How To Keep Raccoons Out Of Trash

Are you tired of cleaning up after raccoons each morning? They sneak in at night, raid your trash and leave an almighty mess on your yard. It’s left you dreading trash day and looking for solutions on how to keep raccoons out of trash.

This guide will take you through 9 easy methods you can use to keep raccoons away from your garbage. First let’s start by looking at why raccoons raid your trashcans, and why you need to stop them.

Let’s go.

Why are raccoons attracted to trash?

There’s a reason that raccoons are also known as trash pandas. They just love garbage.

Trash attracts raccoons as it’s an easy food source for them. As opportunistic omnivores raccoons will eat any food they encounter. Also, trash gives off pungent food odors which are very attractive to a raccoon’s sensitive nose.

Your trash contains lots of food waste and scraps which the raccoons will happily eat. A raccoon has a voracious appetite all year round. In summer they need lots of food to put on fat for winter. Then in the colder months, they need to find quick easy food sources to conserve energy and survive the winter.

Trash is a terrible food source for raccoons. It will likely lead to them contracting bacteria from rotten food, or having nutritional deficiencies. Relying on urban trash as food is one of the reasons raccoons have a very short life span.

Why you need to keep raccoons away

Raccoons are extremely cute and very smart animals. Their antics can keep you entertained for hours. That’s because they’ll try lots of clever ways to get their hands on a good food source. Yet although raccoons are quite savvy creatures, it’s not a good thing to have them around your yard. Let’s look at the three main reasons why.

Raccoons Create mess

Well, if you’re here looking at tips on how to keep raccoons out of your trash, you’ll know all about ‘the mess’. Raccoons can wreak havoc in your yard with a trash bag. They dig around, eat what they can, and then leave all the packaging and mess strewn around.

You don’t have time to be cleaning up this mess every single trash day. It gets tiring and you have better things to do with your time.

Raccoons Carry disease

One of the biggest risks that raccoons pose is that they are disease-ridden. They carry significant diseases such as rabies and various bacteria, virus, and parasites.

Some raccoon diseases can easily transfer from humans or even to your pets. That means you have to be super careful when cleaning up after raccoons. You can easily pick something up that will make you ill.

When raccoons are raiding your trash be aware of finding their poop too. Raccoon scat is full of disease and very risky to clean up. Make sure you take extra care if you find raccoon poop in your yard.

Raccoons Damage Property

If you’re annoyed with the mess raccoons make of your trash, then they’ve only just begun. Letting raccoons overrun your yard will lead to them damaging your property. That’s because they’ll want to build dens close by to a good food source.

Raccoons will start to look for ways into your crawl space, attics, chimney, and under your porch. Once they find a good spot they’ll use it for raising their babies.

When a raccoon is on your property they’ll pass waste that is foul-smelling and full of disease. They also cause structural damage by chewing wood, joists, wires, and ducts. Other common damage includes ripping up insulation.

So a raccoon’s problem can get very expensive very quickly. You’re going to want your trash to stop attracting them as soon as possible.

Let’s look at how you can do this.

9 Ways To Keep Raccoons Out Of Trash

1. Rethink Your Trash Bags

One of the simplest ways you can keep raccoons away from your trash is to consider the bags you’re using. If you are using thin budget trash bags then you’ll need to change this.

Not only do the thin bags make it easier for raccoons to get into your trash; but, they’ll also give off a stronger smell than thicker bags. A hungry raccoon that gets a hint of that smell is heading straight for your trash can.

You may want to just double up on the trash bags that you’re already using. However, this will double the price and speed you use trash bags.

The best thing to use is thicker bags (like these) to help to contain the smell. Raccoons will rip the trash bags with their claws. Keep an eye out for trash bags with diamond-like rip protection which helps to slow raccoons down.

2. Use a Trash Can

One mistake you may be making is that you’re putting your trash bags directly onto the sidewalk for collection day.

That’s like an open invitation to raccoons to come and raid your trash.  Raccoons are lazy and will love the convenience of not having to open up a trash can first. They just tear through the bags and start making a mess.

The quickest solution is to use a trash can to store your full trash bags. Ideally, you want an animal-proof trash can. That way you’ll stop other pests such as squirrels, possums, and skunks as well as raccoons.

A heavy trash can is ideal to stop animals from pushing it over and tipping out the goodies. If you’re having trouble with raccoons chewing a plastic trash can, you may want to switch to a metal one.

3. Secure Your Trash Cans

If you already have a good trash can in place then make it extra secure by using a device to stop raccoons from getting in.

There are a few options that you can use to do this.

  • Bungee Cord

Use a bungee cord attached over the lid between the trash can handles. This will help to keep the lid tight to the trash can. This is an inexpensive option and you may already have a bungee cord in your home. You’ll have to remember to remove the cord before the trash collection as they may not collect your trash

  • Strong Strap

This strong strap will keep your bin lid securely closed even if it’s tipped over. Unlike a bungee cord, it doesn’t have any stretch to it, which a determined raccoon can manipulate. These straps are universal and you can use them on any size or shape of trash can.

  • Heavy Rock

A simple and budget-friendly option to keep raccoons out of your trash is to place a large rock on the lid. The rock should be heavy enough to weigh the lid down but also so the raccoons can’t move it. You’ll need to remember to replace the rock each time you use the garbage can.

4. Keep away in enclosed space

Keeping your trash away from raccoons as much as possible prevents them from having the opportunity to raid it. The best way to do this is by keeping it in a location that they can’t access overnight.

First of all, do not put your trash out overnight for a next-day collection. If it’s a morning collection, place it out first thing. This stops raccoons from getting access to your trash at night.

The second step is to keep your trash can as hidden as possible. If you have a garage or a shed, try to keep the trash can in there overnight. A trash can with wheels will make it easier for you to move around.

If you don’t have an existing storage space, then you can create one. An outdoor storage shed is ideal for keeping raccoons out of your trash. I love this Rubbermaid one, and it’s tried and tested against raccoons.


5. Use An Electronic Repellent

Raccoons are easily scared by sudden light and noise. You can buy a device for your yard which will set off a bright light and emit a high-frequency sound when it detects the raccoons moving around. The Thanos Solar brand is the one I’d recommend.

Using an electronic repellent is my top pick for the best raccoon repellents. These devices are easy to set up and don’t need any maintenance. Plus you can buy ones which are solar-powered so you don’t even need to think about a power source for them.

I’d recommend placing one or two of these devices around your trash can. This means when the raccoons visit at night, they’ll be scared off by the light and sounds it emits.

6. Use a special trash bag

We’ve already discussed using strong trash bags, or at least double bagging to keep raccoons out. One company has gone a step further than this and created raccoon-repellent trash bags.

These Mint- X trash bags are heavily scented with mint. Not only do raccoons hate the smell of mint, but the strong smell will also help to mask the smell of food. That means the raccoons are much less likely to even attempt to open up your trash bags.

These bags will also help to keep away other pests such as mice and rats.

7. Clean with ammonia

It’s a chore you can do without, but cleaning your trash can is so important for keeping raccoons away. The trash can will start to accumulate smells that will attract the raccoons.

Yet cleaning your trash can may not be enough to remove all the smells. Remember raccoons have an excellent sense of smell. But you can use this against them.

Once you clean your trash can, finish it off by spraying the inside and bottom with a layer of ammonia cleaner. This will help to thoroughly disinfect the trash can. But it will also help deter raccoons as they hate the smell of ammonia.

Just fill up a simple spray bottle with cleaning ammonia, and give the inside and outside a good spray when you’re done.

8. Use Hot Peppers

One thing that raccoons hate to taste and smell is any type of hot pepper. This knowledge can be used to keep them away from your trash cans.

You can use pepper powder or even watered-down hots sauce to create a raccoon barrier. Just spray or sprinkle it on or near your trash can.

Hot pepper scents irritate the raccoon’s delicate sense of smell. This makes it uncomfortable for the raccoon to want to stick around in your trash.

They also hate the taste and it will cause them a lot of irritation to get it in their mouth. That makes hot pepper a good option if you’re having trouble with raccoons chewing your trash cans.

9. Sprinkle Epsom salts

Epsom salts are a great inexpensive way to keep raccoons away from your trash. You probably already have some lying around your home. So put them to use today.

Simply sprinkle the Epsom salts around and inside your trash can. Raccoons hate the feel of the Epsom salts on their paws and will avoid them as much as possible. They also really hate the smell so it will annoy at least two of their senses.

Epsom salts are eco-friendly and are safe to use around small children and pets. Don’t worry if there are plants nearby too, as Epsom salts will help your plants to grow rather than kill them off.

Epsom salts are also safe to use if you like to attract birds to your yard. This is unlike the common suggestion of mothballs, which are insecticides and toxic to use.

Final thoughts

If you’re having trouble with raccoons raiding your trash then there are a few ways you can stop them. To keep raccoons out you’ll want to have things in place that slow them down or deter them from coming back.

These 9 methods are easy and very effective at keeping raccoons away from your garbage. Don’t underestimate how clever raccoons can be. If you have a determined raccoon using a few of these methods together will help the issue. Check out my guide for more tips on how to deter raccoons from your yard.

You’ll save yourself a lot of time and expense from having to deal with an out-of-control raccoon problem. Hopefully, your trash will be raccoon-free in no time.

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