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How can I Make a Trash can Raccoon Proof?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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There are essentially three approaches to developing raccoon proof trash cans. The first focuses on making the trash can itself inaccessible. The second suggests making the trash can unattractive in smell. The third method is to make certain that the raccoons can’t open the lids of the can through a variety of latches, buckles and attachments to the trash can.

The first method doesn’t really raccoon proof trash cans, but it is a decent suggestion for keeping trash away from raccoons. If you have a garage or storage shed that is fairly airtight, you can lock the trash can in it. Not everyone has access to storage, and not every storage facility is unassailable by the quite intelligent raccoons. If you tend to store your garbage in a garage to which the raccoons might gain entry, you may just end up with garbage all over your garage.

In this case, you may want to employ an additional method for protecting your trash cans. Further, you will need to watch the smell of waste products stored in a garage. Garage cans tend to smell fairly awful after a while, and that smell of decomposition is likely to be like a dinner bell to raccoons.

The second option for raccoon proof trash cans is to make them smell less attractive. This may also be important especially when storing trash in a garage where raccoons might get in. Bear in mind that the goal of this method is merely to repel and not harm the animals.

Lacing the garbage can with moth balls, adding a small amount of ammonia on cloths (remember, this is dangerous to pets and people), using Lysol®, or putting hot pepper sauce around the exterior of the garbage can may all repel raccoons. They don’t like strong tastes or smells. However, if they can still knock your trash can over, they may soon discover the smells are a ruse, and all of their favorite treats are inside the can.

This means you should also try to make the garbage can less easy to knock over. If you use trash can liners, be certain these are fully tucked inside the can. Otherwise, a raccoon can easily pull on the liner and tip the can over.

Another method is to secure the lid of the can. This way, even if the raccoon can knock over the can, it can’t get to its dinner, e.g., your leftovers. In cities where one can purchase any trash can one wishes, purchasing a can that latches can be an effective way to raccoon proof trash cans. Be certain the latches are going to stay effective over time. Some loosen up as time passes.

If you must use a city issued garbage can, there are a variety of ways to secure the lid. Some people use bungee cords. Many find luck with straps or buckles that secure the lid tightly. With this method, you do need to remember to undo buckles or straps on garbage day, or else you may end up with a full can. Some cities offer buckles for sale that the city garbage workers will open. If these are available, they may prove helpful since it keeps you from running out to the curb on garbage collection days to undo the buckles.

In all cases, you need to keep up an inspection of straps, buckles or lids, to be certain they are continuing to work properly. Further, you might want to switch methods every six months or so, since raccoons are smart and might be able to learn how to undo a difficult buckle, or might chew through straps. Also be certain to inspect the can from time to time, as persistent raccoons may very well gnaw or scratch through the bottom of plastic cans after a time.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a HomeQuestionsAnswered contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By anon342674 — On Jul 23, 2013

I built a two-garbage can enclosure out of 1 x 4 boards and metal hardware cloth. You will need a heavy duty staple gun with 1/2# staples. It works really well now, and there are no racoons. It took all day long, but now they can't get in at all. It's locked up at night and has hinges for the top and end to roll out the trash cans. I have dimensions and pics if you're interested. Now all I see are raccoon tracks on top of the wood in the morning. Good luck!

By SarahGen — On Dec 02, 2012

If the raccoons are determined, it's almost impossible to make raccoon proof garbage cans.

I have an idea but I'm not sure if it's a good one. What if I just put food out somewhere else on the day of trash pick-up so they don't bother to go into the trash?

By stoneMason — On Dec 02, 2012

I'm tired of cleaning up trash from the driveway every week. But I cannot get myself to use ammonia, bleach, moth balls or anything like that. I'm annoyed with the raccoons but I don't want to harm them. I always think that if they go through so much trouble to get food, they really must be hungry, maybe feeding kids or something.

I might just end up getting a bear proof container. I don't know what else to do. Straps haven't worked by the way, the raccoons know how to remove them.

By burcidi — On Dec 01, 2012

@anon50854-- Instead of spraying the trash can with ammonia, I suggest that you soak some paper towels (one or two is enough) in ammonia and put it on top of the trash bags that are ready to be taken out to the trash can.

I have been doing this and have not had any problems. Every time I have to take the trash out, I put the ammonia paper towel on top inside of the bag. I think spraying ammonia doesn't work because the scent disappears quickly.

By anon289768 — On Sep 05, 2012

Velcro Trashgard keeps lid attached securely to trash can. It works really well. I found them online.

By anon248765 — On Feb 18, 2012

Check out tyedeebin, great solutions for waste and storage. They have multiple uses and were tested with polar, brown, and black bears!

By anon89224 — On Jun 09, 2010

I heard about this new trash can called the Glam Can on FOX News that mounts outdoors out of the way of raccoons on any horizontal application like a deck, terrace, gate, fence or porch. It also mounts to flat surfaces. I thought it was pretty cool.

By anon67238 — On Feb 23, 2010

My solution to controlling raccoon scavenging my trash cans is to only place "clean" refuse in my trash containers. For instance, if I open and empty a can of pork and beans, before I discard the empty can in the garbage, I wash the contents out of the can in the sink. I leave no residue that could lure the savvy raccoon into tipping my trash can.

I also use a very strong bungee over the lid. I've not had one incident of trash can tipping in 25 years.

By anon65064 — On Feb 10, 2010

put a raccoon trap with marshmallows in a garbage bag and leave it next to the trash can.

kevin - from Critter Control

By anon50854 — On Nov 01, 2009

I am at my wits' end with these bleeping raccoons. I have tried bungee cords and the special "raccoon proof" straps. Nothing works. I spray the can with ammonia before I put it out at night. They still get in to it and I wake up with garbage all over the lawn. Other than poisoning them, I don't know what to do. The garbage men are here at like 6:30 a.m. I refuse to get up at that hour, especially in the winter. Any good suggestions that actually work?


By anon11962 — On Apr 27, 2008

Living in suburbs of Canadian cities is challenging.

In my area, 50% - 60% of plastic trash can lids have been savaged by squirrels or raccoons, they are followed by crow raids. The later dive in, grab anything, check it out (often in flight), and drop what they don't like, then they swoop in for another grab. both mess and noise are terrible. Bungees don't deter much, and metal cans get wrecked by collectors or snow removal people. Trash has to be

at curbside, and pickup is often early morning.

Repellents work, but at low temperatures, lack volatility.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a HomeQuestionsAnswered contributor,...
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