Use freezer to remove candle wax

DEAR HELOISE: I am wondering if you have any advice for candle wax that gets spilled on a tablecloth. How do you recommend getting the wax off? -- Dede B., via e-mail

DEAR DEDE: The tried-and-true Heloise method for removing candle wax: Place the item in the freezer for a few days to let it harden. Then use a butter knife or spoon to pop the wax off. You must be very careful with lace or vintage tablecloths!

Once you've removed as much of the wax as you can, there might still be some wax left. Place paper towels over and under the stain, and turn your iron to medium (not hot) and gently press. The wax should transfer onto the towels. Change to fresh ones as many times as needed. -- Heloise

Silk-plant cleaning

DEAR HELOISE: I would like to know how to clean my silk plants without buying the expensive spray cleaners they sell in stores. Thank you. -- Lorraine DeStefano, West Palm Beach, Fla.

DEAR LORRAINE: This question comes up often, and one of the easiest ways to clean silk plants or flowers is to use cornmeal. Put a small amount of cornmeal in a plastic or paper bag, put the plant in upside down and hold the bag closed around the stems (which are sticking out). Give it several shakes until the dust is gone. To prevent cornmeal dust from getting all over you and your house, you might want to do this outdoors. -- Heloise

Water saver

DEAR HELOISE: I've been using a digital cooking timer when I water my yard, since we've been in a drought situation. I put the timer in my pocket after setting it, and it reminds me to move my sprinkler. Sure does help to prevent overusing our precious water. I also try to water just once a week, and in the evening so the water sinks into the ground better. -- Larry, Garden Grove, Calif.

DEAR LARRY: I feel "your" pain! San Antonio, my hometown, also is under severe water restrictions, and any water we can save is worth the effort. -- Heloise

Dorm living

* Don't take everything under the sun! Space is limited in a dorm room or a shared apartment.

* Find out what is allowed and what's not. Some dorms don't allow microwaves in the rooms.

* One set of bedsheets is probably all you need. Take them off, wash and put back on the bed.

* If the student is responsible for cleaning the room, pack necessary cleaning supplies -- a bottle of vinegar, liquid dish soap and microfiber cloths usually will get the job done.

* Find out how many electrical outlets are in the room, and if extension cords are allowed.

Monumental cleaning task

DEAR HELOISE: Several years ago, I saw an article in the newspaper where you told us how to clean a monument in the cemetery. I didn't cut it out and don't remember what it was. -- Virginia Fulks, Snyder, Texas

DEAR VIRGINIA: First, do no harm! In this case, less is more, and while it might not sound like much of a hint, first try only plain water and a microfiber cloth, terry towel or soft sponge.

You don't want to damage a stone that's been there for a long time, and keep in mind that gravestones are made of very different substances. Bronze, marble and limestone all require different cleaning methods.

Three steps to remember when you're cleaning a gravestone:

1. Prewet the surface before you begin.

2. Start from the bottom and work up to prevent the dirty water from further staining the marker.

3. Keep the stone very wet as you work and rinse extremely well.

Cleaning tombstones can be very tricky, so you should always call a professional monument-cleaning company if the task looks too hard, or the stones are very old or crumbly. Remember that simply using water and a cloth might do the trick. -- Heloise

P.S.: If there is no running water available, be sure to take several buckets and lots of water!

Knife storage

DEAR HELOISE: No matter how carefully I place my clean knives in the drawer, some always turn blade up the next time I open the drawer, which could lead to a bad cut.

I put a hunk of plastic foam cut to size in the back of the drawer and stick the points into that before closing the drawer. -- M. Curtis, Lakeland, Fla.

Dog hair

DEAR HELOISE: When you have a lint roller out to get dog hair off the furniture, use it on lampshades and skirted tables. It's easier and works better than a vacuum cleaner. -- A Reader in D.C.

Toy basket

DEAR HELOISE: I have several little Chihuahuas that play with lots of toys, which would always be scattered all over the house. I bought a pretty plastic basket (at a store that sells stuff for a dollar) and put all of their stuff in it. It is in the spare bedroom, and they know where to go if they want a toy! Now everyone is happy! -- K. Bowles, Texas

Hints from Heloise is syndicated by King Features Syndicate. Send great hints to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000; by fax, 210-HELOISE (435-6473); or by e-mail,