How to Keep Your Trash Clean

Your priority in cleaning your outdoors rubbish bins is the handles. Your aim is to avoid cross contamination whenever your hands lift the lid to deposit more rubbish. Using heavy-duty cleaning wipes is a fast solution. Keep a pack next to the bin liners and take one outside with you whenever you remember.

After the rubbish has been collected is the obvious time to clean the dustbin. Tip a bucket of diluted bleach into the bottom of metal and rigid plastic bins. Swish up the sides, using a long-handled outdoor brush, then tip down the drain. To dry, invert the bin, using the lid under one side, so that it tilts and doesn’t form a seal on the concrete.

The size of large, wheeled bins makes this all far more of a challenge. Taking care to fill wheelie bins only with rubbish contained in tied sacks means you only need to clean them very occasionally. If the bin’s size means that tipping it up is beyond you, simply wipe the insides with a kitchen cloth mop drenched in a bleach solution. Machine-wash the mop afterwards.

Of course the simplest way to keep your bin clean is to use it less! Recycling glass, cardboard, and textiles has become easier thanks to the door-to-door schemes now in many areas. Do them a favour by always washing out jars and tins first. The following also shouldn’t go into your bin, but should be taken instead to the council waste (hazardous waste) disposal site:

  • Batteries: Including car batteries and down to AAA size.

  • Bulky garden waste: Unless your council runs a scheme that separately collects garden waste, an easier route is simply to start a compost bin in your garden.

  • Flammable substances: Petrol (gasoline), paraffin, and highly flammable spirit oils such as white spirit (turpentine).

  • Gas cylinders: The seller may take back the empty cylinder.

  • Gloss (oil-based) paint: Paint can be highly toxic to the environment and needs to be disposed of properly.

  • Kitchen oil: Grease and oil can clog your pipes and sewers, so never pour it directly down the drain. Instead, once the oil has cooled down a bit, pour it into an old can with a lid (coffee cans are great for this), pop on the lid, and throw the can in the bin.

Items that need extra attention or special disposal include:

  • Emulsion (latex) paint: To prevent spills, including in your own driveway, leave off the lid for a few hours to allow the paint to solidify before putting it in the rubbish bin.

  • Medications: Medicines thrown down the sink add to water contamination and those chucked in the rubbish may end up swallowed by a child. For safety, return to the chemist (pharmacist) or your general practitioner’s surgery (office).

  • Mobile phones: That old mobile phone can’t safely go into the dustbin, because it uses a rechargeable battery. But instead of taking it to the council refuse (hazardous waste site), look out for a charity collection scheme. Handset manufacturers give several pounds for each returned phone and charity shops and even major supermarkets regularly have freepost envelopes that you can use to send off your phone for charity.

  • Sharp glass: Always wrap broken glass securely in thick wads of newspaper before putting it in the rubbish.

  • Solidified fats from cooking: These quickly start free-flowing again out in hot summer temperatures. So place grease in a lidded container, such as an empty margarine tub.

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