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How do you de-funk stinky food waste?

I don't like air fresheners so that's out. The only two things I want people to smell when they come into my home is either good food cooking or clean.

I live in a condo where the only option is to store garbage inside your unit until garbage day comes along. We don't make much waste so food funk can be stored for up to two weeks. The offending bag is already in a closet as far away from civilization as possible. I've tried double-bagging, Glad Odour Shield bags, boxes of baking soda, and dumping baking soda directly into the green garbage bag. It's still an issue at least once a month.

If anyone has any suggestions, trust me, they'd be more than welcome. Eternally grateful in advance.


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  1. So this is garbage garbage, not organic waste destined for green bin pick up. As I understand it, the green bin program isn't available yet for multi-unit dwellings yet. Of course, you'd still have the same problem with storage but at least green bins get picked up every week. That's brutal to have to wait two weeks to get smelly garbage picked up.

    I have friends in a similar situation who tightly extra-bag the most offensive items and freeze them until pick-up. But they have extra freezer storage capacity.

    What about one of those really big insulated coolers, you know the kind you pack for picnics and going to a cottage. You wouldn't have to actually keep it cool, but it would seal well. You likely wouldn't want to use that cooler for anything else though, ever.

    1 Reply
    1. re: JamieK

      JamieK you're absolutely bang on as to all the reasons why I have to store inside. No, no green bin service in my neighbourhood yet. As much as I may have thought about illegally dumping my waste in a street bin, I'm just not that kinda gal. Come to think of it I do have a beater cooler hanging around my place. I'll give that a whirl. Thanks.

    2. Excuse me, you don't have a garbage disposer? ALL of my food waste goes down mine so animals don't attack my trash bins outside. I would never dream of keeping it inside. So down the garbage disposer it goes, then if it has an ordor, half a lemon to rehab the whole thing.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Caroline1

        They're prohibited in most parts of Toronto where Googs lives -

        "Garburator, also called garbage grinders, are prohibited in areas of the City served by combined sewers under the Sewer Use By-law (Municipal Code, Chapter 681-10,Section E). To find out if your building is on a combined sewer, call 416-338-8888.

        In addition, the City has studied the use of garburator and found them to be an expensive way to treat organic waste, both for owners and the City. More solids in the pipes lead to clogging and an increase in service calls, and more solids in the sewage system mean more blockages. The Green Bin Program, which is expected to be launched in apartments and condominiums as soon as adequate processing capacity is identified, will provide a much more effective way for managing organic waste."

        1. re: JamieK

          I had no idea. Thanks! But the restriction without an IMMEDIATE sanitary and odorless alternative sounds at the very least "unkind" to me, if not downright dangerous. Odor comes from active bacteria! Yucky!

          1. re: Caroline1

            Yes, there are challenges. For me and many others, who live in single-family houses, it's easy. We have a temporary small organic waste disposal bin in our kitchen, which gets dumped into a larger "green bin" every day or so. I have the convenience and advantage of then being able to store the green bin in our shed until pick-up morning every week. This is important as Toronto has a large population of very clever and huge fat raccoons.

            Anyway, I sympathize with Goog's problem and am still trying to think of possible solutions.

      2. You might want to try getting some kind of composter so that you can segregate the smelliest of your trash. Once the food scraps are out, your trash shouldn't smell at all.

        Here is a link to the the wikipedia article on Bokashi. It is supposed to be a fairly odorless, easy way to compost inside your house. It should give you great soil to grow some herbs indoors too.


        1 Reply
        1. re: megmosa

          Yeah, I've heard that Bokashi works great, although I haven't used it myself or even seen (smelled) it in action. Vermiculture (worm compost bin) would be a very green solutions, too.

        2. So garbage collection is once a week or once every 2? Curious what you meant by "up to two weeks." Sounds like your condo complex has a completely unsanitary policy. Almost nothing will neutralize that garbage funky smell...bleach, maybe sawdust. When I was in a similar position, I disposed of my trash elsewhere....The gas station, car wash, park, even the dumpsters at work. Garbage for 2 weeks in your place? I feel for you, Googs

          2 Replies
          1. re: BiscuitBoy

            I agree with the solution. We dump our garbage at the local gas station or convenient mart whenever we have to take a long trip before garbage days. They have garbage cans, which is for customers' garbage. As long as I am not dumping a dead body there's nothing illegal about it.

            1. re: BiscuitBoy

              It sounds absolutely disgusting to me! Doesn't your building HAVE to have a skip or some sort of communal garbage disposal if it doesn't have facilities for individual collection? We live in a condo, but there's a skip outside for the trash, emptied several times a week. I would have thought it would be illegal for them not to provide some sort of more sanitary option. If they don't my only suggestion would be a sealed stainless steel cannister for your stinkiest trash, preferably kept in the freezer.

            2. For food waste that I know is going to get ultra ripe by pick-up day, like chicken carcasses and fish parts, I double bag in plastic bags and stick them in the freezer. Then on pick up day they are in a garbage truck before they had a chance to thaw.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Veggo


                I hope that you mark these clearly. I would not want you to grab the wrong bag, when you plan on doing a nice chicken stew! E-e-e-uh! That would be a surprise. I'll send you some Sharpies®, just in case.


              2. Once we got used to separating the green bin stuff it made SO much sense to me to keep the stinky stuff separate, that if I moved into a condo I would continue to sort my garbage that way. And we store our green bin stuff in the freezer if it is threatening to get stinky before pick-up - I realize you couldn't fit all your garbage in there, but you could probably fit the food scraps.

                1. There are a few people on this board that are selfish and inconsiderate, anything I or anyone else would say to you would be of no avail. People like you will justify any kind of behaviour in your own mind.
                  1. You don't dump your garbage elsewhere unless it's the city/county landfill. It's not the job of C-store employees etc. to have to put up and dispose of your stink.

                  2. If you do the above you are most likely of the type to dump an old matress or old moter oil in a vacant lot.

                  There is more to life than just YOU!

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: mrbigshotno.1

                    So what's the garbage can in gas stations and convenient store there for? Decoration?

                    1. re: PeterL

                      I'm going to assume that's a serious question.

                      Uh, it's for throwing away incidental garbage generated by your patronizing the gas station or convenience store (e.g. candy wrappers, coffee cups, paper towels from checking your oil). It's not for household waste.

                      That's like asking "what's that empty lot for if not for me to dump my broken car?"

                    2. re: mrbigshotno.1

                      Geeze, lighten up! If you can't adapt, overcome and improvise in this world, you are truly lost. A couple key items in a sealed bag isn't gonna break anyone's day. Littering in a vacant lot, and disposing of things in a trash receptacle are world apart, my friend.

                      1. re: BiscuitBoy

                        In some places (incl. where I live, NYC) it is illegal to drop off your household waste in any public trashcan (street corner, etc.) whether it's in a sealed bag or not. So it is a big deal, depending on where you are located.

                    3. This is a difficult dilemma, sorry your building/our municipality doesn't offer a better solution.
                      As others have suggested, freezing food scraps would be great - if you can fit them in your freezer. Cooler is also a good solution, but that thing is going to get nasty!
                      Something I do is I always wash out packaging before throwing it in the garbage can. For example - any bag which contained meat (or especially fish) gets thoroughly washed out with soap and hot water before getting tossed. Same goes for cheese packaging/take out containers etc. It's a total pain, and I hate doing it, but we don't generate enough waste to fill a garbage bag every two weeks. I even clean our recycling...and beer empties! I might have a problem.

                      13 Replies
                      1. re: tochipotle

                        With meat trays or other packaging I know will get stinky very quickly, I put it in a bag (such as a grocery store veggie bag - whatever I have around that I can reuse) and seal with a knot.

                        1. re: julesrules

                          You might check into an Endurance brand composting pail. They have liners and a charcoal filter in the lid. They will keep the odor at bay until trash day.

                          1. re: Candy

                            I second the activated charcoal/carbon rec. It's much much better than baking soda at sucking up odours. You can buy it in bulk at aquarium supply stores to sprinkle into the pail, or just leave around in shallow bowls.

                            Ground coffee will also work, but makes everything smells like coffee. :)

                            1. re: mogo

                              Oh I forgot to mention I've tried coffee grounds. It may mask odours to sniffer dogs, but not me. It seems having an acute sense of smell is a mixed blessing after all.

                              1. re: Googs

                                Having an acute sense of smell can indeed be a curse! I have never used them and have no knowledge of whether they work, but I'm seeing ads on TV for trash bags that "eliminate" odors.

                                I feel so blessed to live in an area where I can still use my garbage disposal! I think it is criminal to ban them when no viable plan to handle such waste in a meaningful and effective e way is available. But hey, no one has ever claimed that governments, local or national, are intelligent. <sigh> Good luck!

                                1. re: Caroline1

                                  Weird isn't it? In my subdivison's covenants and restrictions, it requires that every home will have a garbage disposer. They don't have a way to enforce the use though. I imagine in some larger cities with elderly sewage systems the frequent use of garbage disposers could cause an over load.

                                  1. re: Candy

                                    It's fascinating how some local governments mandate garbage disposers while others ban them, and each camp uses the same arguments to support its position!

                                    Here in Toronto, they were illegal in the former City of Toronto but allowed in the various "satellite" cities (all under the same "Metro" government).

                                    I recall the local Sears store in my downtown neighbourhood telling me that they weren't allowed to sell garbage disposers, but that I could buy one at another Sears store twenty minutes away. Then my plumber told me to get a "handyman" since he wasn't allowed to touch one of these downtown.

                                    Since we were amalgamated into one "megacity" about ten years ago, garbage disposers seem to have entered that strange world of "don't ask; don't tell". Whether you can use one of these legally depends on the type of sewer servicing your house, something most people don't know. So anyone can use one and plead ignorance if challenged, but there's nobody to do the challenging.

                                    1. re: embee

                                      It has to do with the ability to process the additional waste at the wastewater treatment plants. This is why disposals are not allowed in NYC. This stuff goes somewhere, you know. NYC has all the sludge from human poop it can handle, and it is treated and then barged out to sea and dumped. The specialized enzymes, or "bugs" as they are called, that break down human waste, do not work with garbage. And garbage would double the load.

                                      1. re: Veggo

                                        In Toronto, they are concerned that, in areas where sanitary and storm sewers share one big pipe, heavy rain or melting snow might overflow the sanitary sewer into the storm sewer. This would dump untreated waste into Lake Ontario. If the sanitary sewer connected to your house is separate, garbage disposers are fine.

                                        1. re: Veggo

                                          Some years ago, NYC allowed disposals in certain areas of the city as a pilot program to see if the sewage system could handle it. The upshot of that pilot program is that disposals are now legal in NYC.

                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                            CM, that'd good news, thanks for the update. When I lived near the UN in the late 90's, a summer stroll in my neighborhood often had some gag moments as I passed garbage containers.

                                            1. re: Veggo

                                              Disposals still aren't widespread in NYC, so one still no doubt encounters that hot summer day + trash bags at the curb problem. At least people aren't forced to keep their stinky trash in their apartments, like the OP!

                          2. I sprinkle a handful of (clean) kitty litter in the bottom of the bag and add some over nasty garbage as it's generated. It neutralizes odors and absorbs any liquids that could leak through.

                            1 Reply
                            1. We have spent much time with the local waste management supervisor due to logistical problems with our mandatory bins.

                              One of his passing comments was that residents of multi unit buildings that don't have recycling and/or organics collection can toss everything into the landfill-destined garbage.

                              I'm not encouraging you to violate your sense of ethics. Indeed, we have multiple blue bins, one gray bin, and two green bins decorating our front yard and hiding our landscaping. (There was no other way%^$@#$%)

                              Can't you package your garbage and toss it down the compactor chute until the city and/or your condo board make proper arrangements?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: embee

                                Alas it's a low-rise condo embee. No compactor chute. I knew that was one of the things I was going to miss when I moved here. I just had no idea how much.

                                Not sure about worms. I think I'm going to run with freezing and puttting the occasional bit of clean kitty litter in the bag. I like the cooler idea. Hubby is less enthusiastic about it.

                                Thank you everyone. There are some great ideas here. Hope I don't need to get around to them all.

                              2. Here is another way of composting your food scraps that is cheap, odorless, and doesn't take up much space. If you don't need the soil, give it away or throw it away. Either way its a fairly green way to keep your trash from smelling without resorting to using lots of plastics and chemicals that are just going to ineffectively mask the smell anyway.

                                The answer is worms!


                                2 Replies
                                1. re: megmosa

                                  It looks like Vancouver will even give residents a box to start out with. Maybe there is a similar program where you live?


                                  1. re: megmosa

                                    Yes, this is a great idea, but it really just works for edibles and doesn't do much for a stinking piece of plastic.

                                  2. I was wondering if a diaper pail could be adapted. I've ever used one, just a thought.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Aromatherapy

                                      I was having similar thoughts this morning, but couldn't come up with something practical. A diaper pail would actually fit the dimensions. Thanks so much Aromatherapy. That's brilliant. You definitely live up to your moniker.

                                    2. You have got to be kidding. You need to keep it inside? I live in a house and I don't even allow garbage in the garage. Who needs the smell and the vermin? Do you have a patio or balcony? You can hide it in something that doesn't look like a garbage pail if the HOA objects. Don't you have a dumpster or a place to bring it out? How often do they pick up the stuff? What if these were disposable diapers, and not food? I have lived in some restrictive condos, but none that offered me NO option except to store garbage in my house, including in Manhattan.

                                      If this is really the story, and you own your condo, install an Insinkerator disposal. It will gobble up cantaloupe rinds, onions or anything else you can give it. Running water washes the stuff down the drain. You freshen it by grinding pieces of grapefruit. If there are rules against this, trust me -- your HOA will never find out until you sell the unit. And they deserve it if they really want you to keep your garbage for two weeks.

                                      9 Replies
                                      1. re: RGC1982

                                        I'll stand up for Googs on this. Our local (Toronto) government has made dealing with garbage a difficult ordeal for many people - one that defies solution in parts of the city.

                                        I hope Googs has a "garburator" for food waste, but she's talking about a class of waste that is is neither compostible nor recyclable and is picked up bi-weekly. For me, no garbage chute in a condo would be a deal breaker.

                                        Some downtown home owners have it even worse. We have four classes of garbage, three of which require specific bins. The system was designed for areas with driveways and garages. On many streets, homes have no front yards and no rear access. You not only need to store your (sorted) garbage, you also need to store the $%^# bins.

                                        1. re: embee

                                          Thank you embee. Once again, my (smoked meat) hero.

                                          1. re: embee

                                            Please don't take this the wrong way -- but you need to move. Maybe it's just my Texan/New Yorker sensibilities, and that familiar tendency to rebel that comes with them, but decorating my home in order to be able to accommodate garbage and recycling storage on the INSIDE is more than a dealbreaker. Sounds like a damned police state to me. Actually, I think they are inadvertently creating a health hazard inside the buildings while worrying about green tax credits on the outside. Roaches must just love the place. I once lived in a condo that required four bins too, but we had an outdoor place to put them. Ughhhh -- I feel for you guys.

                                            Funny thing, here in many US cities, the whole recycling thing is more about revenue generation than it has ever been about being kind to the earth. You could literally figure out how much your town or city was making by selling sorted glass, etc. to the recycling companies. The green discussion has only been legitimized in the last few years for many of these places.

                                            Good luck.

                                            1. re: RGC1982

                                              I find myself nodding in agreement and I don't even have any Texan/NYer sensibilities! Being asked to store your smelly garbage in your living space for two weeks is just wrong!

                                              I like the freezer idea and I can also attest that the worm compost is not stinky. It may not address all of your needs, but I've been around them & they're not rank.

                                              1. re: RGC1982

                                                Just to keep things in context, most condo buildings in TO have chutes or storage arrangements for owners. Goog's situation is not common (I hope).

                                                1. re: JamieK

                                                  Well, yes, that's good - I can't speak for RGC, but when I was echoing the "Move!" idea, I meant out of that building, not necessarily out of the city. Though moving is a bit drastic either way!

                                                  How about if Goog gets together these ideas, asks around among her friends that live in Toronto, and organizes her neighbors to ask (demand) that the building management adopt one of the practices (storage, chute, whatever)? Really - this isn't an individual problem and it sucks for Goog to be spending money, time and angst on an individual solution when a building-wide solution would be so much better. Moreover, as RGC says, smelly waste will attract - and then they're in for an unnecessary, expensive and toxic solution.

                                                2. re: RGC1982

                                                  Yes, much of it is "feel good" policy. Back in Colorado, I paid more to recycle. I dutifully did my bins and placed them at curb-side on the designated days. Come to find out, the trucks just emptied it into the landfill, and charged me more for the "service." Still, I did "feel good," so it was not a total waste.

                                                  Before I go too far off-topic for the OP, there is now a line of trash bags, being sold in the US, that *claims* to eliminate all odors. Do not recall the mfgr., but it's probably someone like Glad. I have no idea how well, or poorly, they work, but you might want to research those. If they work, as advertised on US TV, they *might* make a difference. Or, they might not.

                                                  Good luck, and so very glad that I live in "cowboy land," here in AZ, USA. I thought I had it bad with two HOA's and then the Phoeninx Hillside Zoning Department, but I have it sweet. Thanks for giving me a greater appreciation of how things could be.

                                                  Good luck,


                                                  PS there is a cockroach thread on this board. You *might* need to take a look at it, before this problem is solved. Link: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/597041

                                                  1. re: RGC1982

                                                    In Toronto it's more about virtue, though recycling revenue was supposed to offset much of the cost. In addition, soft drink bottlers agreed to pay a big chunk of the cost if relieved of the requirement to use refillable bottles.

                                                    So what has happened, you might ask?

                                                    - The bottlers figured out ways to get out of paying their share once refillable bottles had vanished from the scene

                                                    - One of the composting plants was shut down by the courts after neighbouring homeowners complained about the smell

                                                    - There is inadequate composting capacity overall, so much of the stinking "green bin" stuff ends up in the landfill anyway

                                                    - Most of the recycling market recently dried up. Some Canadian cities that were paid for (unsorted) recyclables in the past must now presort it and then pay to have it hauled away

                                                    - It seems that much of the actual recycling process takes place in China. We ship recyclable material to China, where people manually sort it under grim working conditions, it gets reprocessed into low value junk, and then it gets shipped back here. This is "green"?

                                                    - As mentioned in other posts, the "bin system", which cost millions to implement, does not work in the city core. This has caused garbage storage issues, pedestrian and traffic hazards, and (in my neighbourhood) a two hour INCREASE in garbage collection time. The bins also look like hell in our officially "clean and beautiful" city.

                                                    While this "waste management" angst makes many people feel good (I used to, but don't anymore), reducing and reusing are obviously the only answer. Recycling is a crock.

                                                    The one bright spot is our (unpleasant to patronize) Beer Store monopoly, where something like 98% of bottles are returned and reused many times. Of course, the major brewers, who own the Beer Store, are trying to move us to "recyclable" cans.

                                                    1. re: embee

                                                      You're kidding. Realistically the only solution is to make the companies that generate the waste responsible for the waste. I'm quite fed up with the giant corporates pushing Canada around. Recyclable cans? Enough already. Proof positive that the beer industry is no longer Canadian owned and operated.

                                                      BTW I live in a very clean low-rise condo. This is why it has no chute. It isn't a rank and rat infested hell hole. There is garbage pick-up every week. The primary problem is that there's no storage external to the building.

                                                      The secondary problem is that I recycle so religiously I'm left with about a half a grocery bag of waste each week or not enough to take out. What IS in that bag is primarily food waste since, yes, green bins downtown? That'll happen as soon as there's no vermin downtown. That's right, never. Needless to say, the funk-ables becomes more intense with each passing week until I green bag qualify.

                                                      Since getting these suggestions I haven't had a single problem. Once again, thanks to all for your help and sympathy.

                                              2. I've uploaded a photo of our beautiful infamous bins! And there's a pic of our lovely green bins at the link, plus the cute critters who get to chow at a green bin banquet every week -

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: JamieK

                                                  And those are just our small green bins, used for compostibles and collected weekly. The others, collected biweekly, are at:

                                                  Click on Bin Visuals, Your size options:
                                                  Blue Bins and Garbage Bins

                                                  We can't store anything bigger than a medium size bin without blocking the street. We have three medium size blue bins, one gray bin, and two green bins for two adults, a small dog, and two cats. At least they can remain outside.

                                                  These bins were designed for an automated collection system, but automated collection isn't possible in this area.

                                                  We have had many visits from those cute critters in JamieK's post. They usually get what they want despite precautions and considerable cat litter and dog poo content.

                                                2. Here is a possible solution for you and it is in Toronto at Lee Valley Tools.
                                                  You would have to separate the stinky from the non-stinky as it is not very big. 11" x 7"


                                                  1. Sorry, but my method is pretty plain. We tightly tie the bag, and it goes out to the trashcan. In your case, that doesn't work well. Maybe leave it on the doorstep of that grumpy neighbor?

                                                    I wish that I had something to help you with, but almost everything we have tried, other than above, has then smelled like "stinky food" under a spruce tree, or similar.