Holidays Can Be Tough on Trash Chutes – Here’s What You Shouldn’t Throw Away

Here we are in the midst of the holiday season. Gifts are being exchanged, fancy meals are being prepared, and decorations are displayed around almost every corner. Besides the abundance of joy and cheer, the holidays can also produce an abundance of garbage and household waste. For those of you buried under a pile of packing materials, broken strings of lights, and super-sized food containers, we thought it would be helpful to provide a list of what cannot go down the trash chute and how to break down or prep your other disposables to make the trip to the compactor room. Some of these are year-round items while others make just an annual appearance.

Items That Should NEVER Be Thrown Down the Garbage Chute

  • Christmas trees, wreaths, and garland should NEVER be discarded via the trash chute. They leak sap all over the inside of the chute. The sap is like glue and difficult to clean off. It catches and sticks to everything else that is thrown down there. Additionally, they are typically very dry by the time they are discarded and are a serious fire hazard.
  • Strands of lights are also a no-no. Even if wrapped up tightly they can still wind around other bits of debris and cause clogs in the compactor.
  • Hangers and other protruding objects that can get stuck in the chute and cause blockages and backups should never be thrown down the chute. They also make it more difficult for the compactor to work and contribute to the burnout of the motors and belts.
  • Believe it or not, pizza boxes are some of the biggest and most frequent offenders. They should be broken down flat along with all other cardboard, newspapers, and magazines. They need to be carried down to the recycle room. Throwing any of these items down the chutes can quickly result in a clog.
  • Cleaning products such as liquid soaps and disinfectants cannot be disposed of down the trash chutes. The liquids leave residue inside the chutes and get into the gears of the compactor. They are also commonly flammable and hazardous, so the mixing of several different cleaners in the compactor room such as chlorine and ammonia could be deadly for the unlucky person that breathes the potentially fatal fumes.
  • It goes without saying that all flammable items including a lit cigarette or cigar should never be disposed of down the trash chute.

Items Requiring Special Attention

  • Dirty diapers and kitty litter should be wrapped up tightly inside a secured garbage bag. They can never go down the chute without being contained. If they open even a little, the germs that spread around all over the walls of the chute become a breeding ground for some very dangerous and unhealthy bacteria. Kitty litter is the consistency of sand or clay and can cause breakdowns and burnouts in the gears of the compactor if it gets inside the moving parts of the machine.
  • Household waste such as food scraps should be packed tightly and securely into leak proof trash bags. Bags should never have rips or tears in the sides and tops should be knotted shut.
  • Bathroom and nursery trash should always be in a tightly sealed bag to keep germs from spreading.

Some Hints for Efficient Trash Disposal

  • Use smaller garbage bags. The smaller the bag the quicker and easier it gets to the bottom of the chute. Instead of buying 30-gallon kitchen bags switch to a smaller garbage can and 13-gallon bags.
  • Take the garbage out nightly. Instead of allowing the trash to build up for a week or several days, discard it nightly.
  • Use your garbage disposal (if you are lucky enough to have one). The less food waste down the chutes, the less bacteria and smells.
  • Break your trash down as much as possible. Flatten your milk cartons and crush your k-cups.

Garbage chutes and trash compactors get constant use. Taking care when disposing of trash and recyclables can help to keep them running smoothly and minimize the amount of foul odor and bacteria coming out of the chutes. If something seems questionable, it probably shouldn’t go down the chute. Disposing of your trash responsibly and carefully isn’t just helpful to the super and the building employees but a great way to be neighborly and help your building run smoothly.