food Odors

Most critters have a keen sense of smell. You don't want to attract them by tossing loose food into your trash bags. Make sure food scraps, especially strong odors such as fish, are in tightly sealed bags.

If possible, keep your trash cans in a contained area such as garage, basement, or shed. Bring them out only on trash pickup day. If you must keep them outside, be sure to have trash bags sealed and secure the trash can lid. Some lids lock, but may still need extra securing. You can use a rope or bungee cord to help keep the lid on tight enough to keep critters from getting it off. Attach the rope or cord to one handle, bring it over the top of the lid, and secure it to the handle on the other side.

In cases of severe problems with critters getting into your garbage, you may want to consider freezing your food scraps. Bring them out on the day of your trash collection.

Never leave trash exposed. Trash cans with no lids, open lids or trash bags on the ground are party invitations for critters.


There are some ways to deter animals without harming them.

Metal trash cans are preferable over plastic for many reasons. They are sturdy and can't be destroyed by animals. Some critters can gnaw through plastic cans. Another benefit of metal trash cans is should one get knocked over, the noise of the metal clanging will frighten most critters and send them running.

Ammonia will keep most animals away. A few ways to use ammonia as a deterrent are:

  • Put a few drops in each trash bag before tying it up.
  • Lightly spray your trash bags with ammonia before putting them in the outside trash can.
  • Pour a capful of ammonia into your trash can.
  • Spray ammonia around the outside of your trash can.

Other things that may help keep critters away from your garbage are oil of mustard, or cayenne pepper sprinkled around the base of the can.

The Element of Surprise

An excellent way to scare critters away is to make use of motion sensors. Lights or sprinklers that are activated by motion work extremely well. If you don't mind a bit of noise, you can find noise makers that are motions activated. Some good ones can be found around Halloween!

No one likes to find their garbage scattered around their property. The good news is, there are ways to fight back.