A self-described germaphobe, Donnie Agnew got the idea to create The Trash Can Cleaning Company after noticing the stench coming from his own garbage can.
After seeing an online ad about a garbage can cleaning service in Florida, the entrepreneur decided to rig up a truck to rid local trash cans of all the filth city garbage trucks can’t reach.
“Anytime you pop open your trashcan, you might have roaches that are breeding in there, flies that’ve created maggots that are living in there, and I don’t think anybody wants that,” Agnew said. “Sometimes when you pop open the can, it just knocks you back because it smells so bad.”
Agnew’s customized truck holds two 130-gallon tanks—one filled with clean water, the other with dirty, trash-residue-imbued water—that’s able to lift and spray more than 30 trash and recycle cans in Auburn and Opelika before needing to refill.
“The water starts in a clean water tank, it goes through a commercial steam cleaner that runs past 200 degrees to kill all the bacteria without melting the plastic and shoots pressurized water at about 3,000 psi into the wash bay,” Agnew said. “It shoots 200-degree water at a 360 degree angle in the can.”
While The Trash Can Cleaning Company started in September 2020, Agnew and Judson Garner, his employee, both have horror stories about some of the worst cans they’ve cleaned.
“There’s some bad ones I’ve seen,” Garner said. “There was one that smelled like salt and vinegar birthday cake.”
“The first day I was doing it, one of the cans—I don’t even know what the smell was, but I never wanted to go back to that house,” Agnew said. “But I wanted to make a good first impression, so I cleaned it.”
Agnew said The Trash Can Cleaning Company is able to follow city garbage truck routes and clean about 75 cans per day with each being pressure washed on the inside and outside, sprayed down with deodorizer and adorned with a tag certifying its cleanliness to the owners.
For now, Agnew is able to clean trash cans either monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly or for one time in an 8-mile radius from Toomer’s Corner, though he said he hoped to one day expand.