Raccoon Deterrent | 4 Ways to Keep Raccoons out of Garbage Cans

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Sometimes a practical raccoon deterrent can yield surprising results. Find out how this method keeps raccoons away from trash cans and, if even that fails, we have three more ideas you can try.

Raccoon Deterrent

Outsmart these crafty animals with our four raccoon deterrent methods.

Brenda Darroch

A reader wrote to tell me that raccoons had raided his garbage cans three nights in a row. He wondered whether I had a solution for a raccoon deterrent short of staying up all night with a gun or keeping the garbage cans indoors. My advice was to place a small radio near the cans and leave it playing all night.
I got a letter from him later saying that my recommendation had worked. The raccoons left his garbage alone, but there had been some complications. It seems that the radio had not been well anchored, and the raccoons had walked off with it. “Somehow in the process of transporting the radio, the raccoons turned it up very loud, and the whole woods radiated with music,” he wrote. “The coons placed the radio on the hollow of a high tree, so all we could do was let the batteries wear out — which took two days and two nights. The raccoons seem to like disco music best, but we don’t.”

I wrote back to suggest that if he liked country music better, he should try leaving a banjo out by the trash.

3 More Raccoon Deterrent Ideas

  1. To keep raccoons out of your garbage, stretch a rubber bungee cord tight from one handle over the top of the lid to the other handle.
  2. Hang a string of blinking Christmas lights around trash cans and leave them on all night to act as a raccoon deterrent.
  3. To keep persistent and clever raccoons out of your trash, sprinkle a little ammonia on each trash bag you put in the can. This will keep dogs out, too.

Learn more about these infamous masked marauders:
Common Raccoon Diseases
Fun Facts about Raccoons

And if you’re having trouble with other common garden pests, try these solutions:
Get Rid of Rodents and Other Pests
Plants that Repel Insects and Garden Pests

  • Bungee cord didn’t last one night. Motion sprinkler lasted six weeks. Ammonia will be the next try!

  • I just spray my trash barrels or trash bags with Bug spray any kind will do!

  • Silvia

    I used to have a problem with raccoons and skunks trying to get into the trash. Using a hand-pump sprayer, I sprayed the trash area and the barrels with cayenne pepper mixed in warm water. This has proven an excellent deterrent. The first night I watched a raccoon sniff at the barrel and then move on, after that I have had no more problems. I sprayed every night for a week and now I spray 1x a week or so…

  • Raccoons got through my bungee cord defense. Thanks for the ammonia tip; I’ve used hot red pepper flakes on too of the bags with good results.

  • Steven

    I rigged up a motion activated sprinkler and haven’t had much trouble with racoons since. Just wish I could see them discover it :).


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