One of the most unpleasant household jobs is cleaning the wheelie bin. A dustbin of any kind is the perfect place for germs to breed because food starts to rot the second it's thrown away. Warm, moist conditions and a nutrient-rich environment create the ideal climate for maggots, too.
Now that councils only empty most bins fortnightly, it's more vital than ever to wash them out regularly and particularly in the summer, when food decomposes even faster.
Cleaning bins with a hose
Lay your wheelie bin or dustbin on its side, so its innards are easily accessible. Rinse it out with a hose (on its most powerful setting) or a pressure washer (such as Karcher) and blast off encrusted and sticky bits of muck.
Wearing rubber gloves, empty the mess down the drain (you'll have to pick out any big bits and thrown them away separately).
Then spray your bin with detergent. Anti-bacterial washing-up liquid is fine, or use a bleach like Domestos mixed with water, or a proprietary bleach or disinfectant spray. You can sometimes use your pressure washer to do this – otherwise just empty some into the bottom of the bin and turn the hose on it.
Leave it to work for a couple of minutes, then rinse from the top down.
Drain the wheelie bin, then leave to dry.
To neutralise odours, pour a small amount of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) in the bottom of the bin.
Getting rid of maggots
Where there's muck there's flies, the saying goes. And where there's flies, there will, in warm weather, be maggots… and you need to get rid of them before they spread.
Take out the maggot-y bin bag, spray the outside and around the top with a bleach or disinfectant spray and rebag it, tying tightly at the top.
Pour almost-boiling water over any maggots that remain in the bin to kill them.
Then disinfect your bin as above, using bleach, to destroy any remaining eggs. (This may discolour a brightly-coloured bin but it's better to be hygienic.)
Keeping bins clean
Put a cover over all food left out in the kitchen, so flies can't lay their eggs on it.
Deter flies with fly papers, fly spray (but be careful when food is around), and/or put fly screens over doors and windows.
Before putting food packaging in the bin, rinse clean of blood and other biological substances.
Before throwing meat or fish scraps, bones, disposable nappies, animal waste or cat litter in the bin, put them in biodegradable bags or wrap securely in newspaper.
Before putting the bin bag in the dustbin, tie the top tightly to prevent anything getting in or out.
In hot weather, empty your indoor bin more often, and try to find a cool place to store your outdoor wheelie bin.
Keep the lid of the wheelie bin fully closed to prevent flies from accessing it to breed. You'll also keep smells trapped inside.
Make sure the bin lid is firmly closed. If you regularly overload it, try to recycle or compost more, or take rubbish to the local tip.
Always wash your hands after touching the bin to prevent germs spreading.
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