Thursday, April 24, 2014

Spring Cleaning Part 2: Tips for Sheds, Garages, & Barns


As rain gives way to sunshine and warmer temperatures, outdoor projects move from the “planning phase” to the “doing phase.” Many outdoor activities also involve cleaning workspaces that house tools, supplies, and equipment during the fall and winter. Here are some tips for safely managing spring cleaning efforts in sheds, garages, and barns.

Protect yourself!
Critters often find refuge from the weather in outbuildings during the colder months, which can expose you to harmful viruses as you clean. Gloves, a dust mask, and eye protection are good prevention measures. If you find an infestation or large quantities of animal/rodent feces or urine, consult a pest control company for guidance on cleaning the area and preventing further infestations.

Be careful with chemicals!
Chemicals stored in outbuildings should be checked to ensure that they are stored securely and the containers are in good condition. Unwanted hazardous materials should be taken HazoHouse for free disposal. HazoHouse is located at the Thurston County Waste and Recovery Center (2420 Hogum Bay Rd NE, Lacey WA 98516), and is open Friday – Tuesday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eligible businesses can also use HazoHouse, but disposal fees apply.

If a container holding hazardous materials is damaged or leaking, find out how to safely handle the material before moving the container. Depending on the type of material, you may be able to transfer the contents of the leaking container into another container. Leaking containers should not be taken to HazoHouse. For further guidance on what to do with leaking containers, contact the Hazardous and Solid Waste Hotline at (360) 867-2664.

Plan ahead!
While checking and organizing chemicals used for home and yard maintenance, consider storing chemicals in a manner that prevents leaks and spills from spreading. Plastic tubs and pails make great “secondary containment” for smaller quantities of home and yard chemicals. Do not store different types of chemicals, such as corrosive (acid) and caustic (base) cleaners in the same secondary containment unit; if stored together, leaks could result in dangerous chemical reactions. Use separate tubs for different types of chemicals and never store chemicals near a well or within reach of children.

Tubs and pails can help you organize stored hazardous materials and manage your inventory of home and yard products. By labeling and periodically checking tubs and pails, you can reduce the likelihood of buying and storing duplicate types of products, and proactively “weed out” chemicals that you no longer want or need. The less chemical products you keep at home, the less likely you are to have spills and hazardous exposures. 

Not sure how to dispose of something? Find information at

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