How To Clean a Dumpster

Clean dumpster

When it comes to running a business or organizing an event, dumpster maintenance is just as essential as customer service. After all, if you rent a dumpster and it still smells like a trash-filled science experiment gone wrong, customers will pinch their noses—and their pocketbooks.

Fortunately, cleaning your rental dumpster is an easy, straightforward process, involving just a little elbow grease and the desire to transform your rental dumpster from a heaping mess to a sanitary waste disposal system. 

Read on to learn how to clean a dumpster, as well as what you’ll need to make sure your dumpster rental looks spick and span, regardless of what you toss away.

#1 Gather Your Equipment

Like detailing your car and scrubbing your deck, cleaning a dumpster requires a few tools. These must-haves include:1

  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) – Although a dumpster’s content largely depends on its location and use, most types of dumpsters contain items that you shouldn’t touch with your bare hands—or any part of your body. As a result, PPE equipment is vital to maintain your safety. This equipment includes a helmet, goggles, latex clothing, and gloves.
  • A pressure washer – While you could get on your hands and knees to scrub voraciously until every dingy spot is removed, it’s much easier to remove dirt and grime with a pressure washer. A pressure washer is a machine that blasts a high-powered jet of water on a surface. If you don’t have a pressure washer, you can easily rent one.
  • Water and bleach – To operate your power washer, you’ll need a water source. You’ll also need bleach. While it’s inadvisable to run pure bleach through your power washer, you can add water to your bleach to make a diluted cleaning solution. That said, you can also manually apply your bleach-water solution to the dumpster when you’re finished power washing. Seven tablespoons of medium-strength bleach to twenty cups of water is the recommended water-to-bleach ratio for pressure washing.2 
  • A mop or scrubber – A mop or scrubber comes in handy towards the end of the cleaning process when you need to clean hard-to-remove spots that your pressure washer missed.

#2 Wait for Waste Management Services to Empty the Dumpster

Unless you want to remove every pizza box, old mattress, and moldy book by hand, you’ll need to wait until your local waste management service empties the dumpster.

Most dumpster rental services empty the dumpster or trash can once a week, but you can typically schedule more or less frequent service depending on your commercial or household waste volume and cleaning needs.

#3 Pressure Wash the Dumpster

After donning your PPE and hooking up your pressure washer, spray the dumpster’s insides, making sure to hit every wall, nook, and cranny. You should start to see dirt, debris, and grime wash away after a few seconds, leaving a barely-recognizable, spotless inside. Don’t be surprised if the color changes, as well.

After spraying the insides, spray the outsides. Be sure to spray the following:

  • All exterior walls
  • The dumpster’s lid
  • The space beneath the dumpster

#4 Apply Your Cleaning Solution

Once you’ve completed your initial spray, spray the insides again until 1 to 2 inches of water pool on the bottom.

Next, add your water-bleach mix to the pooled water. PPE is especially important during this step as you don’t want the bleach to touch any parts of your body.

#5 Scrub the Dumpster

If your dumpster is in relatively new condition, you might be able to bypass this step as the pressure washer likely stripped away most of the gunk. However, if you’ve used your dumpster for a while, chances are it’s accrued tough grime and mold deposits.

Manually scrubbing your dumpster with a mop or scrubber is thus an effective way to detail your dumpster so that it shines as brightly as your business.

#6 Respray the Insides, Drain, and Dry

Once your dumpster looks cleaner than a new home’s carpet, respray the insides and drain the bin.

After draining the bin, leave your dumpster open (if it has lids) to air dry. This step is vital. The last thing you want is mold or bacteria to grow in your dumpster because you used it before it was completely dry.

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How Often Should I Clean a Dumpster?

Most commercial dumpsters should be cleaned at least once a month. However, you might need to apply a little elbow grease earlier if one (or all) of the following occur:

  • The dumpster starts emitting a cringe-worthy odor
  • Animals and pests frequent the dumpster
  • You’re selling your business 
  • Customers begin complaining

You also need to take into account how often you use the dumpster. If you need a dumpster for a one-time job, it might be better to rent a roll-off dumpster that includes pick-up services. That way, you don’t have to worry about cleaning the bin.

The Importance of Cleaning Dumpsters

Dumpsters are integral to most businesses, events, and organizations. That said, failing to maintain a clean dumpster can cause a landfill-sized level of harm. Here are a few ways unclean dumpsters can negatively impact you, others, and the environment:

  • They can stink up a neighborhood, leading to lower home prices
  • They can host many forms of harmful bacteria and pests
  • They can contribute to wastewater pollution
  • They can turn customers away from your business

In short, the cleanliness of your dumpster speaks volumes. As a result, keeping your dumpster clean is one of the best ways you can show your community that you care.

ASAP Site Services: Waste Management Made Easy

From simple cleaning jobs to handling piles of industrial debris, dumpsters aren’t anything to dump on. In fact, they’re integral to proper waste management.

No one understands this better than ASAP Site Services.

Whether your job requires a commercial dumpster or roll-off unit, we have the dumpsters you need to accomplish any task.

Contact us today to see how our customer-driven approach can help you succeed when it comes to waste management.



  1. Connect2Local. How to Clean Out Your Commercial Dumpster This Spring.
  2. Health and Social Services. Mixing of Chlorine (Bleach) Solution for Disinfecting.

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