How can I prevent my full garbage can from getting really disgusting?
May 30, 2015 3:25 PM   Subscribe

Someone threw lots and lots of crawfish parts in my garbage can, and it's about to get ugly in there. What should I do?

This may be a very New Orleans-centered question, but I hope that everyone can share in my anger at this random nastiness.

When we arrived here, we were taught by friends that if we ever had crawfish, don't leave the post-eating remains in the garbage overnight in the summer, because it quickly becomes a nightmare (maggots, etc.). Our friend even went to the length of bagging them up and freezing them until right before the garbage truck was going to arrive, and throwing them in only then.

Well, someone had a party, and decided that they didn't want the crawfish parts in their own garbage can, so they threw them in ours instead, loose, no bag or anything. There are already lots of flies. I'm in full-on homeowner's high dudgeon here. How dare them! It was clearly premeditated.

We have 36-40 hours before the garbage collection arrives.

Is there any way I can avoid both 1.) having to deal with lots of maggots, and 2.) having to pick the crawfish parts out of my garbage?

I assume pouring lye in there like you do in an outhouse would be a bad idea, since it could eat through the plastic of the can, right? Is there anything else that would work well in this dire situation?
posted by umbĂș to Home & Garden (17 answers total)
Lysol the heck out of it? That's what I use when I have to put meat in my kitchen trash can for more than a day.
posted by IndigoRain at 3:42 PM on May 30, 2015

I feel (smell) your pain! Few things make my blood boil like someone throwing their smelly garbage in my can. People can be so rude.

I would try two things:

1) Empty a box of baking soda over the whole mess.
2) Charcoal. Break it up a little and dump it in.

Hose that thing out after trash pick up and swill a little disinfectant in there to eliminate any lingering odors.
posted by cecic at 3:57 PM on May 30, 2015

Can you just take it to the dump? I can't think of any other option.

(and what arseholes!)
posted by radioamy at 3:57 PM on May 30, 2015

OMG! I feel your pain! It is not strictly a New Orleans thing (well, maybe the crawfish part is, but not the gross people throwing disgusting things in your garbage thing), I live in California and it's happened to me several times and is rage inducing. After the first several times, I used to just clean the can myself with bleach and leave it out in the sun to dry with the lid open, but nowadays, I just call the garbage company and tell them that the can is maggoty and they'll deliver a nice new can within 24 hours free of charge, even if it isn't your garbage day. I hope that your garage company is equally as cool cuz nothing in this world is worse than maggots. Ugh!

P.S. Our garbage company also will replace your can if it's been tagged with graffiti, so keep that in mind too. Another thing, don't put your can out until the night before garbage day (or the morning of, if you can swing that); these creeps tend to pick on people who leave their cans out early.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 3:59 PM on May 30, 2015 [7 favorites]

Seal up the lid, call one of those junk removal companies and get them to take the whole can.
posted by bleep at 4:00 PM on May 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

Just make sure you call first thing Monday morning (if nobody answers the phone on weekends) and talk to a real human. You may have to wait until garbage day, but they'll make a note on your account and remove your old can and replace it with a new or used but clean one.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 4:08 PM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

They were too lazy to bag up and freeze their crawfish leftovers, but not too lazy to go out of their way to dump them in someone else's trash can? People amaze me.

You can mix baking soda and powder bleach to neutralize the odors while simultaneously starting the process of killing/beating down some of the bacteria.

Then do it again after trash day and hose it down; rinse, repeat until you're able to have the trash can replaced.

I'd go ahead and find a way to secure the trash can with a combo lock, because I have a feeling whoever did this will strike again.
posted by nightrecordings at 4:16 PM on May 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

If its a metal trash can, a little fire might be the answer.
posted by blaneyphoto at 4:21 PM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Bleach. Applied liberally.
posted by quince at 4:56 PM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

I would get a couple of large, thick, plastic garbage bags, double or triple bag, place them over your full garbage can and empty the contents into the triple bags and tie the whole mess off. Then wash out your container, and replace the garbage in the can until garbage collection day. Containment.
posted by effluvia at 5:01 PM on May 30, 2015 [5 favorites]

I have never been in this situation, but what about either bleach, or an oxiclean/dishsoap mix? I've killed fruitflies before with a container of water with dishsoap added, left in the sink, and oxiclean seems to kill/clean most nasty stuff. Modifying effluvia's suggestion, what if you made up a five-gallon bucket with warm water with liberal additions of oxiclean powder and dishsoap dissolved into it, and then poured that into the garbage can, swished it around, and then put the lid on it overnight. In the morning, you could do what effluvia suggested: place a double-bagged garbage bag over the mouth of your trashcan, empty the contents in that bag, and then tie it off and send it out on collection day, and then rinse out the can? That might work with bleach too, but bleach might eat through the plastic garbage bag (?) so dishsoap/oxiclean might be safer. It sounds like you might not be able to do effluvia's suggestion without some water to get the pieces to move, though.
posted by ClaireBear at 5:31 PM on May 30, 2015

I suggest emptying a container of the cat litter that us primarily pine shavings. That will provide a physical barrier for flies and the smell.
posted by stormygrey at 5:37 PM on May 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

Do any of your neighbours keep chickens?

Many species of birds love maggots and would be delighted to eat them for you.

Raccoons would eat the crayfish remnants, except for the shells. However raccoons are grubby little critters and bad neighbours. I would be more worried about raccoons than maggots if it were my garbage can.
posted by Jane the Brown at 7:43 PM on May 30, 2015

Actually, a lot of plastics are alkali-resistant, so I wouldn't rule out the lye idea until I found the recycling number on my trash can. I've seen 10M NaOH mixed and stored long-term in a 50mL Falcon centrifuge tube. Here's a forum post where somebody has nicely enumerated the common kinds of plastics with their recycling number and alkali-resistance and heat resistance (the solid lye will get hot when it mixes with water).
posted by d. z. wang at 7:17 AM on May 31, 2015

I'd dump in a bag of spent mushroom compost.
posted by flabdablet at 7:44 AM on May 31, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks all! Great ideas. I ended up using lysol, and then covering it all up by emptying out an entire small bag of kitty litter. Only 18 more hours to go, and there are no flies and almost no stink. So far so good.
posted by umbĂș at 12:14 PM on May 31, 2015 [3 favorites]

Seconding bleach but glad to hear you have it under control.
posted by ostranenie at 4:44 PM on May 31, 2015

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