How to Clean Trash Can with Maggots

Only 19 percent of American households empty their trash bins daily. However, most people empty these cans several times a week. And that could prove to be troublesome indeed.

Unfortunately, organic matter, such as food waste, tends to become smelly as it decomposes, especially in an enclosed container during hot summer months. And when it smells, it attracts adult flies that will likely lay eggs. Around the home, you are likely to deal with blow flies, fruit flies, or house flies.

In warmer weather, the eggs of the female flies could hatch in eight to 20 hours and become larvae due to the high temperatures, which accelerate their development. However, the lower temperatures will buy you more time in cold weather. And the fly larvae may take two to three days.

But regardless of the cold or hot weather, if you have rotting food and other organic material, you will likely deal with maggot infestation at some point if you don’t empty your garbage bin often. And it’s not pleasant to deal with such slimy and filthy creatures.

Therefore, you need to understand what waste materials are likely to cause maggot problems, the problems adult flies can bring, how to clean your garbage bins or trash bags with maggots, and the effective ways of keeping them away, in the first place.

What Waste Attracts Flies to Your Garbage Bags?

Flies require protection, warmth, and food to lay eggs that hatch into larvae. So, anything that provides those things will likely bring maggots into your home or outdoor space.

Below are some common types of waste and conditions that can attract flies to your trash bins.

  • Excrement from soiled diapers and pet droppings
  • Entry points, such as an open garbage can or holes within the garbage bins
  • Rotting meat
  • Sugary foods, such as soda, overripe fruits, and alcohol
  • Pet food
  • Other types of rotten food, such as rotten potatoes, leftover foods, and onions
  • Anything that has moisture, such as yogurt containers

Why a Maggot Infestation is Bad News

Maggots represent the second stage of the fly life cycle. And should the suitable conditions remain for them, they will develop into adult flies after passing through the pupal stage.

You don’t want these insects in your home for various reasons. That’s because they carry bacteria and viruses that can cause health issues, such as:

  • Food poisoning
  • Dysentery
  • Typhoid fever
  • E. coli bacterial poisoning
  • Eye infections, such as conjunctivitis
  • Tuberculosis (TB)
  • Cholera
  • Yaws
  • Intestinal myiasis
  • Anthrax
  • Tularemia

How to Clean Your Garbage Bins or Trash Bags with Maggots

The moment you realize that your trash cans have been infested with maggots, you are better off emptying the contents of the trash and double bagging the trash can liner. And then, you can use various methods to clean the cans and remove the leftover maggots.

Below are easy ways of cleaning garbage cans with maggots.

1. Use boiling water and dish soap

Using boiling water is one of the easiest ways to clean a trash can with maggots. It’s cheap, fast, and straightforward.

First, you need to try and remove all other types of waste in the can and throw them outside. And then, you can boil water and pour it all over all the grubs you see. The heat will kill the maggots and any eggs you may not see.

Next, using dish soap, make a hot soapy water solution and clean your trash can thoroughly both on the inside and outside, using a brush. Then leave it out to dry.

Remember, plastic trash cans don’t do well when exposed to excess heat because they tend to warp. So, using boiling water to wash them is not a good idea. But it can work well for metal garbage cans.

2. Sanitize the trash can with bleach

Bleach is a common household cleaning solution. And you can use it to clean a garbage can with maggots.

Depending on the size of your trash bin, you can use one or more cups of bleach and mix them with equal parts of water. Next, put the sanitizing bleach solution in a spray bottle and spot spray the empty can while wiping it with a rag. Alternatively, you can pour the mixture into the can all over the infested areas and close the can for thirty minutes.

Once the maggots have suffocated, you can remove the trash liner, scrub the bin with soapy water, and make more of the bleach mixture to sanitize the can before letting it dry.

Remember, hot water will help kill the larvae faster. So, you can use boiling water and bleach.

3. Clean with a vinegar solution

Vinegar is a multi-purpose solution that you can drink and use for cleaning. And it comes in handy when cleaning a trash can with maggots.

Make a cleaning vinegar solution using one part vinegar and two equal parts of hot water. You can spray it inside of the trash can or pour it all over the container. Then wait for about 45 minutes to determine whether the maggots are all dead.

Once you ascertain the maggots are dead, dispose of them, wash the container with soapy water, and rinse with more vinegar solution.

4. Sprinkle salt

When large amounts of salt are poured on live maggots, the tiny creatures become dehydrated. So, it works well for anyone that needs to clean a garbage bin with maggots.

To make the salt more effective, mix it with lime, which is readily available in hardware stores. You can use salt and lime in equal parts and sprinkle the mixture all over the inside of the trash can after you empty it.

You should wait for a while until the larvae are dead, then pour them inside a plastic bag and seal it. After that, wash the bin and dry it before putting another trash can liner.

5. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth

Bodies of water usually contain fossilized algae whose powder makes up diatomaceous earth. It consists of 80 to 90 percent silica. And it is helpful for many things, including the treatment of the human body.

Due to its dehydrating qualities, diatomaceous earth comes in handy to keep your garbage dry and free of flies who like to hatch in moist areas. It is one of the natural ways of doing so and involves simply sprinkling the earth onto the maggots and watching them die. Then you can get rid of the larvae and clean the can as usual before letting it dry.

6. Use an insecticide

You can buy an insecticide that contains permethrin to kill the maggots in your garbage container. And you can do that by spraying the ready-made bug into the can to kill the larvae.

However, you don’t have to buy the insecticide if you have dog shampoo that contains the chemical. Simply one part of your dog shampoo with four equal parts of boiling water and use the resulting mixture to clean the trash bin that had the maggot infestation. Then wait for about an hour before you complete the cleaning process.

Remember to wear gloves and wash your hands with soap and water after you finish handling permethrin. Also, if you have fish or cats, it would be best to use another method since this chemical is harmful to those creatures.

The Best Ways for Keeping Flies Away from Your Trash Can

It would be best if you did everything you can to keep flies away from your garbage in the first place instead of having to deal with maggots. It’s more painless that way.

Below are some of the strategies you can implement to ensure the larvae of flies don’t make a home in your trash can.

1. Empty your garbage often

If you rarely empty your trash can, you may want to reconsider. Dirty garbage cans are the main attraction for flies. So, if possible, try and do that every day, even if your garbage collector doesn’t come around daily.

You can always throw the trash in the large communal trash bins outside. But if such containers are not available, opt for disposal several times a week, such as three or four times.

2. Cover your garbage can at all times

If flies can’t get to your garbage can, they are unlikely to lay eggs that hatch into maggots. So, ensure you cover your trash when it’s not in use.

Remember, a full garbage can will be challenging to cover. So, the more times you get rid of your waste, the easier it will be to keep the garbage bin closed.

And if your garbage has a crack or hole, you should repair it using glue, plastic putty, or soldering irons, among other things.

3. Install chemical garbage can pest strips

Pest strips, such as Terro garbage guard trash can insect killers, are usually installed on the inside part of the trash can lid using an adhesive strip. And they are designed to release a vapor that kills various insects within the bin and, thus, prevent future infestations.

4. Install fly traps

Some fly traps can be attached to the garbage can lids and use the natural garbage smells to attract flies. They have a hole through which flies enter, get stuck, and die. Since the flies cannot access a place to lay eggs that will hatch, you won’t have to worry about maggot problems.

5. Use essential oils

Strong-smelling essential oils from plants, such as peppermint, pine, basil, cloves, eucalyptus, lavender, lemongrass, etc., can repel away flies.

You can pour several drops at the bottom of your trash can liner or create a spray of oil and water (10 drops of oil to two cups of water) and regularly spray the inside and outside of your bin to keep flies away.

6. Use baking soda

Bad smells are a massive attraction to flies. Therefore, you need to keep your trash can as odorless as possible. And baking soda is one way to do that.

Once you finish cleaning your garbage bin, you can sprinkle a cup of baking soda and leave it overnight. Any smells left behind would be gone by the next day because baking soda eliminates bad odor. And your trash bin would be less likely to attract flies if you empty it regularly.

7. Reinforce the can rim with salt

To keep the maggots away from a clean garbage container, apply more salt all around the garbage can rim before closing it.

8. Clean your garbage bin with vinegar solution

Due to the acidic nature of vinegar water and its smell, it works well as a sanitizer to protect your garbage can. So, you can clean with it on a regular basis, such as once a week, to keep maggots away. Also, if there were any remaining eggs, a regular cleaning with vinegar will kill them quickly.

9. Use bug spray

If you have a lot of flies in your home, sooner or later, some of them will land on your garbage can and lay eggs in there. So, you may want to use a bug spray around the trash area just before you open it to use.

It is best to use an aerosol insecticide containing chemicals like permethrin, resmethrin, or tetramethrin. These are usually safe for use around pets and people and produce fast results.

10. Learn to compost correctly

If you have a garden in your yard or balcony, you could embrace composting to manage some of your food waste, especially if your garbage collector does not come around often. But it would help if you opted for a composting bin to reduce flies around your home. Also, ensure your compost heap is not too wet.

And ash could help you with that if you have it. It will help balance the pH of your compost, accelerate the decomposition process, and discourage insects.

11. Manage your waste properly

Ideally, you should avoid throwing your meat waste into your trash can unless you don’t have a choice. In that case, you should seal all your meat and bones. Then you can put them in with the rest of the garbage. They have a tendency to attract lots of flies.

The same rule applies to diapers. You need to double bag them and seal them before putting them in the garbage can. And get rid of them as fast as possible because their smell will attract flies, which will then lay eggs that will bring about maggots in the rest of the waste.

For containers that tend to have moist foods, such as yogurt containers, rinse them first before throwing them in the trash. That way, you will reduce the moisture in the garbage can, which provides a conducive environment for larvae to thrive.

Any food source that enables maggots to thrive should be gone by the next day. But if you cannot do that, you need to keep the flies away from the garbage until garbage disposal day.

In the meantime, if you have maggot problems in your garbage can, boil the tiny creatures, bleach them away, kill them with a vinegar solution, sprinkle salt or diatomaceous earth, or use an insecticide while cleaning the can. And then, take active steps to ensure that they never show up in your trash can again.

Photo of author

Brandi Miles, BSW, MS Human Services

Brandi Miles, BSW, MS Human Services is the mother of two adult children and three beautiful grandchildren. Brandi has 20+ years of experience helping people with developmental disabilities.
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