‘Eco-Friendly’ Service Offers to Clean Stinky Trash Cans

by ARLnow.com May 25, 2011 at 8:56 am 10,087 67 Comments

If you have dirty, smelly trash cans, and don’t want to clean them yourself, there’s a new service that will do it for you for a monthly fee.

Can-Scrubbers LLC recently started operating in Arlington, Falls Church and McLean. The company has a small, oddly-shaped blue truck that uses “high pressure hot water and highly effective degreasing cleaners” in an automated process to clean out filthy trash cans.

Can-Scrubbers says their process is “eco-friendly” since cleaning your own cans will likely “send contaminated waste material into the street and ultimately down storm drains and into our precious streams and rivers.” The company says it stores waste water in the truck, then filters it and sends it through the sanitary sewer. Also, the company says that its cleaning agents are biodegradable.

The service starts at $10 per month.

  • Set the can on level pavement. Squirt some dish soap into it. Pour a few cups of bleach into it. Turn on the garden hose and fill up the can. Let it sit for a few hours. Dump it out. Clean and disinfected again for months for about $0.25. Save the $10/month.

    • Tully

      Way too much work for most people

      • Wow. Take 5 minutes…..

        • Max

          “Let sit for a few hours”

          • You could be doing something else in that time. Being lazy, I would suggest watching some TV Land or setting up the service that picks up the dog poop for you.

          • dynaroo

            I am WAY too busy setting up my maid service, lawn service, dog-walking service and gutter cleaning service.

          • I have a service that sets up all those services for me.

          • dynaroo

            That’s genius!

    • Attura

      Yo, OB — Perfect!!!!

    • CW

      Right, and running leaded gas in your car is pretty sweet too. What part of “we’re not supposed to dump tons of detergents and bleach into the Potomac” did you miss?

      • Then use some common sense and don’t dump it into a storm drain. The small amount of soap will not hurt your lawn, and will be assimilated by bacteria in the soil (this is how a septic system works). The bleach, in low concentration, never reaches the Potomac. Bleach is degraded by sunlight and heat.

        We’re talking about washing some dirt, stink, and mold out of a garbage can here not cleaning out a used underground oil tank. Washing your car leaves more contaminants behind, and I’m guessing you do that don’t you???

        • CW

          Fair enough, although I’d figure most people would 1) use tons of bleach and 2) dump it directly into a storm drain.

          Anyhow, the mental image of someone pressure-washing an old rusty UST in their front yard made me laugh.

          • True about the ton of bleach. That’s easy to do, but you tend to do it only once when you ruin the clothes you have on. A little bleach allowed to sit will serve the same purpose.

            What I wonder is how some trash cans get so dirty? I use a degradable plastic liner in mine (yes, we can debate the merits of degradable plastic….) and it stays clean and relatively stink free. Hosing it out once a year is all it needs and every once in a while I spray some canned deodorant perfume into it when it is warm out. People must be chucking nasty stuff directly into their cans.

          • CW

            A rip in a bag here and there and it is amazing the amount of garbage juice that will end up in the bottom. After a while it will build up a nice coating when it dries out.

            Also, a lot of people just don’t use garbage bags.

          • loocy

            And then there are the dog walking neighbors who throw news bags of poo into my just-emptied trash can — that’s nasty to come home to, and the smell never gets out.

          • John Fontain

            I plan to use a ton of bleach and then dump it directly in the Potomac river.

          • It will kill a bunch of oxygen-depleating algae and will thus increase the river quality.

        • NOVApologist

          Out of curiosity – how many people actually follow the county’s recommendation that residents wash their cars only on the grass and never in the driveway or on the street?

        • FedUp

          Who needs a lawn anyway?

      • BTW, you can’t buy leaded gas in the States CW. LOL

        • CW

          No crap…that was my point…

    • bred

      Agree, but you can’t blame someone trying to make a few $$.

    • Chip Payne

      I have a service like that… Bin-N-Gone in Palm Springs. Our demographic, wealthy – retired – keeps cans in the garage – has no kids – etc… But it is illegal to pour water or soap in the street. “Only Rain In The Drain” is the motto here. It’s a great business and helps the envoronment. ($10 per month)

  • dynaroo

    Only in Arlington.

    This is more evidence that taxes are too low.

    • charlie

      and that people have too much money. maybe the same thing.

    • I just think it is more evidence that people still come up with poor business ideas.

      • John Fontain

        Yep. If I were to list all of the things I’d like to spend my discretionary cash on, I don’t think I’d have ever thought of paying someone to clean my trashcan.

  • Really?

    Eco-friendly my a$$. It’s a trash can, it is not a beauty contest. It’s supposed to smell like crap. Come on people, if you have too much money I’m happy to give you some ideas of where to use it.

  • Not4Me

    Do people really clean their trash cans only to turn around and put more trash in them? I don’t get it.

    • y8s

      You aren’t cleaning your trash before you put it in the trash bags?

      You’ve got to hose down the trash bags before placing them in the can. A soft scrub brush and some car wash solution works wonders on a dingy trash bag.

  • Burger

    So how much did Can Scrubbers pay for this blog post?

  • Aaron

    When I read this i just think about #whitepeopleproblems

    (this is sarcasm, no offense meant)

    • charlie

      totally inappropriate comment. if you had used any word other than “white” it would be highly offensive. Oh wait, it still is.

      • Aaron

        The #whitepeopleproblems meme is just an extension of the silly Stuff White People Like meme. White in this context doesn’t mean Caucasian or anything like that, it means Wealthy Metropolitan Liberal (possibly Canadian).

        • dynaroo

          Hey, I may be white and suburban, but I’m not Canadian. That’s a low blow.

        • Aaron

          Woah, another Aaron! And thank you, absolutely correct. It was started by Louis CK, according to the Interwebs and become exactly as you describe it. “FREDTREP”

          And what’s wrong with Canada dynaroo, eh?

          • dynaroo

            I have nothing against Canada. It’s a cute little country that sent us William Shatner.

    • John Fontain

      You speaketh the trutheth.

  • Well..

    Animals/rodents aren’t as interested in clean trash cans. The containers stink less too, so they’re better to live with.

    I can’t imagine hiring a service (nor call it eco-friendly to frequently douse/bathe them) but it does make sense to wash them periodically.

  • Michael

    I think its an awesome idea and I wish them luck!

  • YTK

    What REALLYneeds to be De-Stinked are those deisel engines on Arlington County’s Mini-trash trucks. One of them stopped at our bus stop yesterday morning to empty the trash can — and the fumes from the idling truck were so bad that EVERYONE moved to the other side of the bus stop,. How about “greening” those mini trash truck engines?????

    • The diesel engine will die in 20 years or 1 million miles. Then they can buy one that runs on clean natural gas.

      • bb

        Or just start running it on vegetable oil. Mmm… smells like fish sticks!

        • That olive oil shop in Shirlington will have a lot of inventory to get rid of when they go belly up. Good idea!

          • bb

            Yep. I wonder what the fancy oils will smell like coming out a tailpipe?

            A guy I worked with ran both of his cars (diesel Mercedes) directly on used vegetable oil. He had a deal with a couple of places (including my workplace cafeteria) to take their used oil away for free. All he’d do is filter it and put it right into the tank. He had to run them on regular diesel in winter due to the veggie oil solidifying in cold weather.

          • He could get around that by installing a second smaller tank and heat exchanger. Start and run the car on diesel, then when warm switch over to veggie oil. Before you stop the car and allow it to cool, switch back to diesel to purge all veggie oil out of lines, injectors, and pumps.

            Or, you could process the oil to biodiesel. Used oil is more difficult to do this with and less consistant batch to batch however.

        • PhilL

          Do you like the smell of fish sticks?

  • dynaroo

    Arlington, land of dog bakeries, trash can cleaning services, and people whining about taxes.

  • Jay’s Saloon Forever

    I think this is a great idea and that you’re going to see these guys all over the place. I’ll bet they’ll work some sort of neighborhood bulk discount, too.

    • For $17 bucks you can buy a 32 gallon wheeled plastic trash can at Home Depot. Why pay $10 per month when you could just toss the dirty one in the recycle bin every other month and come out ahead? Nuts….


      • dynaroo

        You could just throw your trash in your backyard, for free!

        • Actually, you can’t. I mean, you can, but you would be breaking the law. Eventually a neighbor would report you. Depending on your “trash” you might even face a felony. I’m not sure what this has to do with cleaning your trash can though.

          • dynaroo

            But I was completely serious. Not a joke at all.

            Seriously, my point was that cost isn’t the only reason for doing things.

          • I can see that. An elderly woman might not want to clean a dirty garbage can. I get it. I just don’t think the demand will be great enough for this service to survive (even in Arlington). You either don’t care about the dirty can, you clean it yourself, or you put a liner in it. I see few people opting for a garbage can cleansing service especially on a monthly basis.

      • bred

        The county give out the trash cans free to residents. Though I doubt that they would give you a new one every couple of months. Save the $17!

        • Westover

          They are not free, the collection fee increased to cover that cost. PLUS, If you move/sell your house, you will be paying for a new can if it is missing.

        • charlie

          we are actually “loaned” the cans. If you look at them they say “Property of Arlington County”

        • Arlwhenever

          And the County equipped the blue cans with RFID; it has a data base linking the cans with your home so the county can track who has and has not put out their recyclables.

        • bb

          Recently for some odd reason they gave me another trash can. I had the can (as it should be) away from the curb and only the recycling can was set out. I came home to find a new can at the curb next to it and my old can still on the side of the house.

          • doodly

            A neighbor must have ordered a new one and you got it instead.

  • 1234

    You know the recession is over when . . .

    • Arlwhenever

      +++ Or the next bubble is building.

  • y8s

    Can I get a service to do something with my compost bin? It seems to be constantly full of either rotting food or dirt.

  • Hints from Heloise (not really)

    1. (serious): For a few weeks in the fall I line the bottom of the trash can with dried leaves that soak up all the crude. After a few rounds of trash pick-up, the can is clean.

    2. (not really serious): For really nasty waste, like the remains of roadkill after deboning, I just drop that waste into a neighbor’s trash.

  • Hi Folks. You all have a great sense of humor, and I really enjoyed your comments about our new trash can cleaning service at Can-Scrubbers.com. America is build on the entrepreneurial spirit, and I hope you wish us good luck.

    But seriously, if you do clean out your own trash cans, please don’t let bleach and other chemicals pour into the street. Cause as you know, anything that’s on our roads will eventually find it’s way into the Potomac.

  • Left Coast

    Have to say, I enjoyed the read as well. 🙂
    The business idea never would have occurred to me (kudos for your inventiveness) but then, neither would a four dollar cup of coffee with milk 30 years ago.
    In today’s business climate – oh, who am I kidding – the business climate of the past several years, it’s heartening to see someone with the cohones to get out there and start something. Build a truck, a business plan, marketing, and on and on. That’s admirable.
    I’m not going to get into the discussion of environmental impact; my head still hurts from reading the above. (I mean that in a good way!) But I do think you’ve got a market out there, at least I hope you do. My mother-in-law used to live in McLean, in the “standard that her husband wanted her to live in”. When visiting, we’d help her straighten up an already tidy house before the maid came. But she’s not going to put a hose to her car, much less her garbage can. And I think she’s not alone. Add to that all those men and women with initials after their names and clean garage floors…where the garbage cans are stored…and it begins to look promising.
    $10 — v.s.– a gross garbage can.
    Here’s hoping you’re employing ten people in a year, that you make it past the deadly “five-year” mark, and you’re thinking “franchise” after that!
    Best of luck!

  • Pay $10 a month? I don’t know about that, but they can get gross. I read some good ideas in the comments that I am going to try. Thanks for the ideas.


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