How to Separate Stuck Trash Barrels

Stack your trash barrels to save space, then oops you can't seem to pull them apart again? Here is the answer.


  1. 1
    With a garden hose on low, attempt to fill the bottom garbage can with water. Since water can't be compressed it will uniformly lift the top garbage so you can remove it.
  2. 2
    If that doesn't work, obtain some heavy duty dish washing soap.
  3. 3
    Put some water in a spray bottle or other convenient dispenser.
  4. 4
    Stand the stuck trash barrels upright, so the opening is at the top.
  5. 5
    Empty the top trash barrel of any trash or extraneous items.
  6. 6
    Spray/pour the water all around the lip of the second trash barrel, between where the barrels are stuck together. Try to flex the barrels apart from each other a bit to let the water get in between them.
  7. 7
    Repeat essentially the same process with the dish soap. Pour a copious amount around the edge where the barrels meet, flexing to allow it to get between the barrels. It should mix and form suds with the water. As a bonus your barrels will get cleaned by this process.
  8. 8
    Apply more water as above for extra suds.
  9. 9
    Hold the bottom barrel in place and wiggle the top barrel around to allow the suds to get farther between the barrels.
  10. 10
    Try to lift the top barrel out while holding the bottom barrel down. With enough soap penetration the top barrel should slide out easily. If not, apply more soap and water as above and try again.


  • Don't be afraid to use a lot of soap and water. A soapy coat needs to form all around between the barrels.
  • As you attempt to get water to the bottom trash barrel, you may get more water down by flexing the top barrel lip or the outside sides. Tighter seals will take longer, but water will get down there and will not require much lifting.


  • Your hands and the floor may become slippery with excess soap.
  • Don't wear anything you would mind getting soapy.
  • Do this outside or somewhere you can easily clean up spilled/excess soap.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden hose
  • Heavy duty dish soap.

Article Info

Categories: Clutter Busting | Reduce Recycle and Reuse