Maggots in Your Trash? Here’s What to Do

Maggots, the young larvae of common houseflies, are a common sight in most trash cans during the warmer months, and hosing out your garbage can doesn’t always get rid of them. 

Fortunately, stopping your garbage can from becoming a breeding ground for maggots is easy. Read on to find out more. 

Where Do Maggots Come From?

The leading cause of larvae in a home environment is improper trash storage methods. 

When your trash contains leftover meats, bloody water from raw meats, or dog feces, you are at high risk of being a first-class trash can maggot breeder. Female flies thrive on the availability of these materials and can quickly lay eggs on them. 

The result is the fly larvae that develop into little white squirmy wormy maggots.

In addition, if you do not attend to the trash, these creepy insects will have an abundance of food, allowing them to become adult flies where the process repeats itself. Soon, you will have a maggot infestation on hand.

Of course, we will always have common houseflies, but we should avoid creating an environment that attracts flies, give them time to breed, and allow them to invade our trash cans.  

It’s important to prioritize how to get rid of flies in your garage before they lay their eggs.

Maggots crawling over trash can

How To Get Rid Of Maggots In Your Trash Can

So, there is no use in discussing preventative measures as the creepy crawlies have already moved in. We will then discuss that later. Firstly, you will need rubber gloves as you will work with decomposing materials and chemicals or insecticides to rid your garbage can of maggots. Secondly, ensure the bin is outside as none of the maggot-freeing methods is for indoors.

Use Boiling Water To Get Rid Of Maggots In A Trash Can

This method is easy, quick, and cheap. First, bring a kettle or pot of water to a boil and pour over the maggots. Boiling water will kill them quickly, and you can then rinse and clean the trash can or bin meticulously to wash out the dead larvae. Finally, you can use your garbage disposal system to flush them down.

In addition, depending on the number of maggots, you may need to repeat the process. It’s crucial to eliminate all of the larvae, or you risk transferring the problem to another part of your home or property. However, you want to avoid attracting new flies to repeat the invasion. Optionally, you can sprinkle baking soda in the can to absorb and neutralize the remaining odors. A good tip, it is a natural anti-bacterial too.

Commercial Insecticides

Most pest control sprays will probably kill fly larvae, but insecticides containing Permethrin work best. Permethrin is a synthetic insecticide chemical substance that kills and repels many insects. Permethrin insecticides come in ready-to-use sprays or concentrate on creating a mixture that you can apply directly or in areas around the source of the maggot problem.

In addition, Prallethrin is a pyrethroid synthetic insecticide mainly applied to control flying insects. Therefore, when you contain the flies, you can prevent the maggot stage, which would probably kill the larvae. Below are some excellent examples of typical insecticides that control maggots and flies.

Permethrin 10 is odorless and safe to use in a home environment. It is an easy-to-use concentrate to mix with water and apply on maggot target areas. Raid multi-insect killer also contains phenothrin and Prallethrin and is excellent for controlling flying and crawling insects, such as roaches, ants, flies, and maggots. Also, Pyrid-aerosol insecticides are made with natural ingredients and are perfect for killing and controlling flies.

Lastly, most of these insecticides are safe for use in and around the house, refrain and take precautions not to get them in your eyes, nose, ears, or mouth. Immediately flush it with water and ensure you use rubber or disposable gloves. In addition, please keep it away from your pets or pet feeding bowls.

Vinegar & Water Solution

This method is another budget but effective way to eliminate maggots in your trash can. Larvae take after their parents as they love food and sweets, but acidic, not so much. They can’t survive in the acidity of the vinegar and will die. The difference between this and other methods is time. The vinegar or vinegar solution may take a couple of minutes to deal with the maggots, but it will eventually.

Preferably, use white wine vinegar, but grape or other acidic solutions will also work. Mix two or three parts water with one part vinegar and pour it directly over the maggots. Compared to insecticides, it will take longer. Allow about 30 minutes to an hour before discarding the maggots from the trash can and cleaning it thoroughly.

In addition, to rush the kill, use boiling water in the solution. The hot water combined with the vinegar will speed up the process by at least half. Again, spray or pour on the maggots and the entire garbage can area and allow about 30 minutes before rinsing out the trash can or garbage bin. You can use the same solution to scrub and rinse the garbage bin.

Another tip: The vinegar solution is a sanitizer and deodorizer. In addition, while we are dishing out advice, adding baking soda to the rinsing vinegar solution will further discard odors and leave the bin fresh and clean.


If you don’t want to use vinegar as an insecticide and keep it for your homemade pickles, you can opt to use a bleach solution instead. Like the vinegar method, make a bleach solution with equal hot water. Spray or pour over the larvae and the whole trash can, including the sides. Allow the bleach to win the war with the fly larvae and rinse thoroughly.

In addition, you can pour the bleach and hot water mix into your trash can and close the lid. Leave it for an hour or more in the bin. The bleach fumes will flow through the trash can and kill the maggots. During this time, no flies will come near the trash bin, and you will have time to clean and rinse the trash can before using it again.

Household Cleaners

Another easy and obvious choice to get rid of maggots in a trash can is household cleaners. This may save you a trip to the store for insecticides. As most household cleaners are toxic, and that is what we want to kill the maggots. Again, use warm or boiling water in the mixture to add more maggot-killing power.

Spray the fly larvae and the bin areas with the mixture and allow the toxic process to work with the fly larvae. This method is a two-in-one maggot gun, as it will not only rid your bin of creepy crawlies but also clean your trash can.

Salt And Lime Solution

You can purchase the lime powder and salt at your local hardware store or create a 50-50 mixture at home. Sprinkle the fly larvae and the trash can. Alternately, if you do not have lime powder, the salt, on its own, will also work. The salt affects the larvae as it would garden snails, dehydrating and drying them out.

Adding lime adds more potency to the mixture, speeding up the killing process. Allow the salt and lime to function, and repeat the sprinkle if necessary. Once the maggots die, dispose of them and clean the bin or trash can as usual.

Diatomaceous Earth

Firstly, there are two grade types of Diatomaceous earth, and the food grade is the only kind that is safe to use in and around your home. Compared to insecticides, it is a natural powder and a healthier method to eliminate maggots in your trash can. In addition, it’s an easy solution as you sprinkle it over the infestation areas and wait for the Diatomaceous to do its thing.

However, the drawback of this method is, again, time. It will only start its effectiveness in twelve hours, and the effects should be visible within 24 hours, although it may take a few days to complete the task. In addition, it has sharp microscopic crystalline edges that will cut the maggots and dry them out.

Thus, ensure that the powder and area remain dry – when wet, it will not have maggot-drying or cutting effects. Once the job is done, dispose of the dead maggots and clean your trash can thoroughly. While at it, sprinkle the Diatomaceous powder around areas where you have an ant problem to kill a two-insects-with-one stone.

Composting & Maggots

When you see maggots in your compost, there is no need to worry as long as it does not escalate to an infestation level. Too many maggots will deplete the compost of nutrients. However, a fair number of larvae in compost is an excellent way to assist with composting. Therefore, it is imperative to control their numbers and get rid of them before they become a problem.

Compost bins usually have those creepy fly larvae as they thrive on nitrogen-rich decaying materials. Maggots result from fly eggs that will hatch into flies and repeat the process while depositing bacteria that are useful for composting. Using rubber gloves or a spooning tool, you can remove or reduce maggots in compost by hand. Then, please place them in a container or a bird feeder for a snack for wild birds.

Another way to eliminate or control compost maggots is to cover the compost bin with a dry layer of leaves, grass, or other natural material. Also, close any holes in the garbage can with gauze or a similar product to prevent flies from entering the compost and use it as an incubation area or fly nursery. The idea is to stop the fly larvae-fly cycle and kill most or all of the fly larvae.

Freezing Maggots

Maggots are squirmy little fly larvae that can be problematic. However, they do have some practical uses. For example, in limited numbers, they can assist with composting, feed for birds, and fish bait. You can keep live maggots in a freezer for up to two weeks and allow them to defrost or in the fridge for a few days. Therefore, the cold environment will slow their metabolism and prevent them from hatching.

To freeze maggots, put them in a plastic bag and squeeze all the air out. They will freeze solid and come back to life when you open the bag and allow it to defrost in a few hours. If you have a use for dead fly larvae, you can keep them in a fridge for a few days before using or freezing them. Then, pour boiling water over revived frozen maggots to kill them.

How To Prevent Maggots In The Future

Prevention is better than cure. This saying is particularly true for maggots in your trash can. Firstly, if you can contain flies, you will also limit the risk of maggot infestations. However, it can take only one female fly to start the process, which may result in maggots in your trash can.

A clean house and garbage bin are always an excellent way to start. Household cleaners have anti-bacterial qualities and will help to contain flies, and then choose your bin as a home. In addition, keep kitchen or food waste in a separate smaller bin that is easier to maintain. Ensure your trash can lid closes properly, and use quality trash containers and garbage bags. Also, rinse the bin regularly.

Always wrap or seal food waste in a bag before disposing it in the trash can. For example, meat polystyrene trays are one of the biggest maggot culprits. They are typically bloody and attract flies, and maggots appear before you know it. Also, after cleaning meaty juices, clean the kitchen rags immediately, and seal the disposable rags in a bag before throwing them in the bin.


Why do I have maggots in my garbage can?

Refrain from disposing of food waste in your bin without sealing it first in a bag or container. Warmer weather will also increase the decay and odors of meats, and bloody polystyrene trays will attract flies to lay their eggs.

Can maggots appear out of nowhere?

No, not by itself. Maggots are fly larvae when the housefly lays its eggs in food waste, animal feces, or other rotten foods. This is typically only noticeable when the eggs hatch and fly larvae appear.

Is it easy to get rid of maggots?

Yes, keep your house and trash can clean. Pour boiling water, vinegar, or bleach solution over the maggots to kill them. You can also use insecticides than contain Permethrin.


It is better to prevent a maggot infestation in your trash can than to get rid of them. However, it is easy and quick to kill. Boiling water is the cheapest method, but you can also use a mixture of vinegar and water or a bleach-water solution. Lastly, there are specific insecticides on the market to kill maggots.

Photo of author

Tim Wells

Tim Wells, the founder of Garage Transformed, has been featured in dozens of home renovation publications, including, Home Stratosphere, House Digest, Livingetc, and SFGate. Since 2018, he has helped over two million people transform their everyday garages into something they can be proud of. He lives in Central Florida with his wife and bulldog.