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Tips for Permanent Spring Cleaning

By Stephanie Malench

Spring is right around the corner and that means spring cleaning for many people. The grass is turning green, and it is a great time to green up your home since the clutter, dirt, and toxins that build up can negatively influence the health of you and your family for the rest of your life.

The key to a green clean is vinegar, baking soda, castile soap, water, essential oils and reusable rags. No harsh chemicals to burn your lungs or pollute the water system, no paper towels going into the landfill.

But before cleaning can happen, all those piles of junk need to disappear. Although it may be tempting to throw it all in the trash without a second thought, chances are none of it is trash.

The newest option in the Metro East for those looking to help reduce the amount of trash they produce is drop off composting by New Earth Farm. There are currently only three locations in Edwardsville, but you do not have to be an Edwardsville resident to sign up. The secured drop offs are at Edwardsville High School (6161 Center Grove Rd), Meyer Center YMCA 7348 Goshen Rd), and the Main Street Community Center (1003 N. Main St.). The membership is $10 for a month and you get a code to unlock the bin and you dump your bucket in and take it back to refill.

Many local charities and businesses would be happy to have your unwanted, broken, and worn-out stuff, often for free and some will even pay you.

Power Recycling at 9200 Collinsville Road in Collinsville will take all your frayed phone chargers, shorted out, dead, and out of date electronics including computers TVs, and monitors (a fee may apply for tube TVs or towers without monitors). They will also accept cars and their parts (except tires) and scrap metal (think rusted tools, burnt and corroded cookware, leftover cuttings of wires and pipes, etc) and pay you for them based on the market price for the metal (lead, copper, brass, aluminum or steel).

Power Recycling also has a collection in the public parking lot across from Spirto’s Market on Main St. in Collinsville and monthly collection drives across the Metro East.

Light bulbs and batteries can either be recycled at Power Recycling or Batteries Plus in Fairview Heights at 513 Lincoln Highway. Care should be taken when handling CFL light bulbs and should not have other items placed on top of them in the box or bag.

Medications should never be disposed of in the trash or flushed down the toilet. Most police departments, including Troy and Edwardsville, have drop off boxes in their lobbies for expired and unneeded medications.

Towels, blankets, and flat sheets that have bleach stains or no longer interest you can always be used at animal shelters such as Partners for Pets in Troy or the Metro East Humane Society in Edwardsville. Both also collect empty medicine bottles to give foster parents needed medication that they purchase in bulk. Place any expired medications in a zip lock bag and dispose of it at any police station for safe disposal (never flush medications down the toilet).

Many public libraries, including Tri-Township Library, Collinsville Memorial Library, and Edwardsville Public Library both collect gently used books, CDs, and other media to resell and fund important programming for the communities.

Worn out fitted sheets, pillows, holey socks, undergarments with broken elastic or wires, tattered clothes that cannot be repaired, clothing that cannot be resold, and scraps from sewing can all be donated to the clothing donation box in the parking lot at Our Lord’s Lutheran Church at 150 Wilma Dr. in Maryville. Items in this box are weighed and Grandma’s Attic and the Maryville Food Pantry receive a penny a pound for these items which are then recycled. They must be dry and in a 13-gallon kitchen bag or smaller.

All the plastic bags from stores can be donated to the Troy Library for the Bags to Mats project that the women of Bethel Baptist Church lead every Tuesday night. Bread wrappers, food storage bags, and the wrappers from paper towel and toilet paper packages can be disposed of at Schnucks, Dierbergs, or WalMart for recycling as long as they are clean (never place plastic bags in curbside recycling).

Madison County’s Office of Planning and Development will offer four hazardous materials collection days each month throughout the year for all those partial bottles of cleaning supplies, oil-based paints and automotive fluids that are not to be taken to the landfill or poured down sewer drains. Put them all in a sturdy box in the garage ready to go and make an appointment at (618)296-5237 or

Car tires can be recycled for a small fee at any service station.

Clothing that is in good condition can be donated to Churches on the Street or Making a Difference which both have collection sites throughout the Collinsville and Troy area or schools for children’s clothes.

Furniture that is in good shape and repairable can be donated to Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore in Collinsville at 1950 Vandalia St. in the Orchards Shopping Center or Restore Decor at 223 N. Main St. in Edwardsville.

Outside the home, the last piece of spring cleaning you should do is your flower beds and yard. Do not rake/blow leaves or deadhead plants until the temperatures have stayed above 50 degrees day and night for seven days. This is because the bees and other beneficial insects make their homes in this dead matter during the winter. The leaves also degrade over the winter and enrich the soil, so leave the leaves each fall until late the following spring for healthier soil.

Now that all the junk is out of the way, spring cleaning can truly begin. Start by opening the windows on a nice day to let out the stale air and any chemicals still being off-gassed from new furniture or carpeting brought into the house since the warmer months.

Next, clean the carpets in high traffic areas with a homemade solution of one cup white vinegar, two cups of water, two teaspoons of salt, and 15 drops of any clear essential oil. Mix everything together in a spray bottle and shake. After spraying on the carpet, let the solution dry then vacuum up.

For all the hard surfaces in your home (floors, counter tops, windows, mirrors, sinks), clean and disinfect with a mixture made from equal parts white vinegar and water with essential oil. Spray (or store in a glass jar with fabric scraps in it for natural wet wipes) and dry with a clean reusable cloth.

As a final reminder when you are recycling throughout the year, do not place your recyclables in a plastic bag before placing them in your bin. Plastic bags are not recycled by Republic and the bags will cause thousands of dollars of damage to the mechanisms as well as serious injury to employees at the recycling plant.

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