General Question

Stinley's avatar

Should I wash my recycling?

Asked by Stinley (11493points) October 14th, 2014

I tend to wash my recycling because I was under the impression that dirty recycling couldn’t be used. My husband always said it didn’t matter as they wash it at the recycling centre anyway. The council (who collect the bins) are silent on the matter. Other people we know who live in a warmer climate say that their instructions are not to wash, just scrape out any food residue. I tend to want to clean it, since it might be hanging about for up to 2 week before collection. Does the washing negate the environmental benefits of recycling?

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10 Answers

lillycoyote's avatar

Generally I rinse the jars, bottles and cans and get the big chunks out with a brush but don’t wash them. That’s what my recycling asks, to rinse the. I also rinse it because my recycling only gets picked up every other week and I don’t want rotting food in the cans and the sugar in the soda bottles, etc. to start to smell or attract vermin.

dxs's avatar

I was always told to do so, so I do. I do it anyway for reasons mentioned by @lilycoyote. It varies depending on your community, but here is a list of what can and cannot be recycled. You’ll see that the link consistently requests that you wash things out.
I know some communities that are becoming more lenient on this matter, however. For instance, I heard of a community that accepts pizza boxes! I always thought the rule was if there’s food remnants inside, it’s not recyclable, but I guess they’re finding a way around this. I’ll have to do more research.

snowberry's avatar

Yep. Recycling filled with food attracts ants, wasps, etc. And it also grows bacteria and mold. After you put your recycling in the bin, someone else still has to handle it. Be kind and rinse it out.

I know someone who will scoop out a can and toss the yukky container with several spoons-full of food left inside into the recycle. I’m guessing that recycling like that gets put into the trash anyway. How selfish they are!

gailcalled's avatar

I do quite carefully since I leave my large bin in my garage for 4–5 weeks before I take it to the recycling center. Insects, racoons, squirrels,chipmunks, voles, ect. I leave the garage door open during the day, and who knows who wanders in and out at will.

dappled_leaves's avatar

The only reason I have to keep my recycling clean is so that it doesn’t smell or attract unwanted visitors while it’s in or around my home. So, I don’t wash it, but if something contained food, I rinse it thoroughly. Any soiled paper products can’t be recycled anyway, so I don’t have any problems.

My bin doesn’t leave my house (curbside pickup requires bags in our region), so of course I keep that clean as well.

ibstubro's avatar

I wash mine for sanitary reasons. I don’t remove any labels or other small attachments.

zenvelo's avatar

I’m like most of the above, I only rinse things out to keep the flies, vermin, and raccoons out of the trash.

ibstubro's avatar

When I saw this question again, my exact thought was, “I rinse. No need to wash, I rinse.

Like if you’ve ever rinsed for a dishwasher.

susanc's avatar

I rinse too, and I pour the rinsewater from one relatively container to the next, so that I’m not just flushing water away. Whatever gunk gets rinsed out of containers goes into the compost, unless it’s proteiny and then, well, I have seagulls at my house…..

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