It’s a dirty job, but the brothers Payton and Stockton Berry want to do it.
The two college students have created the aptly named Cleaner Cans where they, as the name implies, clean out residents’ garbage cans.
“We’re getting the word out that we’re here, and that we can clean their garbage cans,” said Payton Berry. “It’s kind of a new industry that’s started.”
Payton Berry noted that cleaning out garbage cans is akin to cleaning out toilets.
“Think about how toilets get gross, and we clean them on a regular basis. We also should clean garbage cans because they get dirty, and they get used,” he said. “If you want to live in a clean environment, it only makes sense to clean your garbage cans. They collect E. coli and bacteria just like toilets do.”
The Berry brothers clean the residential garbage cans that garbage trucks pick up and dump each week.
“We’ve never been asked to clean a kitchen garbage can. It’s mostly been garbage cans supplied by the city or PSI,” Payton said.
The Berrys have about 100 customers from Rexburg to Idaho Falls. Those customers are appreciative of the work the brothers do.
“A lot of people like it. People really pay for that,” Payton said.
The brothers’ parents, Preston and Lisa Berry, taught their sons that they could make money by providing a service to potential customers were unwilling to do themselves but instead were willing to pay others to do it for them.
“They always told us that ‘If you want to make money, go find something they don’t like to do, offer to do it for them, and they’ll pay you,” Payton Berry said.
Berry said that residents have proven to be good customers and eager to have someone else clean out their garbage cans.
“We’re in a very blessed area,” Payton said. “A lot of people have the money and can pay for someone to do this and create a money flow for the economy.”
Berry says that cleaning out garbage cans can be a bit of a challenge at times, but the pay makes it worth it.
“I don’t like doing it, but it pays enough that I want to do it. It’s fun being a young business owner,” Payton said.
The Berrys wear gloves, glasses, eye protection, face masks and long-sleeved shirts while cleaning out the garbage cans. They clean from April through the middle of October, and rely on different cleaning schedules that vary from once a month to every other month to a one-time cleaning.
The brothers clean on garbage pickup day.
“We have customers tell us the approximate time their garbage can is picked up. Some cans get cleaned early in the morning around 10 or 11, and some don’t get cleaned until 1 or 2 in the afternoon. It depends on when the garbage truck shows up,” he said.
How long it takes them to clean a garbage can depends on how dirty the receptacle is, Berry said.
“It can be as short as 15 minutes per can,” Payton said. “If you have had a garbage can for 10 or 20 years, the plastic is very poor and absorbs a lot of the chemicals. That can take up towards 30 minutes per can.”
A garbage can that’s never been cleaned usually requires a lot of elbow grease, Berry said.
“The first time is normally the worst — it’s been a lot of years that it hasn’t been cleaned,” Payton said. “It takes longer and a little bit more effort. It’s a little bit more dirty and crusted. It’s been on there for a long time,” he said.
The Berry brothers have five routes, and it takes between four and seven hours to clean each route. They spend between 10 to 15 hours a week on the job.
The brothers hope to expand their routes and were recently in touch with the City of Ammon about cleaning customers’ garbage cans.
“They get requests for new garbage cans. The customer’s current one is gross and nasty, and they want a new one,” Payton said. “We’re in the process of setting up a contract, and when the old gross garbage can gets dropped off at the facility, we’re going to go clean that.”
The money earned helps pay for the Berry brothers’ education. Stockton is attending Idaho State University where he’s majoring in business while Payton attends Brigham Young University-Idaho where he’s majoring in special education.
It’s during the upcoming summer months that the Berry brothers focus on their business.
“My brother does most of the finances and kind of the balancing of the books.” Payton said. “That’s his major. The glove fits for him. I do the day to day cleaning and makes sure everybody’s happy. If he needs help, I go help him and vise versa,” he said.
Stockton got the idea for the brothers’ business while looking for ways to make some extra cash.
“He has a business mind. He looks at businesses and different ideas come to him. He was on Facebook and saw an ad for garbage can cleaning and clicked on the ad,” he said. “Stockton thought on the idea for a few months and thought ‘I can start that. No one else does that in the area’ and went from there.”
Stockton started the business while Payton was serving a church mission in Sacramento. After Payton returned last year, Stockton invited him to join the business.
“I said, ‘I’d be more than happy to.’ I got back this last summer,” Payton said. “When I got home, we accrued 40 customers and in three or four months we were up to 100,.”
Payton thanks his parents for teaching their five children to learn how to work.
“They gave us the work ethic and the mind set to kind of make our own way in life,” he said.
While growing up, Payton never imagined owning a garbage can company.
“Like most little kids, I wanted to be a firefighter, a police officer or an astronaut. I never dreamed of owning a garbage can company. It never crossed my mind,” he said.
Payton urged anyone interested in starting their own business to find out what their community’s wants are.
“Find a need or something that people don’t like to do themselves. If people are thirsty, and we are in the desert, we need water — find a way to supply water,” Payton said.
For more information on the business, visit yourcleanercans.com or call 208-403-0818.