How Often to Take Out the Kitchen Trash


We all generate trash, it’s just a fact of being human. Some of us generate more trash than others – a lot more. So, how do you compare to others? Or should I ask, what is the situation?

If you’re like me, you want to get the max benefit of the trash can liner you paid for. If I had to remove a half full trash bag just because it was stinky, I would be a bit very annoyed.

Let’s face it, we all have different rates of speed that the kitchen trash can fills up. A family member of mine (whose identity is protected) brought a 30 gallon waste can into the kitchen – permanently. It was a good-size family and I would be lying if I didn’t say I had total respect for her.

How often to take out the trash

Folks, if it stinks, you gotta take your trash out. There is a reason health officials have determined that weekly garbage pick-ups are necessary.

As a guideline, kitchen trash should be removed once a week, unless there is decomposing food that is adding offensive odors to the kitchen space. Best practice is to put food in a separate container and remove it immediately from the kitchen space.

Best practice:

  • remove food scraps daily or every few days from kitchen
  • remove other trash from house when full

Please use common sense in hot and humid weather. It’s the perfect  environment for “cooking” your garbage, attracting flies, and the flies laying eggs and hatching. If you have a holding place (a cool garage) to avoid the worst weather, that would delay the stink process.

Taking trash out doesn’t have to match up with a paid garbage pickup schedule (most homeowners get bi-weekly or weekly pickup). It’s important to remove garbage from your home to an outside receptacle until a garbage pickup service comes, or you can take your garbage away.

Apartment owners may have access to a dumpster or even a concierge/valet service that picks it up outside the apartment door. Rural residents are not so lucky and may have to haul their garbage to a garbage dump themselves.

If you have found some good garbage can strategies, please leave in the comments below. If you can get your family to take out the trash – we need to talk!

how often to take out kitchen trash

All family members can help take out kitchen trash.

Garbage can strategies

You may naturally think that a trash can with lid can keep food odors at bay. It doesn’t. It does help to tie off or seal a garbage bag as soon as smells get to be too much. Again, remember that food is the culprit, and treating food scraps separately from paper and plastic waste is a good idea.

For example, you could have a composter or separate food scrap bucket that is taken out of the kitchen. Some people are fortunate enough to put their food scraps in their garden (food scraps should be buried to discourage animals from foraging). When I grew up, the food scraps went to the pigs, which some people still do.

If you are in a cold climate, or seasonally cold, garbage can be placed outside. The cold slows down the decomposition process – the part that makes garbage smelly.

If your kitchen trash can is not often full weekly, consider resizing your kitchen trash can to fit your garbage output. Another idea is to reduce garbage output. This can be done by:

  • shopping with a food bag, purchasing foods without packaging
  • shop at farmer’s markets
  • recycle what you can

In the last example, my family reads newspapers in the kitchen. Newspapers can be recycled in their own paper recycling container. Otherwise, our kitchen waste can would fill up quickly, just due to dropping in weekly newspapers.

What makes trash stink the most

Hands down, food waste stinks the most, often within a day or two. What I have found to be the absolute worst is chicken packaging. It’s the raw meat and juice, especially soaked into the bottom pad of the chicken packaging that is the culprit. If the packaging is placed in the kitchen trash can in the evening, it’s smelling by the morning.

Getting roommates and family members to take out trash

As far as I am concerned, it’s all hands on deck taking care of the home or apartment waste. My opinion is not necessarily everyone else’s opinion (or priority!).

I do commiserate with you if you have roommates, as each person has their own set of trash standards. My son tells the story of how one of his college roommates would take everything into his bedroom to eat and close the door. The guy left for a period of time, and slowly an odor started  to permeate throughout the apartment. It wasn’t long, and soon a liquid was coming out from under the door…

I’ve only have one word for that: cockroaches. Removing trash from your home/apartment reduces pests. Taking out the trash is a life skill. The sooner people master it, the better humankind will be. 

About the author 

Renee Matt

Renee is a former kitchen designer, home remodeling enthusiast (having lived through several DIY projects), and an Iowa farmwife. Renee is passionate about preparedness, garden skills, and knowing where her food comes from. Years of being a stay-at-home mom and supporting the family farm with hearty meals has been key to Renee's pantry readiness. She uses her professional IT background and expertise to bring the Everything Pantry website to life.

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