It’s getting Hot Outside… are There Foul Odors in the Air?

It was a long cold and snowy winter than most of us have seen in our lifetimes, but spring is slowing bringing us all warmer weather and the heat of summer will be upon us soon.   For some of you that also means those nasty foul odors return around dumpsters and outdoor trash haul areas.  This an area we know something about…  we take the stink out of your stink.

Odor control in outdoor areas is an often overlooked area even when it’s blowing right in your face!   Most outdoor odor problems are created by decaying food or beverage waste left inside dumpsters from broken trash liners.  When temps get above 50 degrees bacteria is then able to multiply and become active again, creating odors, attracting insects and even rodents to the areas surrounding dumpsters, compactors, and trash containers.    Hot weather enhances the effects and worsens the problems.  

The attitude is often “the odor will dissipate over time”, “it’s only bad when the wind blows towards the building”, or “it’s too tough a problem to deal with”.   These problems should not be ignored or avoided.   Nasty, stinky odors beyond being aesthetically displeasing, also are potential health hazards as they attract disease spreading and biting insects and rodents.   Any facility or institution dealing with the public should be concerned about bad odors from waste storage.

Like anything worth doing the solution is easy if you commit to the solution with a comprehensive program.  Take these 3 steps:

Clean, Degrease, and Deodorize the Dumpsters, Containers, and surrounding areas.

Constant odor control program / products.

Interval cleaning and deodorizing depending on need.

Step 1-  Clean, Degrease, and Deodorize:   there are many products suitable for this procedure, when used with a good pressure washer or garden sprayer, but most of them do not have a deodorizing component, which is key to creating residual effect to your cleaning process, thus look for products, which also have residual odor control.  

Step 2- Constant Odor Control:  Typically this involves 2 different strategies to control odors every day.   A common method is to use solid odor control products inside the dumpster, which absorb malodors in the air and also absorb waste liquidsin the dumpster.   Another method for closed compactors is to have a liquid odor control product pumped into the container every day using a peristaltic pump and timer.  

Step 3- Interval Cleaning:  these are steps taken weekly or monthly depending on need, but particularly during the worst odor control months in the summer.  These involve spraying trash between pick-ups with a strong odor control product, and regular cleaning of areas surrounding the trash areas.   Do not forget spraying odor control cleaning products in trash chutes, which often are sources of bacteria growth and malodors.   Assure solid odor control materials are replenished as needed.  

Yes, there are ways to effectively control trash area odors with cleaning and deodorizing, but there are other steps Facilities Managers can take also:

Increase frequency of trash pick-up from your waste management company.  Yes, this can increase costs, but may be necessary in difficult odor situations.

Use stronger trash liners to eliminate breakage and waste spillage in the dumpsters, and train all custodians on how to tightly close-up trash liners.

Recycle food waste with local farmers doing composting or feeding livestock.  This can help reduce one of the most common sources of odors, and keep insect proliferation down, etc.

So don’t let those odors blow in your face any longer!   Let us know how we can help take the stink out of your own stinky situation.


Jack Collins, The Bullen Company