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Green Barbarians–Ellen Sandbeck

A Buddha A Day–Ellen Sandbeck


Dear Ellen,

I have owned my metal garbage can for about 12 years, and I've never cleaned it. It smells really bad, and I've decided that I'd like to clean it, but I don't want to use bleach because it's bad for the environment. What do you suggest?

Brooke, Lanesville, New York

Dear Brooke,

The combination of baking soda and white vinegar is excellent for removing odors. Here is what I suggest for cleaning your noisome can: first, remove all bits of garbage and trash, then rinse out the can using a very strong spray of water. Pour the excess water out of the can, then sprinkle the entire inside of the damp can with baking soda. Dampen the bristles of a stiff nylon broom, and pour a bit of baking soda on the damp bristles. Scrub the interior of the can vigorously with the broom, then pour a few inches of vinegar into the can. Dip the broom bristles in the vinegar, then scrub the entire inside of the can with the vinegary broom. After you have scrubbed the entire garbage can, and the vinegar and baking soda have ceased fizzing and hissing, rinse out the can with water, then scrub again with baking soda and vinegar. This works like a charm!

Environmentally yours,



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