Keep bugs out of kitchen trash can.

How to Get Rid of Bugs in Your Kitchen Trash Can (Keep Them Out!)

So, you’re sick of seeing bugs crawling around your kitchen garbage.

Roaches, flies, and maybe even maggots. Add in some ants, fruit flies, spiders- the whole party!

This post will cover some basic practices, tips, suggestions, and guidelines to eliminate, repel, and keep bugs out of your kitchen trash can.

You’ll learn:

  • Why bugs are in your trash
  • What are they eating
  • How to naturally repel them
  • How to get rid of them
  • How to keep them out
  • And more

By the need of this page, you should have a good understanding of managing, controlling, and delimiting them.

If you have any questions, just leave a comment and I’ll get back to you!

Let’s send those bugs back to where they came from- outside your property!

Ready? Let’s roll.

Why do I have bugs in the kitchen garbage?

Bugs in kitchen trash can.
Even though this may not be yours, the same concept remains- dirty trash means bugs!

 Bugs are in your kitchen because it provides them with what they need to sustain themselves.

Food, water, and a place to hide. All of them can be found in the kitchen.

There are also microscopic food particles, resides, spills, sticky buildup, and even droplets of juice, soda, or water spilled from the sink!

No one can keep their kitchen 100% clean.

But those who don’t intentionally only make it easier for bugs to infest it. I mean, why wouldn’t they?

You’re basically laying out the food for them to eat everyday!

Where did they come from?

Bugs generally come from- you guessed it. The outdoors.

This is common in homes with lots of foliage around it- shrubs, fruits, veggies, plants, weeds, grasses, etc.

If you have dense plant matter, then it provides a hiding place for lots of different bugs. Small bugs come first and establish a population.

Then carnivores pests that prey on those smaller buggers come. Then you have a working ecosystem in your backyard!


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Since the population is good, they find their way into your home eventually.

The kitchen provides a food source if it’s unkempt, so why wouldn’t they feast there?

It often has water, food bits, residues of sticky drinks, and last night’s meal all in one place. It also has shade, hiding places, plus hides them from predators.

Environmental variables like heat, winter, or competition may force insects into your kitchen. Or if you’re just somewhere where bugs are a nuisance, then that explains it all.

Of course, this varies depending on how well kept your garden is. The same’s goes for your property in general. If both are well-maintained, it makes it difficult for bugs to infest.

How to keep bugs out of your kitchen garbage

Paper balls in trash can.
Paper is edible. Just ask the cockroaches.

Here are some basic practices.

Depending on your specific situation, some may not work for you.

Try them out and see what works for your pest problem. If you have any questions, just post a comment using the form at the end of this guide.

Avoid pesticides

Spray for bugs in trash can.
Insecticides? No way.

The last thing you want in your tomato bisque is bug spray.

Food and insecticides never mix. This is why you should never use any kind of bug spray inside your kitchen.

This is also why I always recommend using DIY home remedies or natural ones instead. It’s safe for your family, pets, and yourself!

Sure, there ARE bug traps, sprays, and even foggers that are approved for indoor use, but I wouldn’t use them before trying to get rid of the pests on my own first.

The good thing about a bug infestation in your kitchen garbage is that it’s limited to one place.

Whether you have garbage flies or cockroaches, there’s a possible solution for you to try around the corner.

(Even mice and, squirrels, chipmunks.)

The bottom line is to NOT use pesticides until you’ve tried all the green or natural solutions first.

If you really want to use a commercial solution, consider traps that use a sticky pad rather than the ones that allow the pests to continue roaming around.

If they eat the bait or walk into the poison, they can continue waltzing around your kitchen counters, dishes, utensils, etc. But the ones that trap them for good keep them in place. Weigh the differences.

Patch up your kitchen

If your kitchen is infested with bugs, it may be good practice to know where they’re coming from.

This is true especially for a continuous infestation that just doesn’t seem to end.

They could be coming in from the outside into your kitchen through some crack, crevice, window, or other entryways into your property.

This is one of the main points I always stress- patching up your home is crucial to keeping it pest-free! This means doing some basic maintenance on the interior and exterior of your property to seal it up from pests.

Think about it: If you have damaged weather-stripping around your patio, bugs can seep in with the breeze. If you have torn or ripped window screening, that’s just asking for flies to come inside.

Doing simple maintenance around the house to fix it up keep bugs out a lot more effective than using bug poison all over your kitchen.

This is called “pest exclusion” and is very popular in the pest control industry. Of course, most homeowners don’t care enough to do it and would rather let their house fall apart than let all the bugs in. That’s when they call for professional help.

You can do this yourself. Or you can hire a contractor to do the work for you.

Look for these key points of entry:

  • Replace damaged weather-stripping around your windows
  • Caulk cracks and crevices in your exterior wall
  • Replace damaged patio, door, or window screens
  • Use a secondary door screen
  • Block door gaps
  • Seal crawl spaces
  • Upgrade doggy doors to double flaps

Everything from flies, houseflies, fleas, roaches, scorpions, or even lizards can find their way in.

Smaller bugs that can fly ride the air currents and find their way in through gaps that lead into your kitchen.

If you patch it up, it eliminates their entry path which further reduces the number of pests inside your property.

Tidy your garden

Clean yard to eradicate crane flies.
A clean yard proves to be less attractive to pests.

Similar to keeping your home in good shape, do the same thing for your garden.

Keeping your garden clean and tidy will help deter pests on the OUTSIDE, which means fewer pets on the INSIDE. Does that make any sense?

If you have little to no bugs in your yard, you’ll have little to no bugs in your house.

If your yard is infested with pests, then you can expect that they’ll find their way into your house for shelter, food, or during the winter.

If your yard is in terrible shape, you’ll want to spend some time fixing it up.

Don’t have the time to do it? Hire a gardener. It pays for itself.

Gardening means something different for everyone.

Do the basics like pruning your plants, removing unnecessary weeds, mowing the lawn, etc. Get rid of any leaf litter or plants you don’t need. Never fertilize if you don’t need to. The plant food is also bug food.

Don’t overwater either. They drink the liquids, especially if it’s trapped in the runway. Basically, don’t let our garden turn into a jungle.

Remove food waste

Dirty dishes bring bugs into the property.
Never leave dishes out overnight.

Food should never be left out in your sink, kitchen counter, table, or plates.

The more food you have lying around, the higher chance of baiting bugs into your kitchen.

The aggregate odor from the food seeps out of the many cracks in your house, and bugs find their way in through these crevices.

While it’s not practical to take out the trash every day, it is practical to clean up after yourself each meal. This means NOT leaving the dishes out overnight.

This means NOT leaving utensils soaking in the sink.

This means putting leftover food in containers then putting them into the fridge- not after they’ve been sitting at room temperature for 5 hours. You get the point.

Take out your trash on time

Trash can with maggots inside.
The trash is a primary attractant for flies.

Similar to not leaving food out in your kitchen, you should also take the trash on time, every time.

This means taking it out as soon as it gets full. Use bags that are self-sealing for ease, or tie a tight double knot to prevent bugs from getting in or out.

If you don’t, you’ll probably see a bunch of bugs infesting your garbage can outside.

Additionally, make sure your trash outside is also a secure one- with a good lid that has no cracks or gaps.

Leaving your trash sitting around will just bring in more bugs, plus let the ones already they’re breed.

For example, if a housefly deposits eggs, leaving them in your trash will just provide them more time to hatch.

Then those maggots will start eating up your garbage. And now you have flies AND worms to deal with.

Use a step trash can

You know those trash cans with the tiny foot lever that controls the top?

Get one. Not only do they help trap the scent inside the garbage, but they also help keeps bugs out.

If the seal is good, it can help naturally deter bugs from getting inside.

Consider getting one that’s taller with a stainless steel exterior. This makes it harder to climb for bugs, easier to clean, and has a durable build.

When you do get one, do NOT leave it in the open position.

Sure, it may be convenient. But you’re defeating the whole point of it.

If a single fly gets in, it’ll lay eggs and you’ll be dealing with maggots the entire week until trash day:

See some step-on trash cans on Amazon.

The last thing you want when enjoying your new plant-based meal is worms. Use the disposal how it was meant o be used.

Use natural repellents

Essential oils keep bugs out of garbage.
Essential oils work when used in one specific area. Spray each garbage bag before you use it.

 There are a TON of natural or organic repellents you can use in or around your trash can keep them out.

Everything from essential oils, herbs, and spices can do the trick. Depending on which kind you use, you can mix it up depending on the pest you’re dealing with.

There’s no single repellent that works for every pest- you’ll need to do your own DD (due diligence) and research it.

Some repellents work more effectively compared to others. It’s always an experiment to find out.

Some of the most popular natural repellents are essential oils. These are volatile liquids that you can spray around the trash can, inside the trash can, or inside each trash bag.

Be sure to spray around the lip of the garbage and around the base, as these two places are where bugs need to cross to get inside.

Well, for the crawling insects anyway.

Essential oils include eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, mint, orange, and garlic.

Some other repellents include herbs, such as basil.

Onion, cinnamon, onion, peppers, cinnamon, and other strongly scented things work.

Again, you’ll need to experiment to find out what’s the most effective.

Get rid of water

Water droplets on kitchen counter.
Splash-splash. Hear those roaches clash!

Bugs will only stay in your kitchen if there’s everything they need to sustain themselves.

Food and water are the biggies. You may think that your garbage only has food in it, but you’re underestimating pests.

They can extract the smallest droplets of water in food- sauces, jams, juices, or even that napkin you used to wipe your hands after washing them.

If you have any standing water on your counters, sink, or that you spilled/dripped on your tiles, clean it up.

Roaches will suck up the smallest droplets of water. Ants will bring water to their nest. Flies will drink up single droplets.

Don’t give them free drinks. Make them pay. There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Build a trash can moat

Okay, this idea is kinda crazy.

But I came up with it after trying to think of a completely natural way to keep bugs out with ZERO sprays or pesticides. Water!

Yes, this idea is mine as I haven’t seen anyone else doing the same. It worked for me, but may not work for you.

Anyway, here’s how it works.

What you’ll need:

  • A large pan with raised edges that’s larger than the base of your kitchen garbage
  • 4 small objects that can hold the trash can up and do NOT float in water (bricks)
  • Water
  • Dish soap (optional, but recommended)

How to build it:

  • Take the bricks and put them in the center of the pan
  • Put the trash can on top of it
  • Fill up the pan with water until you get 1-2cm of water in the pan

You’re done. Now any bugs that try to crawl up your garbage can’t.

How it works:

  • The moat of water surrounds the garbage so bugs are naturally repelled.
  • It requires no sprays, pesticides, or compounds.
  • Replace the water as it evaporates or fills with dead bugs.
  • Watch out for mosquitoes, who may deposit eggs in the water.
  • Put some dish soap to really make it powerful and bait flies into it as well
  • You can also put a small waterproof flashlight next to the garbage then leave it on overnight. It’ll attract bugs to it and they’ll drown in the water.

Let me know if this DIY build worked for you in the comments section!

Sprinkle boric acid

Borax for kitchen bugs.
Borax can also be a good repellent.

Boric acid is a very effective pest killer for crawling bugs. It’s widely accessible, cheap, and simple to use.

You can find it In the cleaning or laundry aisle at most big box stores or home improvement retailers near you.

Buy a box and then sprinkle it around the base of kitchen trash. You can also sprinkle some inside of the trash bag after each meal so that the top layer always has a thin dusting of boric acid.

It works very well against bugs that have hard shells like oriental cockroaches, larder beetles, weevils, spiders, and millipedes.

It can even kill pill bugs, fleas, ticks, worms, and crickets.

It works by dehydrating bugs that come into contact with it by cutting their exoskeleton. They slowly drain precious liquids until they perish. That’s it.

Read the label and use as directed. While it’s generally safe, it does have some warnings.

If you don’t have boric acid, you can substitute kitchen borax instead.

Note that you should keep people, pets, and other creatures away from the boric acid/borax after you apply it.

Read all warnings on the label. Use as directed.

It can be harmful if ingested or touched, even though it’s generally regarded as safe for use.

Use scented bags

There are trash bags you can buy that are designed to reduce the odor from your kitchen trash.

These can help reduce the bugs that rely on their olfactory (smell) to find your tasty garbage. They’re also tougher so they can’t be chewed through and have a good seal to not let bugs in (or out) after you seal it.

For example, these bags on Amazon.

Flies, roaches, rats, and other pests that have strong noses will smell right through it.

But other pests that don’t rely heavily on scent may never locate the garbage.

Use garbage baits

There are some garbage repellents you can buy that are made for this exact purpose.

For example, Garbage Guard by Terro (Amazon).

If you decide to go this route, use it as directed.

They basically sit in your garbage bin and use synthetic compounds to keep bugs out.

Avoid using if possible and stick to the DIY techniques.

Take care of OTHER pest infestations in your house

Tiny black ant eating a leaf.
These pests are no match for the power of DIY solutions!

If you have bugs constantly being discovered in your garbage, but you know for sure they’re not coming in from the outside, then maybe they’re inside your house.

Pests like rice weevils, pantry moths, closet moths, and even bugs on your indoor plants like hostas, cauliflower, basil, cilantro, hibiscus, pinecones, or lantana can be a source of constant infestation.

Pretty much all indoor plants are an excellent hiding place for bugs to breed. The soil, leaves, and water is enough for them to sustain themselves.

If you know you have bugs elsewhere, they need to be eliminated first before you proceed to the trash! Thankfully, I probably have a guide for you.

Do a search on this site to see if there’s a guide! Or ask me directly in eh comments section if you want my thoughts.

Hire a professional

The last choice is to hire a professional pest exterminator.

Some people don’t like to resort to getting a pro. It costs money. But weigh your time vs. hiring someone.

If you do it yourself and you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll spend MORE time and money than hiring someone and cutting your losses.

Unless you don’t mind spending time to learn how to do it for good. So then you can DIY it on your own next time you have a pest problem.

If you do decide to hire someone, consider a local pest control company near you.

Read their online reviews. Call around for quotes. See if they have organic compounds.

They’ll like the business locally and they usually offer free inspections to tell you where the bugs are coming from.

This is ideal if you’re busy.

But these days, who isn’t? Right? This is the real value of it.

How to bug proof kitchen your trash can

Flies in the garbage bin.
Even the smallest piece of litter attracts flies.

As you can see, there are many different ways you keep bugs out of your garbage.

By using a combination of remedies, you can create an effective DIY pest control plan to manage, control, and eradicate bugs in your trash.

Use natural repellents to keep bugs out. Use traps and baits to eliminate them. And practice good hygiene habits and cleanliness to further reduce the number of bugs overall.

It’s a trifecta.

What can I spray on my kitchen garage?

You can spray essential oils, herbal oils, insecticidal soap, dish soap, or even vinegar spray.

All of these will kill bugs, some upon contact.

They also may help clean your kitchen trash to clear up sticky resides, waste buildup, and other foods that bugs eat.

Keeping your garbage clean means fewer pests.

Don’t get me wrong.

Yes, it’s a trash can.

Yes, there’s supposed to be food waste.

But some food waste builds up on the edges of the trash, the base of it, or on the garbage lid.

This should be cleaned up regularly because you can bet your next dinner that bugs will eat it. Especially roaches. Gross.

How do I keep roaches out of my kitchen trash can?

Oriental cockroach eating.
Don’t squish them. They leave behind a scent that attracts others.

Cockroaches. They’re the bane of every kitchen in existence.

Roaches will eat anything- from school glue to paper napkins. Your food waste is like a luxury dinner for them, including your leftover OJ residue from yesterday.

Roaches can be controlled in three ways:

  • Cleaning up the trash
  • Use traps
  • Making it inaccessible (roach exclusion)

You already know about keeping your garbage clean. You should never have food left out, uncleaned spills, or crud building up on the bottom of your garbage. Do regular cleaning.

Traps can be used to help passively catch roaches.

Use sticky traps to instantly trap them when they walk across. Since roaches crawl, you can line the base of your garbage with sticky traps so they need to walk across it to get to it.

Sure, they can fly. But they rarely do. And they’re probably not smart enough o do it to get across a 1” strip of adhesive.

Lastly, exclude the garbage. Use those step on trash cans. Keep it well sealed the rest of the time. If roaches can’t get in overnight, then they can’t infest it.

Take your trash out regularly. Keep the odors down. You can also sprinkle some boric acid around the base or lip of your garage. It kills roaches over time.

They touch the powder which cuts them up. They bring it back to their nest and will perish.

Other roaches eat it, then they get cut up too. it’s a chain reaction, baby!

What can I put in my trash can to keep flies out?

Housefly potted plants.
Houseflies stay in potted plant because of the soil or rotting plant matter.

For flying insects, traditional approaches don’t work. Boric acid, borax, water, dish soap, etc. They all don’t work if the flies…well, fly.

The best way to keep flies out of your kitchen garbage is to use a step-on one with a lid. They won’t fly in through the gaps if they’re small enough.

It’s the easiest solution that I know of. Don’t use traditional garbage cans because they can just fly in. If they do, you’ll see maggots in your garbage.

You can also use fly zappers, fly tape, or fly traps. These all have scented pheromones that bring them in.

If you have fruit flies, a simple mixture of dish soap, vinegar, and water in equal parts should do the trick.

Put a cup near the garbage. They’ll fly into it and drown from the surface tension of the soap. Replace as necessary.

As with any passive approach you use (traps), you can use them to doubly monitor the situation. At first, you should see a bunch of flies getting trapped.

Over time, you should see fewer and fewer.

If it’s not working, try a different solution. Plenty of DIY home remedies out there.

Further reading

You may find these additional resources helpful in your quest to stop those kitchen bugs:

Did you bug-proof your kitchen trash?

Keep bugs out of kitchen garbage bin.
Maggots, worms, roaches, spiders, flies, fleas, ants…garbage bins are always a surprise.

Now that you have a good understanding of the basics, you can go forth and enjoy a “clean” trash can!

It doesn’t take much to get rid of these pests. It just takes a bit of patience, determination, and persistence. Then you can enjoy a pest-free experience every time you toss those apple cores.

Use natural repellents so you can keep them out. Catch them with sticky baits. And keep your disposal spotless! That’s all there is to it.

Do you have any questions about your specific pest infestation? Post a comet and let me know.

If you found this guide somewhat helpful, please let me know as well =].

Consider sharing it with your friends who may get some benefit out of it!

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