Lisa Singer, product manager at Elmer's Products, based in Columbus, Ohio, says the opposite of spring-cleaning is "fall fix-it." However, if you missed the fall window to put away your summer furnishings and outdoor equipment, do it now. Consumers should "scour summer toys, furniture and outdoor equipment for wear and tear before packing them away for the winter," Singer suggests. "This will help avoid additional damage that can happen in storage and save you time and hassle come spring."
As you pack away summer toys and outdoor furniture, here are a few things to look for. "Conduct a quick inspection to make sure all sections are intact, screws and nuts are still tight and there are minimal signs of wear," says Singer. "Look for cracks, tears or scrapes that can become worse during storage or create sharp edges."
Isn't it the pits when spring arrives and you pull out your patio furniture, only to find that the hardware needed to put your furniture together is MIA? Singer recommends you not only check to see if you have all the pieces, you also organize them. "For toys with small parts or furniture that gets taken apart for storage, consider using plastic bags, bins, old glass or plastic food containers so these pieces don't get lost or separated during the winter," she adds.
Now that you've inspected and put aside broken outdoor items, the next step is to assess the scope of the repair. Common repairs include squeaky or loose joints, cracks or missing pieces. Sure, you can throw away broken items, but according to Singer, for small to medium repairs, the solution can be as easy as tightening screws or using a bottle of multi-purpose glue.
"The Internet can be a great source for tips and advice because you can look up how-to instructions or find electronic user manuals," explains Singer. "Elmer's [of Elmer's Glue fame] has posted a variety of how-to videos at www.elmers.com/about/video-library." And before tackling any repair project, be sure to read the instructions and wear the appropriate safety equipment.
If you find outdoor furnishings, equipment and toys that are broken and can't be repaired, discard them to keep you and your family safe from injury. Before putting them in the trash can, check to see if the materials can be recycled, suggests Singer — most types of glass, aluminum and plastic can be recycled. "However, it is always a good practice to check with your local recycling provider or check the bottom for the recycling emblem."
To find your nearest recycling center, visit www.1800recycling.com.
If the item is new or gently used and you've decided you no longer want or need it, look for ways to donate it before simply adding it to the trash pile. "Garage sales, sharing websites like Craigslist or auction sites like eBay are great for selling unwanted items," Singer says, "or consider donating the items to non-profit organizations like Goodwill or The Salvation Army."
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