Cleaning your recycling bins periodically does more than keep your neighborhood smelling fresh. Dirty bins full of residual food smells can attract animals such as raccoons, opossum and coyote, and these critters can quickly chew through and ruin your bins. Additionally, bugs such as flies can grow on food wastes and pester you when you're relaxing in your yard. These tips can help you clean out your bin, and prevent it from becoming overly dirty in the future.
To clean your recycling bin, empty it completely and turn it on its side. Sprinkle the inside of the bin with a light coating of baking soda. Dampen the soda with a garden hose, and use a floor mop to scrub the inside of the bin. Use the hose to spray the soda out of the bin, and leave the bin on its side in the sunshine to dry. Tackle this job when you're wearing long sleeves and long gloves. It can be a messy job, so it's best to protect your clothing and your skin.
You may be tempted to line your recycling bin with plastic garbage bags to keep fluids from soaking the bin. Unfortunately, plastic bags are not recyclable in this manner and can seriously damage sorting machinery used at recycling centers. Instead, soak recyclable cans, bottles and plastics for a few moments in your leftover dishwater. No need to rinse the items after they've been soaked. Scrubbing and rinsing recyclables in a steady stream of water wastes water, but a quick dip in water you're already planning to drain will remove large amounts of food residue and help you keep your bin cleaner without wasting water. Allow the items to dry before you place them in the recycling bin.