Kitchen Pail Maintenance & Alternatives

Residents are provided a Sure-Close kitchen pail with their Recology San Mateo County waste service. To order a kitchen pail, click here. Learn more about caring for your Sure-Close kitchen pail or about different kitchen pail alternatives below!


5 Easy Ways To Care For Your Kitchen Pail
For A Great Composting Experience!

  1. Line your kitchen pail with a BPI-certified bag, newspaper, or paper bag to keep it clean. Click here to read more about BPI bags and BPI bag alternatives.
  2. No liners? No problem! Rinse or wipe pail clean as needed to keep it smelling fresh. Click here for a natural, all-purpose cleaner and disinfectant recipe.
  3. Prefer to use the dishwasher? Go right ahead! This kitchen pail is dishwasher safe, but just make sure to avoid the heat dry setting.
  4. Empty the contents of your kitchen pail into your green compost cart every 1-2 days to prevent odors.
  5. Extend the 1-2 days suggested limit by placing your pail in the freezer! Freezing the contents of your kitchen pail prevents leaks and smells.

Alternatives to BPI-Certified Compostable Bags

Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) certified liner bags are items you can purchase to help make your kitchen pail to green compost cart experience a easier. BPI bags can be purchased at Costco, Whole Foods, Mollie Stone’s and some Safeway, Walgreens and CVS locations. For a list of approved bags, click here

However, there are alternatives to BPI bags if you are looking for a less expensive or no-cost option. Below are some ideas:

  • Go bag-free! Rinse or wipe pail as needed to keep it clean and to prevent odors. Click here for a simple and natural recipe to use as an all-purpose cleaner and/or disinfectant.
  • Line compost pail with newspaper/junk mail/ads, a paper bag, soiled cardboard or leaves. When you’re done, everything can go into your compost cart. View the below how-to video to make a newspaper origami liner.
  • Skip the kitchen pail altogether and find a kitchen pail alternative here.

Kitchen Pail Alternatives

No kitchen pail? No problem! There are plenty of free or low cost alternatives right in your kitchen! Try some of these options out:

  • Paper bag (bag can also be composted)
  • Newspaper (newspaper can also be composted)
  • Paper Egg Carton (paper carton can also be composted)
  • Ice cream container (ice cream container can also be composted)
  • Paper to-go container or cup (paper containers and cups can also be composted)
  • Reusable silicone bags or any reusable container (you can put reusable containers in the freezer for freshness or if there are concerns about odors)
  • Large bowl with lid
  • Leftover rigid plastic lettuce container (container can then go into blue cart for recycling) 


Natural, All-Purpose Cleaner Recipe


  • 2 cups water
  • Spray bottle
  • 2 cups white distilled vinegar
  • Optional: Juice of 1 large lemon or 20-30 drops of essential oil for fragrance
  1. Mix vinegar, water, and fragrance option into a spray bottle and shake to mix. If your spray bottle holds less than 4 cups of volume, make sure to have equal parts of vinegar and water. 
  2. Spray your kitchen pail thoroughly and wipe completely dry with a cloth or paper towel. If using a paper towel, it can be placed into your kitchen pail for composting when finished.
  3. To use as a disinfectant, spray your kitchen pail and leave for 5 minutes before wiping dry.