Why Green Bins Smell And How To Fix Yours

Household bins

Green bins reduce the waste that goes to landfills. But they tend to reek. Here’s how you can solve the stench for good.

Green bins have a habit of smelling bad. Most remedies focus on the cause of odours, which includes humidity, bacteria, decomposition, and adding too much meat. Getting rid of green bin smells can be as simple as sprinkling baking soda, leaving the bin open, and cleaning the bin between collections.

A smelly green bin is not just awful for your nose. It can also pose a health hazard. Learn how to keep your green bin hygienic and free of odours. 

The Reason Your Green Bin Has A Bad Smell

One word? Bacteria. 

Green bins contain biodegradable materials like food, boxes, bones, and meat. When such materials are kept in a warm, enclosed plastic container like a bin, decomposition can speed up. Bacteria thrive in humid conditions and as they multiply, they cause a bad smell to come from the green bin.

If you are currently facing this nose-wrenching problem, the way forward is to deal with the things that make those bacterial goobers so comfy. 

  1. Prevent hot and stuffy conditions.
  2. Try to keep things as dry as possible.
  3. Reduce the things that cause the worst smells.
  4. Keep the bin clean.
  5. Get rid of the green bin’s contents as soon as possible.
  6. You can also use odour-fighting products.

Keep The Green Bin Cool And Airy

On collection day, your green bin will most likely be standing out in the sun. But during the rest of the time, find a better spot. Choose a shady area that stays cool, preferably for most of the day. This will slow down the decomposition of organic waste and also make the bacteria more sluggish. 

Here are some more tips for wheelie bin storage.

To make your bin smell better, it might help to open the lid. The odours will leave the container and stop bugging you. However, do not leave your bin open under the following circumstances:

  • The smell is really bad and opening the lid makes the house or garden reek.
  • Wild animals and cats frequent your garden. If cats are making a nuisance of themselves, have a look at the best cat repellents.
  • The bin has no protection from the rain.
squirrel in a bin

Keep The Contents Of The Green Bin As Dry As Possible

Bacteria love a humid environment. That is why it is important to keep the green bin cool and also dry. There is a slight problem, though. Organic and biodegradable waste can be difficult to keep dry. Meat is squishy, there are tea bags, and decomposing peels get mushy. While none of these is a waterfall, they all add moisture to the green bin. 

Here are the best tips to reduce the amount of wetness that end up in your green bin.

  • Keep your bin out of the rain, even when the lid is closed.
  • Squeeze the liquid from tea bags before you throw them in the bin. Tea bag juice is a notorious liquid that can stink up any garbage bin.
  • Use layers of moisture-absorbing material. Examples include newspaper and old bread.
  • You can also thoroughly wrap an offending piece of food in several layers of newspaper before you place it inside the bin.
  • Line your green bin with newspaper to help absorb any excess moisture created by the food scraps.

Reduce The Items That Cause Bad Smells

One of the worst offenders is meat. Red meat and fish get particularly stinky when they are kept inside a green bin. Indeed, there is really nothing quite as stomach-lurching as smelling rotting meat. Worse, they attract flies, maggots, and scavenger animals to visit your garden. 

This does not mean you must now stop placing meat inside your green bin. That would defeat the purpose of these environmentally-friendly tools. Nope. There is actually a great solution to the problem. Do not place your meat and bone scraps immediately inside the green bin. Rather stick them in the freezer. When collection day rolls around, simply take the meat or fish from the freezer and put them in the green bin. 

Remember not to freeze your meat or fish in plastic bags. These cannot go into a green bin. A better choice would be a biodegradable bag or keep the scraps in a plastic container that allows you to tip the meat into the green bin.

You can also reduce odour-causing waste by learning how to make a kitchen compost bin.

Keep The Green Bin Clean

Great. Another chore. But you won’t regret it. Giving your green bin a good once-over is a powerful way to get odours and to keep them away for good. Make it a rule to rinse your green bin on the day of the collection after it has been emptied. 

Here are some of the best tips to clean your green bin.

  • Give it a good spray inside and out with the garden hose. Even better, use a pressure washer. See the best pressure washers that are available.
  • Rinse it with soapy water. You can use dishwashing liquid. If possible, try to use biodegradable dishwashing liquid since most people allow the water to drain directly on to the ground.
  • Make a rinse of vinegar, a known odour-fighting agent. Do not use diluted vinegar or imitation vinegar. You can save by soaking a sponge in vinegar and giving the sides of the bin a good wiping. If you have a window-cleaning tool, the kind with a telescopic handle, it will do a great job.
  • After you washed your green bin, keep the lid open and let the inside dry completely before you close it or use the bin.

Do Not Skip Collection Day

boy taking bin out for collection

The faster you get rid of your organic waste, the better. It does not matter that the bin is three-quarters empty. Do not keep your bin until it is full - unless you normally fill a bin up by the time it is collection day. If not, the waste will rot for two or three weeks. Letting any small amount go - and thoroughly cleaning the bin afterwards - are perhaps the two most important rules to prevent odours.

Use Odour-Fighting Products

Keep it green! If you want to go to the store and purchase a deodorant, make sure that it is organic. But there are several “home remedies” you can try and since you probably already have them in the home, they won’t cost you a thing. 

  • Baking soda is king when it comes to killing odours. It is also cheap if you don’t have a box in the pantry. Sprinkle a layer on the bottom of your empty, dry bin. You can also add a light layer of soda every time you add something to the bin.
  • If you have a few bad lemons you can also stick them in there. Lemons won’t kill the bacteria or get rid of the smells but they do a pretty good job of masking odours with their own lemony tang.

A Quick Summary On Keeping Green Bins Odour-Free

  • Odours in green bins are largely due to bacterial activity.
  • You can get rid of odours by keeping a green bin cool, dry, airy, and clean.
  • Put your green bin out every collection day, no matter how little waste it contains.
  • Natural remedies like baking soda and lemons can also fight odours.

About the Author Harry Thompson

Gaining a BSc Honours in building/ property maintenance at the University of Portsmouth Harry went into the field of renovating properties. Along the journey, he has developed a wide variety of home & garden DIY skills such as installing new kitchens and landscaping gardens.