When’s the last time you cleaned your trash can?

I'm not proud of this, but until last week, it had been years since I'd scrubbed mine, and they'd long since turned into a foul-smelling, grimy mess. I finally realized that taking out the trash is a dreary enough chore, without the added bummer of filthy receptacles. And with the nagging concern that I was baiting ants-or worse, rats-to come after our garbage, I finally took action. In case the rest of you have been slacking on your trash can cleanliness, here's a re-cap of some easy ways to whip them into shape (and keep them from getting stinky).

Start by putting on some rubber gloves. Take everything out of the can, plastic liner and all. Bring the can outside and hose it down. Now you've got your choice of soaps and disinfectants to choose from-I cleaned my cans out with baking soda, though you can also use a bleach-water solution, or Lysol, or even dish detergent. Give the can a vigorous scrub (a toilet brush, or some other long handled brush works well for this task)-you may even want to get into the nooks and crannies with an old toothbrush (sounds tedious, I know, but if you're going to go to the bother of cleaning your cans you might as well do it right). Rinse again with your hose and let dry in the sun before replacing the bag.

To keep cans smelling fresh, sprinkle some baking soda at the bottom (and dust some on every now and then on top of your trash). I've also heard that you can toss in a dryer sheet or two at the bottom of the can, or a couple tablespoons of unbrewed coffee grinds, or else kitty litter can also work too-just be sure to change it every week or so, or when it starts to get damp.

Related: 40 ways to clean with baking soda

Sources: rd.com; ehow.com; thriftyfun.com