Raccoons in Trash Can? 9 Ways to Keep Them Out of Garbage

a raccoon digging in a trash can

There's nothing worse than waking up in the morning to your trash cans tipped over and garbage strewn across the lawn. While there's a chance it's your beloved dog, the most likely culprit is a hungry raccoon. These adorable little troublemakers are extremely smart, curious, and dexterous, but they tend to carry rabies.

Your trash can is an exciting smorgasbord for a hungry raccoon so you should take the steps to keep them away and out of trash bags. How do you do that exactly? Keep reading and we'll give you tips and tricks to keep these little dumpster divers out of your garbage cans.

Before we go over how to keep raccoons out of your trash cans, let's first look at the reasons why they are getting into them in the first place.

3 reasons why raccoons are getting into your trash

a raccoon sitting inside a trash can

  1. They're opportunistic: Raccoons are looking for an easy meal and your unsecured garbage cans make the perfect buffet, especially in urban settings. 
  2. They can smell your garbage: These critters have a really good sense of smell so if you have lots of food scraps or other smelly items in your trash bags, it's like a dinner invitation for raccoons and other pests.
  3. It's a constant supply of food: In the country, raccoons have to travel great distances to find food and it's even harder to find food in urban neighborhoods. Your garbage can is a constant source of food for these lazy mammals. 



How to keep raccoons out of trash: 9 simple ways that work

Raccoons and garbage are pretty synonymous with each other, but there are a few ways that you can keep them out of your garbage cans. We’ve got a few tips to help keep these pests from making your garbage their favorite midnight snack.

1. Compost your food scraps

a woman putting food scraps into a countertop compost bin

Raccoons are attracted to your smelly trash can because it means an easy meal for them. Keeping your food scraps out of the garbage bin not only keeps raccoons out of the trash can but can also keep pesky flies away as well. Composting at home reduces the amount of food waste you send to the landfill and can save you money on fertilizer for your plants. So it keeps raccoons out of your trash and helps the planet!

To compost your food scraps, you just need a good composter like Lomi. Lomi is an electric composter that sits right on your kitchen counter and breaks down your food scraps into nutrient-rich dirt for your plants. It's a simple and quick way to compost and it’s animal-proof!


Lomi by Pela



Lomi allows you to turn food waste into plant-ready nutrients in under 24 hours. Boost your plants while reducing your waste.


2. Lock your trash cans

a pile of bungee cords

Your next option to prevent raccoons out of your trash could be to invest in a lock or bungee cords to keep your garbage can locked up tight. A bungee cord or lock can easily keep your garbage can tightly sealed so even the most dexterous raccoon can't get into your garbage.

3. Try a motion-sensing light

a man installing a motion light on the house

Raccoons are nocturnal and prefer darkness so by either placing your garbage cans somewhere where there is a lot of light or installing a motion-sensing light, you're more likely to deter raccoons from approaching your trash cans. Just make sure they aren't pointed in a way that will bother your neighbors.

4. Use raccoon repellent

a person holding a spray bottle

There are many different options when it comes to repellent to keep raccoons out of your garbage. There are sprays, pellets, and even electronic options. You can even make homemade sprays or simply use ammonia since they hate the smell of it. As an added bonus, ammonia will also keep other animals like bears away from your trash cans too.

5. Clean your trash cans regularly

someone spraying a tipped over trash can

Try as you might, your trash cans are still probably going to smell. That's why it is a good idea to give them a cleaning every now and again to remove odors that might have built up. If raccoons can't smell your trash cans, they are less likely to mess with them. Plus keeping a clean trash can will lessen your likelihood of flies and maggots as well.

6. Place your trash cans in a secure location

a woman pulling a trash can into a garage with other trash cans

Another easy solution is to simply move your trash cans to a more secure location. If you have a garage, putting them in there at night is a good way of keeping raccoons away from your garbage. If you have to put them outside, make sure they are on level ground so they are less likely to get tipped over and become a buffet for these little bandits.

7. Weigh down your trash cans

a raccoon standing on top of closed trash cans

Like some of our other tips, this one aims at making it more difficult for raccoons to tip over your garbage cans. Even better, if you can place a weight on the lid of your garbage can, even the most dexterous raccoon isn't going to be able to lift it. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, a rock or something similar should do the trick.

8. Take your garbage out in the morning

a line of trash cans on a curb on a sunny day

Changing your daily trash habit is another great way to keep raccoons out of your trash. Since raccoons are nocturnal, leaving your garbage in your kitchen trash can and bringing it out to the curbside in the morning will greatly reduce the likelihood of them being able to rummage through your trash bags.

9. Try raccoon-proof garbage cans

the lid of a trash can with a lock on it

When all else fails, investing in a good raccoon-proof trash can is the way to go. Many of these trash cans have foot pedals, locking mechanisms, and other features to keep raccoons out of your trash. These trash cans are usually made of durable materials that keep your trash inside and animals out.

5 raccoon-proof trash cans for your home

If you’ve tried just about every idea you can think of to keep these little varmints out of your garbage, you might want to consider a raccoon-proof trash can. These durable cans help deter raccoons so they’ll know your house isn’t the hottest new raccoon restaurant. Here are 5 of the best raccoon-proof trash cans we could find.

1. Lomi electric composter

an electric composter on a counter with food scraps in front of it

We know what you're thinking, and while this isn't technically a trash can it will help keep raccoons out of your trash. You can toss all your potentially smelly food scraps into Lomi so they won't tempt raccoons to come and nose around in the trash can. You can even throw small, soft bones into your Lomi cycle to create nutrient-rich dirt for your plants.

2. United solutions 32 gallon wheeled outdoor garbage can

a black trash can sitting next to an open garage door

This rugged outdoor trash can has a snap lock lid and is made out of durable materials meaning it keeps trash in and raccoons out. It has heavy-duty handles that make it easy to wheel around whenever you need to pull it to the curb. It's also relatively heavy so even the wind will have a hard time knocking this can over.

3. Varmint Vault

a trash can sitting outside

The Varmint Vault lives up to its name with a rodent rim, specifically designed to keep out some of the most persistent raccoons. Its unique locking mechanism prevents critters from opening the carts, getting in your trash cans, and leaving a mess for you to pick up. The lock keeps wildlife out but is simple enough for you and the trash collector to open when needed.

4. 64 Gal. black bear-tight wheeled trash can

an outdoor black trash can

If raccoons aren't the only wildlife trying to get at your trash, you want this heavy-duty trash can. This garbage can is tough enough to keep bears out with its steel-reinforced rim and latch, and its double-walled lid. It's a bit heavier than most trash cans and comes with a higher price tag, but it will definitely keep the hungriest raccoons out of your trash.

5. Keter Rockford resin trash can

outdoor trash can sitting on a deck next to flowers

If you are looking for a trash can that has a little more style then this is the can for you. Its durable material and sliding bottom tray for catching liquid makes it super easy and fast to clean. It can also hold a lot of trash and has a locking lid to keep pets and pests out.

While it can be extremely frustrating to deal with these pesky bandits, there are some easy solutions to keep raccoons out of your trash. One way to keep raccoons out of the trash is by using an electric composter like Lomi. Users love how it quickly breaks down their food waste so the smells aren't wafting to the local wildlife. Hopefully, our tips make your trash routine a little less of a nightmare.

Written by: Sarah Kendal