So, you have maggots in your garbage bin.
You’re tired of popping the trash can lid only to see them squirming around in yesterday’s short ribs.
You’re tired of having the garbage truck come to swoop by only to see them crawling on the sides and bottom of your wheelie bin.
And you’re especially tired of seeing them on the top layer of garbage every time you take out the trash. Disgusting.
Thankfully, these pests aren’t too difficult to get rid of.
On this page, you’ll find out:
- Why they’re attracted to your garbage
- What they’re eating
- Natural ways to get rid of maggots
- How to keep maggots and flies out of your garbage
- And more
Sound good? Let’s go dumpster diving.
What’s a maggot?
A maggot is the larva form of a fly. It’s between the egg and pupa parts of the medicinal maggot (Lucilia sericata).
Its only job is to eat and get big enough to pupate by consuming waste and debris.
This is when homeowners see them eating their garbage and want to get rid of them right away because of their uncanny appearance. They do carry some transitive bacteria as well.
Keeping your trash clean, setting up repellents, and regularly doing maintenance is good practice.
A maggot often gets confused with a worm, grub, or caterpillar. The terms are often used interchangeably.
But if you see a white, rice-like grain of a bug squirming around in your trash, you can almost be sure it’s a maggot.
Maggots are tiny and hatch from eggs that are laid by flies. They look like small, white, or yellow segmented dry pests.
They have visible black spots on their face (eyes) and sometimes black spots going down their backs.
These are fly larvae and their only task is to consume decaying organic matter.
When they eat enough, they’ll pupate and transform into an adult fly.
Life cycle of a maggot (fly)
The lifecycle of a maggot is simple.
An adult fly deposits eggs, which hatch within 24 hours into small larvae.
These are the maggots you see in your trash. They just eat nonstop for 3-7 days, which they’ll continually get larger over time.
After they’ve eaten enough, they’ll pupate by forming a pupa and emerge as an adult fly 6-14 days later.
Variables such as food availability and temperature both play a role in how fast the cycle completes.
Why do I have maggots in my trash?
It really should be no surprise. Maggots are the larvae form of the common housefly, which has a stereotype for hanging around trash cans, waste, and feces.
Flies need a place that has plenty of food for their young (the maggots), so they look for debris and protection from predators.
Your trash can has a ton of available food, water, and it’s dark and hidden from things that may eat the eggs or maggots.
Therefore, garbage is a prime real estate for maggots.
Your trash has everything they could ever want to thrive peacefully without a single care in the bug world!
Is it normal to have maggots in the trash?
No, not really.
Maggots are a sign of a fly infestation whenever you keep your trash. If they’ve always been an issue, then you may be used to it.
But in actuality, your trash should be free of maggots and flies. Flies carry all sorts of disease vectors such as Jeotgalicoccus, Macrococcus, and Staphylococcus.
And if you have them buzzing around your property, it just increases the chance of getting some nasty bacteria or virus transmission.
Who wants to deal with flies every time they take out the trash?
Especially if you’re a hypochondriac.
When are maggots most active?
Fly activity peaks around the summer when temperatures pick up.
During this time, flies are out and about doing their thing. The warmth in the air also makes the odors from the bin smell stronger.
This attracts flies like crazy. They’ll swarm your garbage every time you open the lid without you knowing. They can also get in through cracks and poor seals around the lid.
Once inside, they’ll start depositing eggs in the hundreds. The maggots hatch and then start consuming your trash. And the cycle repeats.
Flies can complete their lifecycle from maggot to adult before you even toss out the week’s trash.
When you see small flies coming out every time you throw out the trash, those could be new, younger flies that just completed pupation.
Plus, if you never clean out your trash, eggs can stick to the edges and you can have multiple generations of flies coming in and out and building up over time.
What are they eating?
Everything. They’re especially attracted to exposed, rotting foods that are soft and easy to digest.
Some of their favorite foods are old meat, pet food, soda residue, spoiled goods, rotting fruit, veggies, leftovers, and more. They’re not picky.
Their only goal is to eat the food and grow until they can pupate into an adult fly.
What do maggots turn into?
A maggot turns into a fly. It’s the larval form of an adult common housefly.
Although maggots aren’t exclusive to flies, these are common enough to be a nuisance around disposals, dumpsters, and recyclables.
Will my garbage company take garbage with maggots?
Most companies don’t care whether or not your trash has maggots.
They don’t inspect it and will just drive by, park, and scoop up your trash and dump it.
I haven’t heard of any company refusing to take trash because it’s infested unless they do it manually or check it before they take it.
How to get rid of maggots in the garbage can
Here are some different techniques you can do at home to naturally remove, eliminate, and repel flies and maggots from your trash.
Use a variety of different method at the same time for best effect. This means choosing a method to eradicate them combined together with something to repel them (for example: dish soap and lavender oil).
Scan through this list of remedies and try a few out. See what works for you.
Wait for the trash collection
The easiest way is to just wait for the trash collection company to come to take your garbage.
After they dump it out, a thorough cleaning can be done to get rid of any maggots left in the garbage bin. You’ll want to use a solution of soap and water to kill any maggots remaining in there.
The ratio is 3 tablespoons per liter of water, but you can add more if needed.
Mix the solution and then either pour it directly into the trash bin and let it sit or use it in a hose attachment and spray down the sides.
Either way, the soapy water will collect at the bottom of the trash bin and kill any maggots remaining. Their eggs will suffocate and become destroyed by the soap also.
Use a hose and spray down the sides after a few minutes. Remember to let it sit for a bit so the water and soap can kill whatever’s left over at the bottom of your trash.
If you spray too early, you dilute the mixture and it becomes less effective at killing the pests.
So eventually, all the maggots and eggs should be sprayed down to the bottom of your trash can into the soapy mixture.
When it’s clean, dump out the water into a nearby drain. Turn the garbage can upside down to let it drain out.
This method is safe and doesn’t use any harmful compounds.
Just make sure you wear some goggles, gloves, and proper clothing so you don’t spray any bacteria or viruses onto yourself.
Take a shower after you’re done cleaning it out.
Scrape out the residues stuck to the bottom of your trash can
For those sticky bottom bins, you’ll want to remove that junk ASAP.
This is something you’ll want to clean up right away or else you’ll end up attracting flies to your bin nonstop.
The gunk buildup at the very bottom often includes a mixture of gum, sticky foods, soda, juice, dry grains, oils, water, bones, and more.
This is a delicious soup full of nutrients for maggots, so they’ll gladly bathe themselves in it.
Remove stuck resides at the bottom of your garbage with a gunk remover.
You can also soak vinegar, water, and baking soda, or a mixture of soap and water. Let it sit overnight and then scrub it out the next day.
Don’t ignore it as this will attract maggots to your garbage bin over and over until you clean it up. Flies can sense the slightest odors and motions.
Use boiling water
One quick way to kill the maggots in your garbage bin is to pour some boiling water into the container.
This will instantly kill all the eggs, flies, and larvae crawling around.
Of course, do this on trash day after it’s been collected. Take as many trips as you need until you cover all sides of the bin.
This will also disinfect it to some degree, but you should use a commercial disinfectant or vinegar to do the job.
While boiling water works, it doesn’t prevent flies from coming back as soon as you toss in your trash bag full of goodies.
And of course, be careful when handling hot water.
Clean with vinegar
Vinegar has disinfecting properties and will kill larvae, flies, and their unhatched eggs.
Use pure vinegar and combine equal parts with water.
Use it to clean the inside of your bin. This will eradicate a bunch of bacteria, viruses, pests, and even deter flies from coming back for a short period.
The vinegar will clean the scents that attract flies to your garbage bin. If you do this weekly, you eliminate the risk of pests by a huge percentage.
Use trash bags that can be tied
Trash bags with secure zip ties on them can help eliminate flies from getting into it.
Since they can’t chew through thick plastic, they’re effective in keeping flies away from your garbage since they have nothing to eat.
This will also help deter them from despoing eggs.
Or use scented bags
Scented trash bags can help reduce the chances of flies finding your food.
They rely on their sharp odor receptacles to pick up scents.
If your garbage bags have odor-eliminating properties, this can make it harder for them to locate your trash bin and infest it.
Get a secure lid
Make sure that your garbage bin has a secure lid with a seal all the way around.
Most wheelie bins do have a lip that keeps small bugs out.
They usually have a raised lip that helps block out larger pests. But smaller ones can still sneak inside, depending on the design of your trash bin.
You can insulate it by adding a small layer of caulk or silicone sealant around the edge of the lid so it’s flush.
This will help block out odors from attracting flies and keep the smallest of bugs out.
Make sure that there’s no damage to your bin either. A crack or bent piece of plastic can both allow bugs right into your trash.
Toss out the trash at night
When you take out the trash, every time you open the lid, you allow the smallest fly to sneak in and start laying eggs.
They buzz around the garbage because of the foul odor and once you pop the lid, the scent multiplies and they go crazy.
Once it sneaks it, it’s very difficult to get it back out. Flies are active during the daytime
If you toss your trash at night, there’s less of a possibility that flies will get inside. No flies? No problem.
Use fly tape
Fly tape is a quick and easy solution to snatch up those pesky flies that are buzzing around your garbage.
Most hardware stores sell fly tape for cheap. Use as directed.
The tape is stuck around the lid and the rim of your trash bin to catch any flies that try to make their way in. it’s easy enough to use plus lasts a long time.
If you want a passive way to catch flies for weeks to come, consider just using some fly tape around your waste. Note that rain and wind will affect the effectiveness of it.
So you may need to reapply if it gets weathered.
You can also set up fly traps around your garbage cans to catch any flies that are hanging out waiting to get inside.
Flytraps are baited with a chemical lure that flies can’t resist so they fly into it, rather than your trash.
Once inside, they either get stuck to an adhesive or they can’t get back out of the funnel entryway.
Either way, hang a few of these around your trash, compost, or recyclables to keep flies out. No flies, no maggots, no problem.
Note that some fly traps are best used when SPACED out from one another.
You may think that cramming as many as you can in a tight space will only help- but it doesn’t.
Sometimes the lure works best when isolated. It’s awkward, but that’s how it is. Use as directed.
Spray essential oils
Essential oils are a completely natural (and sometimes organic) way to keep flies away from your trash can.
Note that even though the FLIES are repulsed by the scent of essential oils, the maggots may not care.
But the point is: If you keep the flies out, you’ll keep the maggots out also.
Essential oils can be purchased by the bottle.
You’ll have to dilute it using water, as it’s way too concentrated straight out of the container. Add a few drops of oil per liter of water.
Then pour it into a spray bottle and spray it on your wheelie bin.
Get the inside walls, under the lid, and around the rim of the lid on the outside. If it’s not strong enough, use more oil or less water.
You should be able to smell it easily from a few feet away.
Some of the best oils to use to repel flies are:
- Orange oil
- Lime oil
- Citrus oils
- Apple cider vinegar
- Potpourri oil
There are also oil release diffusers you can buy which emit the oil out at a slow pace.
Consider getting one if you don’t want to keep spraying it each time. Similar to sticky tape, the rain and wind can affect the efficacy of the oil’s repelling nature.
Regardless, essential oils are an effective and natural way to keep flies and maggots out of the trash. If one oil doesn’t seem to work, use a different one.
Will bleach kill maggots?
Yes, bleach will kill maggots and their eggs. It’s good practice to do a full bleach of your trash bin now and then.
When you have a maggot problem, wait for the trash collection company to get it. Then when you have an empty bin, clean it out with bleach for a purge.
If you don’t mind using chemicals to clean it and need something stronger than vinegar, use bleach.
It’ll disinfect your entire trash thoroughly so you can start with a clean slate.
Does Dawn dish soap kill maggots?
Dawn dish soap eliminates any remaining fly larvae and cleans up residues stuck on the edges and bottom of your trash.
You can use it to supplement your cleaning process. It doesn’t have to be Dawn, as any generic dish soap works well.
Mothballs have been speculated to work as a repellent. If you have some lying around, you can toss them into the garbage.
Since they have lids, the toxic fumes emitting from the mothballs (naphthalene) kills any flies and maggots inside the bin.
So when you pop that lid open, you’re exposing yourself to a rush of trapped chemicals.
So use caution and wear proper PPE to protect yourself. Mothballs work best in small, enclosed containers. And your garbage is a prime candidate.
Does salt kill maggots?
Salt kills maggots upon contact.
If you have a bunch of them crawling around the wheels or base of your trash, sprinkle salt directly onto them to kill them.
Of course, this isn’t efficient when you dump salt into the trash.
However, you can pour some at the base of the bin every time it’s emptied. This will stop any maggots from crawling around at the bottom for the next week until the garbage truck comes around again.
Does direct sunlight kill maggots?
Maggots can be killed by strong light according to some studies. But sun also heats up the bin and attracts them.
But relying on the sun to do the dirty work isn’t efficient and may not be strong enough to do any damage.
If you’ve tried a bunch of home solutions/remedies and they aren’t working, use store-bought commercial solutions as a last resort
Often, these will include harmful compounds that are bad for you, the ecosystem, and the environment.
But if you need to handle that maggot problem ASAP, consider using them only after you’ve tried other natural techniques.
Here are some of the most effective compounds/sprays you can utilize for maggots.
This is a fly repellent spray for the garbage.
Permethrin is a powerful compound that kills and repels over 50 different types of insects.
You can pick up permethrin at your local hardware store. Use as directed.
Flea soap is commonly marketed for dogs, but you can use the same solution for your trash can.
Dilute it with water and use a brush to clean your trash. this can be used in place of bleach or vinegar if you spot newly hatched maggots all the time.
Since it contains various compounds that eliminate fleas and their eggs, it’s more effective than plain vinegar. Flea soap often has a water base with added essential oils for aroma.
Terro Garbage Guard
This is a product made especially for keeping flies and maggots out of the trash.
It’s a small rectangular piece of plastic that releases vapor into the trash to kill maggots and other pests.
It works similar to mothballs by releasing a toxic fume that deeply penetrates your entire trash.
Similar to naphthalene, it works best when trapped in a small enclosed space.
You peel and stick the trap to your trash can and shut the lid. If your trash has openings, this will render it useless as the fumes just escape.
Each trap lasts up to 120 days and can be had for under $8 from a quick search online.
The vapor is odorless so you won’t smell anything but will kill a variety of crawling insects (and flying ones) like flies, spiders, silverfish, gnats, mosquitoes, beetles, roaches, spiders mites, worms, pincher bugs, and more.
So if you have any of these pests around your compost, trash, or recyclables, consider this product.
Use as directed on your garage trash cans, outdoor disposal bins, or even dumpsters. This is a cheap and effective way to keep flies away from your trash.
I have fruit flies in my trash can
If you have fruit flies in your trash, the same methods outlined here should work the same on them.
They’re largely similar in characteristics, habitat, and things they despise as repellents.
Clean out your trash, set up repellents/traps, and use sealed bags with completely sealed garbage for best effect. Follow the various home remedies above.
I have gnats in my trash can
Gnats are easier to control than maggots in my opinion. They’re a lot smaller, so identifying them may be difficult.
But similar to fruit flies, gnats can be taken care of quite easily.
Just like flies, keep your trash clean and tidy to make it not as appealing to pests.
Use a combo of essential oils to repel them, sticky traps to kill them, and mothballs or a commercial solution to keep them out.
You can also refer to this guide on getting rid of gnats.
Here are some additional resources you may find helpful:
- Housefly – Musca domestica Linnaeus – UFL
- House Fly Maggot – Diptera: Muscidae – VCE Publications
- The House Fly and Other Filth Flies Prevention and Control – IL State
Now you can keep ALL the flies and maggots OUT
Well, you should now have a good list of ideas to keep those disgusting maggots out of your trash can.
Try a few of these home remedies out and see what works for you. The best way to go about it is to first clean out your trash thoroughly.
Then add repellents on the inside and outside. And top it off with some traps if needed.
Use odor-blocking bags if possible. And repair and seal up your trash disposal completely while dumping out the garbage at night only.
These tips should keep flies out and get rid of them for good.
Do you have any questions? Or do you have any tips to share with other readers? What worked for you? What didn’t?
Post a comment in the section below and let us know.
If you found this page helpful, let me know as well! Consider telling a friend if you found it helpful.
Thanks for reading.
Currently an active researcher in the pest control industry for the past 8 years- with a focus on using natural and organic methods to eliminate pest problems.
I share handy DIY pest techniques I come across here to help out others (and possibly save them from a mental breakdown).
Fight nature with nature.