Stinky Stinky Trash Can Cabinet!

Madeline616September 9, 2011


I'm a clean gal. Some would say obsessively so. But I've been struggling with a stinky trash odor emanating from my under sink cabinet, and I'm not sure what the solution is.

I think my trash is pretty normal as trash coffee grounds or exotic decomposition going on in there, and I change the bag daily.

I use and 5, count 'em 5, odor absorbing devices of varying flavors and types in that darn cabinet.

My question is twofold:

1) Any helpful hints or magical odor absorbing contraptions?

2) Since I'm doing a few changes to the kitchen, I could get one of those dedicated pull-out trash drawers. This would involve an expense for the retrofit, would land the can in a less than ideal spot (to the side in stead of directly under the sink), and I'm not sure if this actually works to contain the odor.

Any advice would be appreciated!

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One thing you can do is wash out the worst offenders. Packaging from raw meat/fish/chicken has to be washed, or if you don't want to do that, stick it in a plastic bag in the freezer until trash day. Most food scraps like peelings and plate scrapings can go in the garbage disposal instead of the trash.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 2:50AM
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Just a thought here but does the cabinet still have odor when the trash can is not in it? Your cabinet interior may have simply absorbed trash odors over time.

If you find that is the case, paint the inside of your cabinet with latex Kilz. Or saturate the interior with an enzyme odor remover like Odoban (Sam's) or any spray that is normally used to remove pet odors like Out! from Walmart.

I have used both the above products with success on weird smells....

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 12:22PM
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Great!! I will follow both of these tips. Yes, the cabinet needs painting with Kiltz (but my painter won't use it b/c of the fumes) I wasn't aware of Odoban. will pick some up.


    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 6:46PM
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Simply explain to your painter to use the "fumes"(the Kilz) to rid you of the fumes. Or find a different painter.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 11:43PM
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How old is your trash can? Plastic trash cans absorb odors over time and can get horribly stinky.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 9:16PM
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I double bag my kitchen trash can. So much easier than having wash out the stinky can. I also bought one without a lid. I like that better. No places for 'gunk' to collect. The bag(s) fit over the top of the can and nothing gets dirty. Should one leak, the 'underbag' catches it.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 10:05PM
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Not sure if this will solve your problem, but I put a one inch or so layer of regular (not clumping) kitty litter in the bottom of my trash cans before I put the bags in. This will catch any leakage from the trash bags that are put in the can and I think helps absorb odors as well.

Since my bags fit well, I don't have to change the litter very often but it works AND any messes are absorbed into the litter making cleaning out the trash can a breeze!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2011 at 2:19PM
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Your painter is insane. At least, the Kilz I use is water-based.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2011 at 10:08PM
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Thanks so much for all of the tips. I will be trying double bagging, kitty litter, etc.

I went to Ben Moore store to buy Kiltz (was going to get another painter to do it), and they told me BIN is what I need. So I bought that. Anyone familiar?

    Bookmark   September 29, 2011 at 10:22AM
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I would suggest you to clean your trash once in a week with baking soda, water and mild detergent solution. This will surely help in eradicating odor from them.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 7:53AM
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I just had a trashcan cabinet put into my kitchen remodel, but haven't used it yet. I was worried about opening a drawer to access trash, but didn't even think about the odor. I am going to be careful of what goes in the trash, double bag and sprinkle baking soda or cat litter in the bottom bag. I also have seen some self adhesive activated charcoal pads in the pet department meant to adhere to the inside of those cat litter box dome containers. They also sell zeolite rocks in a mesh bag in the pet department at Walmart that absorb odors and you can "revitalize" them by placing in the sun for a few hours every month.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 4:37PM
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The 5 odor absorbing devices of various flavors may be your problem.

Our house was smelling bad and I could not find the cause. Our son came to visit and smelled a chemical smell. It was the sprays I had been using in the house. We stopped using the chemical sprays for odors and now our house smells normal again.

Maybe you should take out the odor absorbing items, blow a fan in the cabinet for a couple of days and see if you still have a problem.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 8:52PM
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In most cases it's not the can but the underside of the sink bowls in the cabinet. People tend to not empty the trash often enough and old food gets on the underside of the bowls and smells.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 7:48PM
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We solved this problem when we remodeled our kitchen about 20 years ago. Our Smart Contractor suggested a device that attaches to the inside of a cabinet door (we chose under-sink cabinet) and has two "arms" that hold the handles of a regular plastic grocery store bag. All you do is hang a bag, fill it and then remove and put in outdoor trash can at least once a day. Also, my organic wastes (coffee grounds, egg shells, vegetable peels,etc) go into my outdoor garden compost pile. So kitchen trash is mostly paper anyway. If something happens to spill, I wipe it up quickly using a cleaning product containing bleach, to sanitize.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 9:56AM
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Interesting. We bought a trash compactor when we remodeled 10 years ago. Most people on this forum had nothing good to say about trash compactors siting that the trash smelled and opted for built in trash pullouts. Hummm, and the trash in the built ins don't smell? :o But, I never questioned it. I'm very happy with my trash compactor. We rarely have a stink problem. We can't put food down the sink because of the septic system. We don't compost. Meat trays and milk cartons are washed out. Scraps are wrapped in plastic bags. Sometimes I'll put something in the weekly trash pickup trashcan outside.
I LOVE the idea about double bagging tho! Occasionally something will puncture the bag and I'll have some liquid at the bottom. What a great (and simple idea) Thanks!

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 10:45PM
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For good odor ridding: Renuzit Solid "Super Odor Killer". Available for less than $1 at Walmart. The smell is not pleasant, (like linen) but definitely gets rid of musty & stinky smells and you aren't really aware of the air freshener smell. I place in trash cabinet to keep smell down. I tie up all moist food, such as, banana peels & rinse out or tie in grocery bags food containers I'm not recycling.I keep this air freshener under the sink cabinet that I bring out after cooking onions or other smelly foods, then return. I have one in my upstairs hallway where I don't want to smell "mountain breeze" or "linen", but it seems to get musty smelling.

When having a trash cabinet built make sure the cabinet maker places a wood panel between the trash cabinet & any drawer or other cabinet above. It will also keep smells down or help contain them. Good luck!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 10:51PM
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Someone mentioned your trash can may have absorbed the odors. I have never had that problem, but hey, the containers are cheap, replace it just in case.

Is it possible you have a dead mouse or rat under the floor of your cabinet. The first home we owned was not very mouse proof and I saw a mouse jump up and over the base board under the sink. I lifted the floor section and put Decon under it. Also I had a nasty smell near my trash cart in the garage, but it was clean I never put anything stinky in the trash. After further checking I found a dead rabbit under the steps going into the house. It was strange didn't really smell like a dead animal usually smells, but it stunk.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 1:34AM
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I second the use of pet stain cleaners for the inside of the cabinet... the enzymes break down virtually any organic material and are pretty darn safe. Nature's Miracle is one of the best. Get the one designed for cat messes-it's stronger!
Wipe any visible "stuff" off the cabinet and under side of the sink with a rag and water (no chemicals!). Then spray liberally with the pet stain cleaner and let it air dry without wiping. it takes some time for the enzyme to work but by the time it dries they should have done their job. Be careful with inexpensive cabinets made from composite wood-they will soak up liquids and swell, making the material very weak.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 6:42PM
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I put a box of baking soda in the bottom of my 'stinky trash' bin under the sink. Lay it on its side and poke a dozen holes in it with a sharp pencil. (gotta be firm) and then double bag. I just lift out the top bag and can easily check if it leaked into the second lower one. And sometimes some odd food item misses the 'can' and can sit unaware on the side somewhere in your cabinet....pull everything out and check for something stinky 'lost'.
We had salmon last night and the package was effervescent already this morning with the warmer spring temp. Warm makes rotten smells sooner.
Raw wood does absorb smells, so a sealer, like binn, will help. I used shellac and it is similar...binn is tinted white shellac. (wash and scrub down your inner cabinet first so you will get a good bond. Allow to dry! A pain, but in just a few hours all will be fixed for a very long time.)

I reto-fitted the Ikea pull-out bin but using my own can for wet stinky stuff and under the sink.. Love that i can slide it out with my foot. We compost and have a small stainless pail over our cutting board and i made a 'dry goods' garbage bin to match my teak cabinets attached to the end of the cabinets. (off the floor) and keeps the dogs out.

-i'm off to look for a dead field mouse in my basement. Ugh, i so dislike that smell.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 4:47PM
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My question is why didn't the sliding garbage can come with a lid? That would have solved everyone's problem, at least until the interior of the garbage can started to carry its own lousy smell. But then you could douse it in bleach or whatever you use to de-stink-ify stuff. Or you could simply chuck the old one and buy a new one.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 2:32PM
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In most cases it's not the can but the underside of the sink bowls in the cabinet. People tend to not empty the trash often enough and old food gets on the underside of the bowls and smells.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 9:46PM
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