Why Does My Trash Can Have Maggots? Causes And Fixes

Tom Gaffey
by Tom Gaffey
Credit: Shutterstock / Birgit Reitz-Hofmann

There’s nothing worse than reaching to take out your trash only to see a bunch of squirmy slimy maggots wiggling around. Maggots are gross, unsanitary, and completely off-putting. So, if you recently discovered some in your trash can, or keep finding them in your trash, then you will want to know why they are there and how you can get rid of them for good.

Maggots are fly larvae, which means if you eliminate flies, you will eliminate maggots. The best way to do this is to seal your trash can, take your trash out frequently, and keep the can in a cool location. You can spray vinegar, bleach, or insecticide to kill maggots. Otherwise, sprinkle diatomaceous earth or even freeze the trash can. Clean trash cans regularly and consider composting to help keep maggots away.

If you notice maggots in your trash can, don’t freak out. You might feel dirty, or like you have somehow neglected your cleaning duties. But maggots can appear very quickly, and almost out of nowhere. The good news is there are many ways to get rid of them and to prevent this problem from occurring again. Keep reading to learn the ways to kill maggots and get rid of them for good.

Four Potential Reasons Your Trash Can Has Maggots

1. You Don’t Empty Your Trash Frequently Enough

One reason people get maggots is because they empty their trash infrequently. Sure, fewer trips to the dumpster means using fewer plastic bags. This is often smart logic. If, however, you live in a warm climate, and have an open-air kitchen, then this may also mean you have a breeding ground for maggots.

It takes less than 24 hours for these slimy larvae to hatch, so keep this in mind when you decide whether or not to let your trash sit for another night.

2. Your Trash Can Is Outside

Maggots need flies to exist. If you put your trash in a location where flies are prevalent, like anywhere outside, then the chance of getting maggots increases. If your outdoor trash can doesn’t have a lid, or has small cracks or vulnerabilities, you put yourself at a high risk for having maggots.

3. Your Trash Can Lid Or Liner Is Not Air-Tight

Most trash cans nowadays have lids that seal tight. This keeps young children and curious pets out of the trash. It also keeps the flies away. If, however, you have a slightly broken trash can, or one that doesn’t close all the way, then flies can reach the rotting trash and lay their eggs.

5. Your Trash Can Is In A Warm Location

If your trash is warm, then it becomes more potent in smell and can start decomposing faster. This smell can attract flies from far away. Even if you have a lid on your trash, flies will hover nearby waiting for a chance to lay their eggs as soon as you lift the lid.

10 Ways To Get Rid Of (And Prevent) Maggots

1. Bleach Them Away

One of the most popular and foolproof ways to kill flies is to use a mixture of bleach and hot water. Bleach is a very effective cleaning chemical, and even the fumes can kill maggots.

For best results, use a spray bottle with equal parts hot water and bleach. Spray the entire can, and close the lid. Let it sit for thirty minutes and then rinse thoroughly. Make sure you don’t spray this solution near your clothing or any material that could stain.

2. Keep Your Lids Sealed Tight

One of the best ways to prevent maggots from appearing is to keep a very tight seal on your trash. This means not only keeping your trash lid closed, but possibly keeping it in a cabinet, giving added protection. Make sure you choose a reliable trash can that has a lid that closes completely, without gaps.

3. Empty And Seal Trash More Frequently

Emptying your trash frequently can also help put a stop to maggots in your trash can. After flies lay their eggs, maggots can develop as soon as 7 hours, but definitely within 24 hours. They thrive on protein, so if you get rid of a chicken carcass or beef bones, dispose of that trash right away. Make sure you close up your trash bag, and inspect the liner for rips, as you don’t want maggots to develop in your outside trash either.

4. Wash Your Trash Can With Hot Water And Vinegar

If you don’t want to use bleach, and instead want a less toxic and more “natural” way to kill maggots in your trash can, consider using vinegar and hot water. Use a 1:2 solution of vinegar and hot water to spray down your infested trash can.

In addition to being less toxic than bleach, vinegar has the added benefit of removing bad odors from your trash can. This is great, as bad smells often accompany maggots.

5. Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth In Your Trash Can

Another holistic approach to getting rid of maggots in your trash can is to sprinkle diatomaceous earth into your trash can. This powdery substance dries out the maggots and cuts them, and it also helps you get rid of ants and other bugs. If you have this product in your kitchen cabinet, you can give it a try.

6. Keep Your Trash Can In A Cool, Dry Place

One way to minimize the risk of maggots in your trash is to keep it in a cool and dry area. Try not to store your trash can next to a heater or any appliance that gives off heat. The warmer your trash can, the more decomposing odors it will produce. This, in turn, will attract more flies. Keep things cool.

7. Spray Insecticide To Kill Maggots And Flies

Maggots might not look like insects, but they are. This means any good bug spray and insecticide will kill them. One benefit is that insecticide kills both maggots and flies. This means you not only get rid of the gross larvae, but also the creature that produces them.

8. Inspect And Repair Window Screens To Keep Flies Away

Another way to prevent maggots from ever appearing is by fly-proofing your home. The best way to keep flies and other insects out of your house is with window screens. If you don’t have window screens on all your windows, consider installing them. Inspect your existing window screens, as you need to repair and replace window screens periodically.

9. Put Organic Matter In An Outdoor Compost Pile

If you have an outdoor space, you might want to consider a compost pile. Not only is a compost pile an environmentally friendly way to produce nutrient-rich soil for your plants, but it can also keep maggots out of your home. If you place all the decomposing natural waste outside, then the maggots will develop in the compost, instead of in your home.

10. Freeze The Trash Can

Lastly, if you find that you have maggots in the wintertime, which is less common but does happen, then simply place your trash in the freezing weather. If you have a smaller trash can, you can also place it in a freezer. This is a good option for those who are afraid to even look at the maggots. Freezing temperatures will kill these larvae.

Wrapping Up How To Get Rid Of Maggots In Your Trash Can

Finding maggots in your home can be very off-putting, and even downright disturbing. While there is no way to eliminate the chance of finding a maggot in your trash, there are many ways to reduce the likelihood of these larvae making an appearance.

Use window screens to keep flies out of the house, and keep your trash can in a cool place. Ensure your trash can is completely closed at all times, and empty your trash frequently. You can use bleach, vinegar, insecticide, or even diatomaceous earth to kill maggots when you see them in your trash can.

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Tom Gaffey
Tom Gaffey

Tom Gaffey is an expert writer who currently resides in Washington D.C. Tom has a passion for real estate and home improvement writing, as well as travel and lifestyle writing. He lived the last twelve years in Hawaii where he worked closely with luxury resorts and event planners, mastering his knowledge of aesthetics and luxury products. This is where he found his passion for home improvement and a keen interest in DIY projects. Currently, Tom resides in Washington D.C, and also working on his debut fiction novel.

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