How to Keep Raccoons Out of a Trash Can

Though trash is trash to us, it can be a meal or two for some curious and hungry wild animals. Notorious for making a snack of whatever you've thrown out in your trash can, raccoons will stop at very little to get their treats out of your trash.

What can you do to deter these cute but curious creatures from strewing your refuse all over your lawn? Fortunately, there are several options you can choose from. Read over the suggested steps below to find a number of easy options for keeping raccoons out of your trash can.


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    Focus on the trash can itself. Your first best defense is to ensure that the trash can itself is as impenetrable as a fortress to a raccoon. Purchase a metal trash can with a lid that locks in place.
    • Note that some plastic trash cans have a screw that secures the lid on the can. However, be aware that raccoons can and do chew through plastic bins.[1]
    • If you're not sure what bin to choose, ask a knowledgeable salesperson to help you – be sure to mention that it must be raccoon-proof. Also, special commercial raccoon locks for bins can be bought.
    • Never leave your trash can exposed by leaving the lid off! That is an invitation to foraging.
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    Secure the trash can lid with clamps or the locking system already fitted on it. Alternatively, you can use a chain and lock – raccoons aren't smart enough (yet) to pick a lock!
    • For a lid that doesn't lock in place, attach plastic hose pipe or tubing all around the edge of the lid so that it creates a seal when fitted onto the bin. Cut a piece of rubber tubing or hose pipe along one side and slip it over the rim of your trash can. This will create a tight seal for the lid and make it difficult for raccoons to pry off.[2]
    • Tie the lid of your trash can to the can with a rope or bungee cord secured around the handles. Wrapping the bungee cord all the way around the bin on two sides will put off the most intrepid raccoons.[3]
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    Set a rock, cinder block or other heavy item on top of the trash can. The only problem with this method is the heaviness of the item. If members of the household have trouble lifting it up, they're likely to stop taking out the garbage, so bear this in mind and only use this method if those who use the trash can are still able to get to the trash can easily.
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    Spray the interior of the trash can with ammonia. Alternatively, place ammonia-soaked cloths inside the trash can or pour ammonia in neat. Ammonia smells like urine to a raccoon, making it highly offensive to them.[4] You can also spray other areas where raccoons seem to congregate, to discourage them from entering your yard in the first place.
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    Sprinkle a raccoon repellent around your trash cans. Raccoons will not like the taste of almost any type of commercial repellent product.
    • If you do not wish to use repellent granules, you can use hot pepper or cayenne pepper instead.
    • Other suitable repellents include oil of mustard and naphtha flakes.[5] Note that the use of naphtha flakes, naphthalene mothballs, etc. may be illegal in your area as they are possible carcinogens; check local regulations.
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    Install motion-detection lighting around the area where you keep your trash cans. Raccoons prefer darkness and might be deterred by a sudden bright light. A 100 watt bulb is a good choice for the lighting level.[6]
    • If possible, place a radio near your trash can. Set it to an all-news or talk station. The sound of human voices might deter raccoons from coming near your trash cans.[7][8] You can use a low level volume and gradually increase it if needed.
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    Place your trash cans in a secured bin area or other enclosure, such as inside a shed, basement or garage. If no animal can get in without a human opening a door, then the trash cans will be left undisturbed.


  • Put the trash cans up higher. While raccoons can jump, the more effort you bring into their foraging escapades, the less interested they'll be in your bin.
  • Since raccoons are nocturnal creatures, putting your trash out on the morning it is to be collected rather than the night before may keep them away.
  • Tie the handles of your trash can to a metal or wooden stake secured in the ground to keep raccoons from tipping them over.
  • Make sure to seal all garbage bags before placing them in the trash can.
  • If you have a fenced yard, consider adding mesh wire to the bottom of the fence and extending it several inches underground to deter raccoons from burrowing under and getting to your trash cans.
  • Be sure to clean up thoroughly after any outside barbecues to cut down on attracting raccoons to your yard. Raccoons love barbecue grease![9]


  • If you have outdoor pets, avoid leaving their food and water out overnight, as these might attract raccoons to your yard.
  • Note that trapping is illegal in some areas; check with your local officials concerning animal entrapment laws in your area.
  • Do not attempt to trap or snare raccoons yourself. These animals can become ferocious and might even carry rabies. Always contact a professional wildlife control company to handle animal entrapment.

Things You'll Need

  • Trash can, metallic with lock if possible
  • Hose pipe, bungee cord, cinder block, chain and padlock, etc.
  • Ammonia

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