Depending on your location and the condition of the surrounding area, you are likely to find roaches in outside garbage can. Roaches are opportunistic feeders and persistent creatures that will do anything to eat anything anywhere, including your garbage can. Unfortunately, if you allow them to comfortably reside in your outdoor garbage bins, that can expose your home to an infestation.

So, follow this guide closely to learn about what to do to protect your garbage can from these critters and maintain cockroach-free outdoor trash.


Reasons to expel cockroaches from your trash can

When the topic of pests in trash cans arises, raccoons are likely the first creatures that come to mind. Although these sizable animals are notorious for raiding trash cans outside at night, cockroaches are also attracted to the decomposing food present in these receptacles. Other pests you’d find around your garbage are rodents, ants, flies, and wasps.

Aside from their annoyance, roaches can introduce dangerous diseases and cause damage to your property, especially once they migrate from the trash to your home.

Roaches also have rapid reproduction rates and are drawn to dark, warm spaces like garbage cans, which can potentially multiply into hundreds or thousands taking up residence in these cans. Depending on the roach species, an egg case can contain between 16 and 50 eggs.¹


Roaches in outside garbage can: what to do

Roaches in outside garbage can

1. Store your garbage in sturdy bags

Although it may appear redundant to place garbage in a sealed bag only to place it inside a larger container, loose food, and wrappers are precisely what entice bothersome cockroaches in outside garbage cans.

Use a sturdy trash bag to contain all discarded food items, and if possible, don’t keep bags containing food waste in your outdoor trash cans until a night or two before the scheduled trash pick-up day.


2. Rinse the bags before disposal in the trash can

Roaches detect the scent of leftover food in takeout boxes or plastic containers. Some experts even describe their sense of smell as “almost supernatural”.² Cockroaches are most attracted to the following smells in your garbage can:

  • starch
  • grease
  • sugar
  • cheese
  • rotting fruits and vegetables
  • meat

These items can give off a very pungent smell that attracts these critters. Therefore, if your used takeout bags still retain a strong odor, thoroughly rinse them before disposing of them in the trash. This precaution helps prevent the roaches in outside garbage can overnight.

3. Seal the garbage bin lid tightly

If you are unable to wait until trash day to dispose of old food, securely fasten the lid of your trash can. Simply use a short bungee cord to secure the trash can lid. You can do this by attaching one end of the cord to the handle of the trash can, stretching it over the lid, and connecting it to the opposite handle.

Although larger pests may still find a way to access the trash can, this method will prevent smaller critters and insects like roaches from entering through the main opening.

4. Fix openings or get a replacement

It may not be worth it to secure the lids of your trash cans to get rid of roaches if the containers themselves have cracks and holes. These openings practically invite cockroaches into your garbage cans and infest your trash. You can fix this problem by thoroughly wiping down your garbage cans using a solution of distilled white vinegar and water, followed by rinsing them with a hose. Next, sand the damaged areas and apply fiberglass reinforcement tape from the inside of the can.

Finally, spread epoxy over the hole from the outside. Although it may appear to be a time-consuming process, taking this extra step will help you avoid potential roaches in outside garbage bin in the future.

5. Set up motion detectors outside

Bright and sudden lights can startle various critters, including cockroaches. Therefore, install motion-detecting lights to deter roaches that may be attempting to access your garbage cans at night. Not only is this measure an effective pest control, but it also acts as a security measure, deterring potential intruders.

6. Apply ammonia spray

When it comes to comprehensive pest control, ammonia is an effective way to get rid of roaches in your garbage can outside. The active ingredient, ammonium hydroxide (NH3), in this solution can eliminate cockroaches. Ammonia should only be used outdoors, as it can cause irritation to both humans and pets. For use in your outdoor trash cans, create a mixture of equal parts ammonia and water and apply it using a spray bottle. Before spraying the solution, ensure to close all windows and doors leading to your interior to stop the potent smell of the chemical from getting inside.

7. Keep garbage cans away from your house

Even if you adhere to all the tips provided, it is still possible for roaches to find their way into your trash cans. But you can keep roaches in outside garbage can from eventually entering your home by keeping the bins as far away from your home’s structure as possible.

Remember to adhere to your city’s garbage placement rules. In the City of Oklahoma, you are supposed to place bulky waste items at least 5 feet away from obstacles, including mailboxes, gas meters, trees and shrubs, fire hydrants, or parked cars.³ In the City of Portland⁴ and the City of Durham⁵, you place your container within 3 feet of the curb in either direction (towards the sidewalk or in the street backed up against the curb). If there is no curb, you place containers within 3 feet of the traveled roadway, including areas used for on-street parking.

Remember, do not overload the bin or cause an obstruction within at least 15 feet, for example, in Phoenix.⁶ Keep your area free of weeds and trimmed to help discourage cockroach activities.


These methods will help protect your home against roaches in outside garbage can. However, for the complete elimination of persistent roach problems, you should seek professional services offered by your local pest management company.

Ultimately, do not block sidewalks, driveways, or bike lanes, and leave space between cars, trees, poles, and other bins. While also positioning your garbage bin from your home, keep it at least 4 feet from recycle bins.

Read also: cockroach slept with you in bed?


  1. Cockroaches. University of Minnesota Extension
  2. Here’s why cockroaches are indestructible. NBC News
  3. Trash Services. City of Oklahoma
  4. Garbage service for houses and smallplexes. City of Portland, Oregon
  5. Household Garbage. City of Durham
  6. Container Procedures. City of Phoenix

Read also: home remedies for cockroaches in refrigerator

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