How to Keep Animals Out of Your Trash

Oh my gosh. The warmer the weather gets, the more of a mess we have from animals breaking into our trash. So, we’ve been gathering up some tips and tricks that we want to share with you about how to keep animals out of your trash.

We have 5 tips for you here that have worked to varying degrees for us. Tip #2 has been the most valuable one for us and we find that a combination of several is ultimately the best way to go.

How to Keep Animals Out of Your Trash

How to Keep Animals Out of Your Trash

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1 – Keep Your Trash Away From the Animals in the First Place

First of all, if there is any way to keep them away from your trash in the first place, do it. You might be able to keep trash cans locked up on your garage, storage shed, or even in a specific trash can enclosure. You can even build your own garbage can shed.

If you can’t keep them away from the wildlife, try to put them out as close to trash collection time as possible.

Pro Tip: We found that the commercial contractor bags are much thicker and harder for animals to break into. They’re also more expensive so we only use those when we are putting out trash that was going to be particularly “attractive” to pests but they were an especially big help before our city started a composting program. You can also try double bagging but even this may not be strong enough to keep out some animals. Whatever you do, remember to use a good quality trash bag and not those thin flimsy ones that are simply an invitation to have them ripped open.

2 – Secure Those Garbage Cans

You need to use trash cans, not bags. Leaving loose bags out is a surefire way of attracting pests and waking up to a mess. We found that even if they say that trash cans are animal-proof, they must not have met the wildlife that lives in our neighborhood because they can still get in.

To make it harder to break in, we use bungee cords criss-crossed over the lids of our trash cans. We find it takes several bungee cords crossing over one another to hold the lid down tightly. We’ve had some pretty talented raccoons manage to work around the cords otherwise.

Pro Tip: You may also want to secure your trash cans in such a way that they can’t be knocked over by animals or the wind. This can be accomplished with a trash enclosure or by staking them down. They’re harder to get into if they’re upright.

3 – Keep the Cans Clean

Wash those trash cans frequently. The cleaner they are, the less likely they are to attract animals. You can also help deter them by placing cotton balls soaked in peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil, or chile pepper oil in the bottoms of the cans.

Spraying the insides of the cans or the trash bags with vinegar may also help keep pests away.

This may or may not work for you depending on the pests you’re dealing with. We have one particular raccoon – the BIGGEST one I’ve ever seen – who seems oblivious to nearly anything we use to deter him.

Pro Tip: There are some commercial animal repellents available that you can also use. I’ve heard good things about the one made for raccoons but haven’t tried it yet myself.

4 – Add Lights to Scare Them Away

Add motion sensor lights to scare them away at night. You may have mixed results with this. We found that after a while the animals in our area were used to the lights and no longer frightened. In fact, we have birds that repeatedly build nests right inside some of our motion sensor lights. However, in combination with some of the other tips, we had better results.

5 – Clean Up Trash Spills Immediately.

Whether you spill trash while taking it out or animals get to it, you need to clean up right away. Pick up all the bits of trash that are left and then scrub down the area with soap and water. Follow up by spraying on one of the items mentioned above as a deterrent.

These tips and tricks can help you prevent animals from breaking into your trash. This will not only help to keep your home clean and sanitary, but also keep animals from being attracted to your home (and potentially, then looking for ways to enter your home).

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