Keeping Animals Out of Your Garbage

Keeping Animals Out of Your Garbage, Raccoon Scavenging Garbage
Whether it's neighborhood dogs, raccoons or some other animal, if they are getting into your garbage it's bound to be a mess. Keep unwanted animals out of your garbage with these handy tips. This is a page about keeping animals out of your garbage.


This page contains the following solutions.

Recently someone asked about keeping pets/animals from tearing open garbage bags. I don't have that problem now, but I learned this trick from my mother years ago. Before tying off your garbage bag, pour a dab of ammonia in the bag. When an animal tries to tear it open and gets a whiff of the ammonia, it will be long gone.

By Linda from Bloomington, IL from Bloomington, IL



October 1, 20102 found this helpful
Top Comment

I know a black bear isn't a pet, but the ammonia in the garbage does not work to keep him/her out. The garbage is next to my carport so I wanted the bears to stop pushing the thing over and spreading the contents down to the creek. It was my husband's job to pick garbage up after the bears.


After realizing that the bear was still getting into my garbage, I had the sickest feeling in the pit of my stomach that I may have harmed the bear with the ammonia. I just about cried. No, I did cry.

The best idea I came up with is leaving the radio on during the night with a light shining at the garbage container. I have not had to pick up bear poop since. (Giggle) They may think that the radio is a bunch of campers. And that the light is the campfire.

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10 Questions

Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

October 6, 2008

We have been having a problem in my neighborhood for the last 2-3 months with some animal (we assume it is a dog) coming in the middle of the night, knocking over trash cans, dragging the trash bag out of it, and then dragging the trash bag into someone else's yard (mostly mine) and digging through the bag.

I have contacted animal control and was informed that the small city that I live in only contracts for 1 hour of county animal control services a month. So they may or may not be able to catch the dog. I have bought dog repellent granules from Home Depot, they worked about 1 week. I have tried black pepper, red pepper and chili powder.

I have sprayed my can repeatedly with bleach which keeps them out of my garbage. I have even sprinkled bleach around the perimeter of my yard. This is getting expensive. Does anyone have any other suggestions? Has anyone tried the ultrasonic dog repellents in the yard, do they work?



By (Guest Post)
October 6, 20081 found this helpful
Best Answer

We keep a stretchable bungee cord across the top of our garbage containers. It is tight and hooked to the handles on the container. If I have food in the container I use two bungee cords that are crisscrossed. I try to keep the food scraps in the freezer until time to take the trash off especially during the summer months. This keeps the garbage from attracting flies and smelling.

Our two containers are small and easy to handle so when it's time to take the trash to the dump, we put them in the back of the truck. With the bungee cord holding the lid on tight, there's no risk of the lid blowing off and us losing trash out of the back of our truck.

November 20, 20081 found this helpful
Best Answer

Install motion sensor lights or noise machines (discount spooky halloween sound machines are good), or motion sensored sprinkler systems, keep garbage inside garage until trash day, use bungy cords on lids, recycling and composting produces less trash for critters to go through...


Don't use bleach - Toxins produced as a result of bleach use build up in the environment, cause dangers to the water supply, kill fish, harm animals, and get back to people through the food chain.

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March 15, 2007

Does anyone out there know what I can use to keep the squirrels from eating out of my garbage can... and yes, I do have a lid but that doesn't work.

Adele from Belford, New Jersey


March 19, 20070 found this helpful
Best Answer

We use hot red pepper in our bird feeder. Since birds don't have salivary glands, they can't taste it. But, boy-oh-boy, the squirrels can! They leave the bird feeder alone. Once in a while, one will try to see if the pepper is gone, but quickly leaves! Only problem with the pepper would be if the trash collectors "get wind" if it.


Another trick would be to put a metal nut on each side of the can and bungi the lid shut. Never have known a squirrel who can figure out a bungi cord!

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June 10, 2013

I live in a wooded area and am aware there is wildlife around. There has been an animal chewing at my trash can lid and took a large portion off of it. I'm wondering what animal would do this. And how I could prevent this from happening again?

By Amy


June 10, 20131 found this helpful
Best Answer

Dampen the lid and sprinkle with hot pepper powder or sauce. The only animals I know that can't taste heat are birds. It won't kill anything but they will think of your trash is evil. Worked for me when I lived along a lake as the raccons worked at night.


If you live near a zoo, ask if you can have the aggressive animal waist (they are glad to get rid of it) and use it as fertilizer. It worked for me when I lived in the woods (except for the bears) in Wyoming a year.
You can get aggresive animal spray from most home stores.

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August 23, 2005

I recently moved to a new apartment. They are supposed to be putting dumpsters in. Until that time, what should I do to keep animals out of my trash? I am getting tired of cleaning up garbage on my back porch every morning and don't want to invest in a trash barrel that I won't have any use for later.



Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 170 Posts
August 29, 20051 found this helpful
Best Answer

We have bear in our area and my friend uses ammonia in a spray bottle and sprays her trash can. When she puts a bag in, she sprays the bag and then sprays the outside of the can. She hasn't had any problems with any critters in her trash. Maybe you can spray inside the bag and then spray a rag and keep it on top of the trash bag. I don't know how strong the odor will be for you since it is on your porch. Good luck.

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September 27, 2015

I have tried to bungee the can to a pole, I have sprayed the can and the trash with lots of ammonia and still I find it all over my yard. They eat through the lids. I do not have a garage or anywhere to keep this trash instead of outside.

I am far away from the street so I can't get a metal one as they do not have wheels on them. I am desperate!


September 27, 20150 found this helpful
Best Answer

You need to get an animal proof trash can online, since they don't carry them in your area. I live in Colorado and everybody pretty much has to have one.

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February 25, 2010

Can anyone give me any information about composting? Is it OK to do it in Arizona? We have animals like bobcats and coyotes and I don't want to draw them into my yard.

By michelle from Phoenix, AZ


February 25, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

You can compost anywhere that you have enough warmth, water, oxygen, and "food" to support life. A good book to buy or get from the library is Let It Rot by Stu Campbell. It is fun reading and covers it all without being overwhelming.

My bins are made of wire and metal fence posts with boards across the front to keep stuff from tumbling out. What is important is what you put in the bin. Don't put any meat, fat, oil, or dairy in the compost bin--stick only with vegetable matter. Use herbivore or chicken manure for an activator. You can also buy commercial activators. Don't use any high-nitrogen animal-based substance like dried blood or fish meal as they will attract meat-eating pests. Bury your "wet" vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and filters, etc. in your rough, dry carbon layer--leaves, rotted straw, rotted hay, rough stuff from cleaning out the garden, or deadheading.

I've been composting for 20 years now, and my bins have always been open to all weathers and anything (deer, coons, coyotes, fox, cats, dogs, opossums, you name it!) that walks by with no problems. Have fun composting. Begonia

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November 3, 2004

Does anyone have suggestions for storage of outside garbage? We have a lot of squirrels and my teens don't always put the garbage in efficiently.

I was thinking of some kind of little shed but am trying to keep the cost down as 4x8 pressure treated wood is about $25 a sheet-any thoughts?


November 3, 20040 found this helpful

Full strength ammonia sprayed on sacks or cans will keep critters away. They can't stand the smell.

By (Guest Post)
November 3, 20041 found this helpful

We have problems with raccoons, skunks and squirrels getting into the garbage on our acreage. Of course, our dog would also like to get into the garbage sometimes too. My husband built a box, 3' deep at the front and 3 1/2' deep at the back and then 2' wide by 4' long. The depth is deeper at the back so that rain will run off it. He put the wooden box next to the garage on 4 concrete blocks so nothing can "live" under it and the wood won't be on the ground. It has been wonderful. The lid is heavy enough for the animals not to be able to open and yet just the right height for us to put garbage bags in and take out later. My husband did use pressure treated lumber and it IS worth the investment. We have used the plastic garbage cans and metal garbage cans for garbage in the past but they both can be tipped and they get dinged and damaged over the years.

As a reply to the other posting...if you use ammonia for the other animals not to go into your garbage would you not have to put up with the strong smell of ammonia also?

By Lee-Ann (Guest Post)
November 4, 20040 found this helpful

My husband used a broken freezer once. He removed the latch for safety reasons, cut drain holes in the bottom and even decorated it with leftover siding from the house. Just an idea.

Good Luck!

By (Guest Post)
November 4, 20040 found this helpful

this would be free- every time the teen didn't put the garbage out properly and an animal made a mess, the teen would be out cleaning it up. Wouldn't take them long to learn a job worth doing is worth doing right- the first time!

By Debb (Guest Post)
July 30, 20070 found this helpful

Has anyone seen a storage rack on wheels that you can store a couple of garbage cans outside, then roll to the curb on pick up day? This would be so handy!

October 28, 20170 found this helpful

Does not help me at all

December 28, 20170 found this helpful

Garbage Can Dolly

Step 1
Yes, just type in Garbage Can Dolly & you'll see all kinds.

Step 2
Don't be tempted to get the cheapest one!

Step 3
Make sure is it sturdy enough to endure the animals as well as the garbage men.

Step 4
Make sure it has 2-3 large wheels (not 4) for easier control when pushing or pulling

March 31, 20210 found this helpful

I have heard about ammonia. But if I spray my trash bags an put them out at the curb all night, will the ammonia despensate? Or will it be a nice strong odor all night? I don't want to chase trash all over the neighbors yard and mine in the morning? We also have a street light across from us. I need all the help I can get. The truck has been early, on time, an late.

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September 29, 2014

We got new dumpsters and they chewed through the lid of dumpster. Do we have to get metal tops? Ideas would be great. Thanks.

By lc

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

October 6, 2008

How can I keep animals from upending my garbage pail all over my lawn? I have put bungy cords on lids with heavy rocks on top! Short of building a box large enought to hold cans, I'm stymied.



Keeping Animals Out of Your Garbage Can

Try sprinkling clear ammonia over your trash barrels. Voila! Animals will stay out. (06/29/2005)

By Karen

Keeping Animals Out of Your Garbage Can

If your garbage can has handles, drive a metal rod into the ground then put the handle through the rod. The garbage can will not tip over and the animals will not be able to get at the contents. (06/30/2005)

By Tedebear

Keeping Animals Out of Your Garbage Can

We cleaned our trash cans out with Lysol disinfectant. Then every time I put the trash out we poured Lysol on the lid. We never had anymore problems. (06/30/2005)

By Sandy

Keeping Animals Out of Your Garbage Can

The ammonia does work. My friend had a problem with bears getting into her trash. She was told by the game warden to spray her trash with ammonia. She keeps a spray bottle filled with ammonia handy and every time trash goes out, she sprays the bag and then puts it into the can. She then sprays the can. After a rain, it must be reapplied. She hasn't had any problems for years by doing this. (06/30/2005)

By it'

Keeping Animals Out of Your Garbage Can

Ammonia! So many wonderful uses, and I can attest to what the others said about it keeping animals out of your garbage.. I don't have trash cans, only trash bags, and it works just as well.. If you put a few tablespoons inside the bag before tying it up, even if they bite into the bag they get a snoot-full of the ammonia and run off... works great! (07/01/2005)

By Glendacarr

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