Start Off the New Year with a Well-Maintained Trash Chute

Maybe you have seen a trash chute in a high-rise building, or even have one in the apartment building you live in. Trash chutes have a small door where trash can be disposed of. The door opening leads to a central location where garbage is collected, and while this may seem like a pretty basic part of the building, they pay an important role in the safety, health, and cleanliness of your building. So, let’s take a deeper look at these work horses.

How Do Garbage Chutes Work?

After someone drops garbage through the door, items slide down the chute from a higher level to a lower level by means of gravity. Trash chutes are typically made up of the following components:

  • Trash Chute Intake Door – This is found on each floor and is typically hinged at the bottom. It is where residents place their garbage to dispose of it.
  • Steel Chute – This features expansion joints that are located on each floor and is where trash travels from floor to floor.
  • Compactor – At the very bottom after trash has traveled down the chute, it lands in a compactor. This may be a single container or multiple, and is usually located in the trash room.

In order to work correctly, trash chutes must remain uninterrupted from floor to floor. Just like elevator shafts, garbage chutes can create a chimney effect that spreads fire and smoke throughout the building if not maintained correctly. This makes it even more important to recognize what should and should not be placed inside a garbage chute.

What Can Go Down a Garbage Chute?

Most types of garbage can be placed in a trash chute, but there are some guidelines on how best to use the chute so that it doesn’t get blocked. These include:

  • Making sure that all items are bagged and that the bag is tied securely. Never put loose trash in a garbage chute because these can block the mechanisms and cause backups or even shut down the system entirely.
  • Use smaller garbage bags. The smaller the bags, the easier and more quickly they can make their way to the bottom. Although 30-gallon or larger trash bags can accommodate more items, they are often challenging to get through the chute opening, and they could get stuck. Instead, opt for 13-gallon bags and smaller garbage cans. Simply take your trash out more often instead of allowing it to build up for several days or weeks.
  • Break down your trash as much as possible. Flatten milk boxes and juice jugs and break down boxes.

Things That Should Never Go in a Trash Chute

There are some items that should never be placed in a trash chute, whether due to maintenance issues or safety. Here are a few:

  • Christmas trees, wreaths, and garland should never be put in a trash chute because the leave sap on the inside of the chute. Sap has a glue-like consistency and makes everything stick to it and is difficult to clean off. In addition, these items are typically dry by the time they are thrown away which makes them a serious fire hazard.
  • Cleaning products should never be disposed of down trash chutes because the liquids could get into the gears of the compactor and cause problems. Many of them are also flammable and mixing a variety of cleaners could release potentially toxic fumes.
  • Strands of lights shouldn’t be placed in a trash chute, even if they are bundled tightly. They may still end up unraveling and winding around other debris and clog the compactor or chute.
  • Pizza boxes are common trash chute offenders. They should never be placed in a chute and instead should be broken down and placed in the recycling bins.
  • Hangers and other protruding objects should also be avoided in trash chutes. These can easily get caught and cause blockages and backups.
  • While this may seem like common sense, burning cigarettes, cigars, or other flammable items should never be thrown down garbage chutes as they could cause a fire to break out.

Additional Items That Need Special Attention

There are a few items that can be placed in a trash chute but need special attention before doing so. These include the following:

  • Cat litter and dirty diapers should be wrapped tightly and secured in a trash bag and should never be discarded down a chute without being contained. This keeps germs from spreading down the walls of the chute and creating a breeding ground for health-threatening bacteria. In addition, cat litter can cause gears of the compactor to break down or burn out if it gets inside the moving parts of the system.
  • Food waste should also be packed tightly and in leak-proof bags. Bags placed in a trash chute should never have rips or tears and the tops should be tied securely.
  • Bathroom and toilet trash should also be placed in tightly sealed bags to prevent the spread of germs.

Contact the Trash Chute Cleaning Experts

Trash chutes get constant use which means they must be carefully taken care of. The first line of defense comes from those who dispose of their waste into the system, but it is also the job of the facility maintenance team to ensure the system receives routine care. At Fresh Foam we offer on-site trash chute, dumpster, and compactor cleaning and deodorization services for commercial and apartment buildings in NYC, NJ, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. Our environmentally friendly, no-rinse foaming disinfectant cleaner uses live bacteria to thoroughly and safely clean and deodorize your property’s indoor and outdoor trash maintenance areas. Learn more by giving us a call at (844) 487-3626 or emailing us at