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It is time for Washingtonians to awaken slowly from the dreary, dark days of winter. Spring has arrived and with tree blossoms and more daylight comes ... spring cleaning! When it is time to clean out the garage, shed, or closets, you might be ready to say goodbye to the clutter, but wonder what to do with all of those unwanted treasures.
DONATE IT. There are many places to donate gently used clothes, toys, shoes, purses, and household items. Secondhand stores like Goodwill and Value Village have drive-up stations and staff members who help unload your car. The ARC of Washington will come to your house to pick up donated items; call 800-826-4310 to schedule. Donations to these and other non-profit organizations are tax deductible. You can also list your unwanted items on www.2good2toss.com, www.freecycle.org or craigslist. RECYCLE IT. Some examples of recyclable items are aluminum and tin cans, newspapers, paper bags, paperback books, magazines, mail, cereal and food boxes, cardboard, plastic bottles, jugs, jars, and tubs. These can all go in your curbside recycling. You can find information about recycling these and more items in Thurston County at www.wheredoitakemy.org or call 1-800-RECYCLE.
USE HAZOHOUSE. HazoHouse is at the Thurston County Waste and Recovery Center, 2418 Hogum Bay Road NE, Lacey. Drop off toxic products that can harm family members, pets, wildlife, or the environment and staff will safely dispose of them. Acceptable materials to take to HazoHouse include auto products, bug and weed killers, fungicides, solvents, oil-based paints (not latex), cleaning supplies, batteries, glues, and products containing mercury such as fluorescent bulbs, old thermometers, and thermostats. HazoHouse is free for residential customers. If you are not sure whether something is hazardous, check the label. Caution, warning, danger, and poison are signal words that indicate that the product is not safe to put into the trash. For more information about household hazardous waste, call 360-867-2674.
When you transport household hazardous materials, store them upright in a box so they will not tip over. For extra security, cover the box of items with a large garbage bag. Make sure that containers are not leaking and that the lids still fit tightly. If you need to transport leaking containers, keep them separated from other materials in their own plastic-lined box. Never put items near pets or children in the car and make sure that materials are not jostling against each other. TRASH IT. When an item cannot be re-used, donated, or recycled and it is not a hazardous substance, it can go in the garbage.
FIRST, A FEW PRECAUTIONS. Wear gloves and a dust mask when cleaning. If you find signs of rodents, stop and let the area air out while you mix 1-1⁄2 cups of household bleach in one gallon of water. Thoroughly wet rodent-contaminated areas, including trapped mice, droppings, and nests. After soaking for 10 minutes, remove all nest material, mice, and droppings with a damp towel and then double-bag and dispose. Wipe the area with bleach solution.
Dr. Diana T. Yu is the Health Officer for Thurston and Mason counties. Reach her at 360-867-2501 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her on Twitter: @yu4health.