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Spring cleaning recycling 'how to' guide

Besides cleaning up the yard, many homeowners are cleaning out their garages, sheds and basements, getting rid of electronics and hazardous cleaning products.

MINNEAPOLIS - Spring is finally here and that means its time for some spring cleaning.

Besides cleaning up the yard, many homeowners are cleaning out their garages, sheds and basements, getting rid of electronics and hazardous cleaning products.

"We've been very busy," Hennepin County Environmental Educator Angie Timmons says.

Saturday mornings are usually the busiest time of the week at Hennepin County drop-off centers.

Timmons says Saturday afternoons are less busy, but Wednesday evenings are usually the best time to go.

"The centers are open until 8 p.m. Wednesday nights for people who want to stop by after work," Timmons explains.

The Ramsey County facility in Saint Paul has been just as busy this week.

"We're expecting about a thousand visits a week," Ramsey County Environmental Health Specialist Pete Miller says.

At both facilities recycling is easy, you just pull up in your vehicle and the workers do the rest.

However, finding out what to recycle is a bit more challenging.

Both counties will accept most cleaning products, paint, wood stain, and other household chemicals, but Timmons says there are some hazardous liquids in your home you might not know about.

"If a product says it's natural, that doesn't necessarily mean that it's not toxic or hazardous," Timmons explains.

She encourages people to be on the lookout for specific buzzwords on the bottle.

Words like danger, warning, and caution usually indicate the liquid inside the bottle could be harmful to humans and the environment if it's not properly disposed of.

Miller says one of the most misunderstood items is light bulbs.

"Incandescent lighting was not hazardous. Fluorescent is. It's more efficient, but there is some mercury in there," Miller explains.

Other items that contain mercury include old thermostats and some small batteries, both should be brought to a county drop-off center for proper disposal.

Hennepin County will also take your old electronics and appliances.

Smaller items like television sets and computer monitors will cost you $10 per item.

Larger items like water heats, dishwashers and microwaves will cost you $15 per item.

Both Ramsey and Hennepin County also offer a reuse program at their centers where you can grab recycled cleaning products, paint and other items for free.

Hennepin County also started a new textile recycling program where you can drop off damaged clothing, curtains and sheets.

"A lot of that material is ground up and used in other products like car seat cushioning," Timmons says.

Hennepin County also has a smartphone app and website called the Green Disposal Guide.

This online guide will let you type in whatever item you're looking to get rid and it shows you how to get rid of it and how much it will cost.

Both counties also offer "Fix-it" Clinics where residents can bring in their damaged items and get them fixed for free.

County officials say volunteers can fix just about anything, from small electronics to clothing.

The next Fix-it clinic in Hennepin County will take place on Saturday, May 12th from noon to 4 p.m. at the Edina Senior Center.

The next clinic in Ramsey County will take place on Saturday, May 19th from 1:30-4:30 pm at the Highland Park Community Center in Saint Paul.

For more information on what can and can't be recycled, visit these helpful websites:

Ramsey County A to Z Recycling Guide

Hennepin County Recycling

Anoka County Recycling Solutions

City of Minneapolis Recycling Guide

City of Saint Paul Recycling Guide