How To Kill Maggots in Trash Can (Get Rid of Maggots in Garbage Cans) Fast

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Pest Control | February 16, 2024

Man stomping garbage bags with maggots wonders how to kill maggots in trash can containers and get rid of maggots in garbage cans quickly and easily and other natural pest control for maggots.

Need to know how to kill maggots in trash can receptacles? You’re not alone.

Unmitigated maggot infestations can attract more flies to lay eggs, and other pests, and help spread disease under the right circumstances.

You can use strategic cleaning methods, vinegar and water sprays, quicklime and diatomaceous earth, and several other environmentally friendly solutions to learn how to kill maggots in trash can receptacles.

And, there are additional options that you can employ to ensure that these pesky and yucky critters don’t come back.

How To Kill Maggots in Trash Can Receptacles (The Basics)

Maggot” is a non-scientific umbrella term for the larva of many different species of American houseflies.1

House Flies lay eggs in smelly and preferably rancid garbage, rotting meat, organic waste, feces, decomposing animal and rodent carcasses, and so on.

The eggs transform into maggots which can feed on the waste for days or weeks depending on the temperature, degree of ambient moistness, and other conditions.

Graphic of that shows how to kill maggots instantly through garden lime, lime and salt spray, baking soda, and diatomaceous earth as natural solutions.

The maggot then forms a cocoon around itself and spends weeks using the energy it gained from consuming garbage to convert itself into the pesky house fly that flies around your house.

Maggots are a part of nature and they can be found everywhere. A distasteful fact of reality is that even USDA-affiliated food processing plants cannot keep their facilities 100% protected from flies, rodents, or maggots.

How To Kill Maggots in Trash Can Receptacles (Where Do Maggots Come From?)

If you want to know how to kill maggots in trash can receptacles, you first have to understand where they originate.

Maggots can only manifest if you wittingly or unwittingly allow nearby fly species unfettered access to unsecured garbage cans containing smelly and rancid garbage.

Maggots can’t survive in very cold weather. The local weather must be reasonably warm, garbage receptacles must be unsecured and contain foul-smelling garbage or rotting meat, the interior of the trash can must be moist, and local fly species must be able to easily access your garbage.

An overflowing silver trash bin surrounded by scattered garbage bags and various waste items on a gravel area, with grass in the background which can maggots eat through plastic garbage bags.

(Image: Hans13)

In other words, when you waste food, dispose of it in open trash cans, or allow small animals and rodents access to trash, then you are basically putting out a welcome sign for maggots. Maggots do not materialize out of thin air; maggots are borne from fly eggs that were previously planted into garbage and filth as a food source for post-hatched eggs.

How To Get Rid of Maggots in Garbage Can Receptacles

The first thing to know about how to get rid of maggots in garbage can receptacles is that it will be a messy and aesthetically unpleasant job to accomplish.

You are going to need plastic gloves, protective smocks, and plastic shield masks or beekeeper-style bonnet head coverings if you are squeamish around maggots.

You may also need to enlist the aid of one or two other people. Additionally, you may need to purchase garbage bags that are larger and wider than the opening lid of the garbage cans containing the maggot infestation.

How To Get Rid of Maggots in Garbage Can Receptacles: Low-Level Myiasis Threat

Maggots are not inherently dangerous to human beings; so, while you may not want to go out of your way to touch one, nothing bad will happen to you if you accidentally touch one. Myiasis is a parasitic larvae infestation in live flesh, in other words, some species of flies, like the Botfly, insert their flies in human flesh so that the eggs hatch in the flesh and the larvae begin consuming the flesh.5

Myiasis is not common in the United States and you do not need to worry about it; you are more likely to encounter the potential of contracting myiasis from fly species in Central and South America.5 Still, be sure to keep any open wounds covered as you strive to learn how to get rid of maggots in garbage can receptacles.

There are several methods to learn how to get rid of maggots in garbage can receptacles, but almost all of them require you to look at them and potentially handle them via plastic gloves.

The premise of these instructions is predicated on the idea that you have already removed any garbage or rancid filth in the receptacle and securely transferred it to another garbage bag. These cleaning methods are optimal for removing maggot infestation on the inside and outside of garbage can receptacles.

Here are several maggot-eradication methods you can use with household items that you probably have in your home right now.

How To Get Rid of Maggots in Garbage Can Receptacles (Boiling Water and Soap Method)

First, find an area to work where you can identify any maggots that fall to the ground.

You may want to start work in a driveway or garage floor and somewhere with a floor drain or sewer drain nearby.

Maggots crawling on the edge of a green container with a small hole at the bottom.

(Image: Wouter Hagens14)

Pour boiling water on the inside and outside surfaces of the garbage can. Maggots will die instantly after coming into contact with boiling hot water.

You may have to apply several treatments of boiling water or have several full tea kettles full of boiling water on standby for optimal effect. Don’t be stingy with the boiling water either since there may be smaller maggots or fly eggs hiding in the interior crevices of the garden can.

Then, carefully remove all the dead maggots that accumulate on the ground. Clean and scrub the garbage can or cans with hot water and soap.

The Hot Water and Bleach Method

Does bleach kill maggots? Yes, bleach is a very effective eradication method for killing maggots.

Combine one part of bleach with four or five parts of hot water in a bucket. Pour the entire bucket into the garbage can and secure the lid.

You should also pour a bleach and water solution into a spray bottle and thoroughly spray the exterior and interior surfaces of the garbage can and lid.

Always work in a well-ventilated area when employing this method. This is a great method for learning how to get rid of maggots in garbage can receptacles, but you will still have to pick up or collect dead maggots for disposal afterward.

Salt Eradication of Maggots

If you’re wondering does salt kill maggots, then yes, indeed it does. Salt will aggressively dehydrate and kill maggots once you pour it on them.

You may need to use large quantities of salt to ensure every maggot inside and on the exterior of the garbage can comes in contact with it.

You will have to sweep up the dead maggots and salt residue afterward, but this is a very effective method for striving to learn how to get rid of maggots in garbage can receptacles.

How To Kill Maggots Instantly

There are several environmentally friendly ways to kill maggots instantly. You can utilize diatomaceous earth, lime juice and salt mixture spray, and garden-grade quicklime applications to effectively learn how to get rid of maggots in garbage can receptacles and kill them instantly.

Like the other methods, you will still have to sweep up or pick up dead maggots after successful applications.

What Kills Maggots in Environmentally Friendly Ways?

Below are the ways to kill maggots without harming the environment:

1. Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is a crystallized rock substance that is derived from the fossilized remains of ancient plankton.6 Diatomaceous earth is used as a component in many industrial products, but non-industrial grade and food-grade diatomaceous earth is not toxic to human or the environment.

Liberally sprinkle diatomaceous earth on the maggots and they will aggressively dehydrate and die.

2. Garden Lime

Agricultural-grade lime, also known as garden lime, is the non-industrial-grade variant of quicklime.7 Garden lime can be directly applied to soil to add extra nutrients and assist in modulating the pH of garden soil.

Garden lime is also great for use as a garden pest neutralizer. Liberally sprinkle the garden lime on top of the maggots and they should die instantly or near instantly.

3. Lime and Salt Maggot Killer Spray

Squeeze the juice from several limes into water, add a few tablespoons of salt, and then pour the mixture into a spray bottle. The added acidity of the lime juice along with the salt should kill the maggots more effectively than just salt alone.

4. Baking Soda

If you’re wondering “Does baking soda kill maggots?” then you shouldn’t waste the effort. Sprinkling baking soda on maggots will not kill them and is just a waste of your time and resources.

Can Maggots Eat Through Plastic Garbage Bags?

As you learn how to get rid of maggots in garbage can receptacles, you should only have to worry about the maggots outside of the garbage bag and contaminating the garbage can.

Flies plant their eggs in soft and rotting garbage or meat for a reason after all. It’s easier for maggots to ingest rotting food, flesh, or other filth.

Maggots cannot eat through plastic bags, plastic, or metal.

Environmentally Friendly Pest Control for Maggots

A mixture of cinnamon powder and water will kill maggots and will take several hours to accomplish.

Maggots are repelled by the smell of cinnamon, so you could sprinkle cinnamon bark fragments or cinnamon powder on the bottom of your garbage can to repel maggot infestations in the future.

You can also add a few drops of eucalyptus, tea tree, or peppermint essential oil to a water spray and then spray the inside and outside of a garbage can to act as a natural repellent to maggots.

Can Household Insecticides Be Used To Kill Maggots?

While many household insecticide products are toxic or act as inhalant irritants, you can absolutely use them to kill maggots.

For example, while Lysol is a cleaning product with a ubiquitously known brand name, its major cleaning component is cresol, which is a chemical derivative of the toxic chemical carbolic acid, also known as phenol.8

A green-lidded garbage bin with numerous maggots crawling on its black exterior, placed next to a wooden fence.

(Image: Donald Trung Quoc Don (Chữ Hán: 徵國單)15)

Maggots are larvae with soft and fragile bodies that are easily destroyed by chemical insecticides.

So, if you’re wondering “Does raid kill maggots?” or “Does Lysol kill maggots?” The answer is yes.

However, you must keep in mind that household insecticide products generally contain toxic chemicals that can become concentrated as you spray them into the enclosed confines of a garbage can.

Additionally, you may have to let the application of concentrated household insecticide inside maggot-infested garbage cans off-gas for hours since you would have to securely place lids on the cans after applications.

When To Call Exterminator for Maggots

Although it is a messy and aesthetically unpleasant job, you should not have any problems learning how to kill maggots in trash can receptacles. Maggots are girthier and wrigglier variants of worms and are not hard to eradicate.

However, if you utilize every extermination method in this comprehensive guide and notice that your problem has not gone away, or that successive maggot infestations keep occurring, then you should start comparing local exterminator prices.

You should also keep in mind that a maggot is just part of the early life cycle of a fly. You may have a local fly infestation problem that is causing the problem, especially since the typical fly can live for a month or longer.

The typical cost to hire an exterminator to eradicate flies could be as much as $300 or as high as $500.9

You should be able to handle a maggot infestation on your own. Hire an exterminator if you can’t source a fly infestation.

An exterminator is only going to charge hundreds of dollars to use toxic chemicals to kill the maggots when you can do it yourself far more cheaply with basic or cheap household items.

How To Prevent Maggots in Garbage Can

Prevention is the best eradication method for dealing with maggots. As previously mentioned, maggots do not just spontaneously materialize out of nowhere and you need a pre-existing issue with atmospheric hygiene and garbage pile-ups to attract egg-planting flies in the first place.

Develop a regular routine for deep cleaning your home taking out the trash and sticking to it.

Break the household habit of wasting food unnecessarily. Americans collectively waste over 120 billion pounds of edible food annually.10

Reducing the organic refuse in your garbage can limit the problem.

A row of five black garbage bins lined up on a sidewalk next to a vibrant green lawn and an asphalt road.

(Image: Patricia_Artflow16)

Deep clean your garbage cans without fail at least once a month. Ensure that the interior of each can is air-dried before you use them again.

Always secure the lid on your garbage cans after placing garbage in them. Also, always ensure that the garbage bags you use are secure, not ripped, or leaking garbage.

Remember, maggots will only manifest in garbage cans if you give local flies easy access to rotting garbage.

Common Housefly

(Musca domestica)

House Fly in an oval frame on a green background.
  • Description: Houseflies have scaly and segmented wings, large bug eyes, elongated pea-shaped bodies, and spindly legs.
  • Natural Habitat: Middle East
  • Locations: Common houseflies and similar species can be found all over the world

Is It “Maggot” or “Larvae?”

The word “maggot” is a general population vernacular term for the second stage growth form in the life cycle of a fly. It is not a scientific term, so maggots are technically called larvae or grubs.1

House and many other forms of flying insects lay eggs in decaying animal or rodent flesh, spoiled food, rotting fruit and vegetables, rancid liquids, feces, and garbage which then metamorphose into larvae or maggots. Maggots aesthetically resemble half-inch long and wider-girth worms with creepily pulsating bodies that fleshly wiggle as they move and traverse.

Several small, white maggots are seen against a dark, soil surface.

(Image: Emma Forsberg12)

Flies seek out and are attracted to foul-smelling areas where garbage, rancid standing water, feces, or rotting animal flesh is located to lay eggs so that the larvae will have something to eat when they hatch. Maggots eat as much as possible and gorge themselves on garbage so that they can retain as much energy as possible to aid them in their post-pupa or cocoon transformation into flies.

Typically speaking, most American homes are infested with common House flies, Blowflies, Black Soldier flies, or Flesh flies. So, if you have to learn how to kill maggots in trash can receptacles, the maggots that you encounter may be borne from such species of fly.

The USDA has handbooks that detail how much pest-related matter is acceptable to be found in food for human use.2

This fact is very true and should not be laughed off; food manufacturers and factory workers must strive to ensure that only 20 maggots or so can be found within every 100-gram serving of canned goods, amongst many other pest-related contamination rules dictated by USDA guidelines.3 So, even government-approved factories have never-ending problems with maggots that affect people daily.

While maggots are aesthetically unappealing, they also have positive benefits. Maggots are extensively used in scientific research, are currently used in many medical procedures, are more efficient for use in vermiculture and composting organic matter, and are perfectly edible when hatched under hygienic conditions.

Unless you wish to pay for the assessment of a professional exterminator, you can assume that you are dealing with the maggots of the common housefly or similar species.4

The typical fly can live for anywhere between 14 days and up to a month. Depending on the warmth of the local weather, ambient moistness, and supply of food, a maggot can live for 14 days and just over a month before transforming into a pupa, encasing itself into a cocoon, and then transforming into a fly.

So, what is the point of sharing all of this boring and technical scientific information with you? Now that you understand the basics of the maggot’s place in the life cycle process, you can better understand that if you don’t maintain a strict preventative cleaning and food handling schedule, then maggot re-infestations will keep occurring.

Do Maggots Offer Any Benefits to Humans?

Maggots have been used for centuries to safely eat away at dying human tissue.1 Science-grade maggots emit an enzyme that disinfects the wound after they eat dead tissue and helps it heals a little faster as well.

While this process sounds disgusting, American medical practitioners have been using maggot therapy on patients for over 80 years.5 Maggot therapy was officially listed as a medical device to help patients back in 2005.5

Maggots are also used by police authorities to help gauge the state of decay of dead bodies.1

What Is a Maggot Farm?

Some budding entrepreneurs are growing maggots from the Black Soldier Fly species for animal feed, vermiculture and composting, and culinary experiments for humans.

A 2019 United Nations research study found that maggot protein is richer than that found in beef or soybeans and may become more practical to use for human consumption in the future as the world’s resources continue dwindling.11 Maggots break down organic matter more efficiently and quicker than worms when producing organic fertilizer and leave behind a smaller carbon footprint as a result.

While maggot farms are not common now, the term might become more popular in the future as unchecked climate change alters human access to resources in the future.

Maggots do not magically manifest out of nowhere to pester you. If you have developed a maggot infestation problem, then you have a household breakdown in maintaining atmospheric hygiene and proper garbage disposal etiquette.

The best way to learn how to kill maggots in trash can containers or how to get rid of maggots in garbage can receptacles is to always take preventative measures; remember not to waste food, always secure your garbage cans with a lid, and deep clean your garbage cans at least monthly.

Frequently Asked Questions About How To Kill Maggots in Trash Can

Are Maggots Really Edible?

As previously mentioned, you probably eat minute quantities of maggots, and other minute quantities of pest-related body fragments or filth, every day whenever you eat processed food from containers. While maggots are protein-rich, it’s not advisable to eat those found in garbage due to potential bacterial and disease risks.

What Do Fly Eggs Look Like?

Fly eggs are tiny, oval-shaped, and often overlooked due to their size. They are typically laid in hidden clusters in areas like garbage, filth, and decaying animal carcasses.

Are Flies Attracted to Certain Kinds of Waste More Than Others?

Flies are drawn to rotting meat, food, and decaying animals, so unsecured garbage can lead to maggot infestations. Always secure your garbage, keep your garbage can interiors clean and dry, and always secure the garbage can lid after placing garbage in it.


1Wikipedia. (2023, September 26). Maggot. Wikipedia. Retrieved October 17, 2023, from <>

2USDA. (2018, September 7). Food Defect Levels Handbook. USDA. Retrieved October 17, 2023, from <>

3CBS News. (2010, August 9). 11 Revolting Things Government Lets in Your Food. CBS News. Retrieved October 17, 2023, from <>

4Wikipedia. (2023, October 13). Housefly. Wikipedia. Retrieved October 17, 2023, from <>

5Wikipedia. (2023, October 29). Myiasis. Wikipedia. Retrieved October 29, 2023, from <>

6Wikipedia. (2023, November 2). Diatomaceous Earth. Wikipedia. Retrieved November 2, 2023, from <>

7Wikipedia. (2023, June 24). Agricultural Lime. Wikipedia. Retrieved October 17, 2023, from <>

8Gupta, P.K. (2016). Chapter 23 – Toxic effects of caustics (corrosives). Academic Press. Retrieved October 17, 2023, from <>

9Spicer, E. (2023, October 18). How Much Does It Cost To Exterminate Flies? Today’s Homeowner. Retrieved October 18, 2023, from <>

10RTS. (2023). Food Waste in America in 2023. RTS. Retrieved October 17, 2023, from <>

11Ingraham, C. (2019, July 3). Maggots: A taste of food’s future. Washington Post. Retrieved October 17, 2023, from <>

12Fly Maggot Photo by Emma Forsberg. Attribution 2.0 Generic / CC BY 2.0 Deed. Resized and Changed Format. Flickr. Retrieved January 5, 2024 from <>

13Garbage Can Maggots Photo by Hans. Resized and Changed Format. Pixabay. Retrieved January 5, 2024 from <>

14Maggots on Garbage Cans Photo by Wouter Hagens. Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International / CC BY-SA 4.0 Deed. Resized and Changed Format. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved January 5, 2024 from <>

15Maggot Infested Garbage Bin Photo by Donald Trung Quoc Don (Chữ Hán: 徵國單). Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International / CC BY-SA 4.0 Deed. Resized and Changed Format. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved January 5, 2024 from <,_Winschoten_(2021)_04.jpg>

16Clean Garbage Bins Photo by Patricia_Artflow. Resized and Changed Format. Pixabay. Retrieved January 5, 2024 from <>

17Species Information Image: A Close Up of a Fly Photo by VD Photography. (2022, July 11) / Unsplash License. Cropped and added text, shape, and background elements. Unsplash. Retrieved February 16, 2024, from <>