DEAR HELOISE: I have a problem with ants in my kitchen. Can you help? How do I get rid of and prevent these pests? — Rita in Indiana
DEAR RITA: What a pesky problem! Clean counters and eating surfaces with a solution of vinegar and water. Do not use on marble counters. If you can tell where the ants are getting in, sprinkle the area with boric acid or borax powder.
Caution: Do not use boric acid if there are small children or pets that will have access to the area. It can be toxic if ingested in large amounts. The smaller the pet or child, the less it takes.
Do not leave any food, especially sweet stuff, out for long periods. Put everything away in well-sealed containers. Clean the kitchen floors often, and try to take trash out daily.
Another thing to do is treat the ants you can’t see. Place “bait” traps around in areas ants are prone to be seen. The traps are available at many grocery and home-improvement stores. — Heloise
DEAR HELOISE: In one of your articles, there was a solution for cleaning scum on glass (shower doors — Heloise) using shampoo. I have misplaced it. Could you reprint it, please? I thank you for your articles. — Glenda B. in Louisiana
DEAR GLENDA: I would be happy to reprint it. There really is no “solution” to make. Just take some shampoo (a cheap one) and, with a scrubbie or a wet washcloth, scrub the glass and then rinse. If you are having a hard time getting the soap scum off, do this Heloise hint after your shower, when all the “gunk” is soft. — Heloise
DEAR READERS: I have a dear friend, Sabrina, who taught me a hint that I use every day. When there is no time to read an entire newspaper or magazine (especially if you get several papers and a lot of magazines, like I do), scan the headlines and tear out just the page or article you want to read.
Collect these in a folder and take them with you to doctor’s appointments, or keep by the phone for when you’re on hold, and you can catch up on the articles. I put one in my carry-on to read on the airplane. — Heloise
DEAR READERS: Other uses for back scratchers:
n Use to reach things on high shelves.
n Pull things from the back of a cabinet.
n Unhook strung lights.
n Reach under a bed.
n Remove leaves from gutters.
DEAR HELOISE: Washing small braided rugs can cause the center to draw up, resulting in a “humped” center that’s uncomfortable and cause you to trip.
I stretch the wet rug, hard, sideways, and hang it from the side, using two pants hangers. This lets the rug stretch while drying and returns it to the original flat shape. — Sarah P. in Pennsylvania
DEAR HELOISE: I was having trouble reaching the crown molding and high corners in my living room to dust them. My husband had a nifty idea. He used a rubber band to attach a dust cloth (Heloise here: microfiber works best) to the head of a broom. No more dusty corners or balancing on chairs. This also is helpful if you can’t bend down to dust. — Eve K. in Mississippi
DEAR HELOISE: To remove oven drips or spills more easily, carefully sprinkle salt on the spots as soon as possible and while they are still hot. After they cool, they usually can be popped off. — N.R. in Pennsylvania
If the spill is stubborn and doesn’t come off easily, then once the oven cools, remove the spill with a sturdy brush or plastic spatula (not a metal spatula, which may scrape the oven surface coating). — Heloise
DEAR HELOISE: I use a small, long lint brush, originally made to use in the dryer to clean out dust and lint, to clean under the bottom of my stove. You should have seen the crumbs that appeared on the brush. The brush was long enough to grab nasty stuff from underneath the stove, yet bushy enough to catch all the dirt and lint, plus a lot of hair from my furry pet. — A.R., via email
DEAR HELOISE: After a bout of sickness at our home, I cleaned the house well, but when it was time to start the laundry, a question came to mind: Does regular washing-machine detergent kill germs? — Q.K., via email
DEAR Q.K.: Your question got Heloise Central wondering about this. You might be surprised when you read the information.
If you are not using hot water (140-150 degrees Fahrenheit) or chlorine bleach, or a pine-oil disinfectant, you probably are not killing the bacteria. When you use hot water plus chlorine or color-safe bleach and the dryer, this will kill most germs. If your wash load includes colors or items that chlorine bleach can’t be used on, use color-safe bleach or pine-oil disinfectant.
And believe it or not, homemakers who hung their clothes out to dry in the sunshine were actually killing bacteria. That’s right, sun rays kill germs. Unfortunately, it isn’t possible for many of us to hang clothing outside.
So, to keep your washing machine as clean as possible, clean it once in a while, and always after someone has been sick in your home. Use chlorine bleach and water only (no clothing). Current washing models may have a cleaning cycle on them. — Heloise
DEAR HELOISE: When creating a cellphone contact, I put the association first, then name, date and other details as necessary. When a service call is made, I tape the person’s business card to the appliance. — Joe Carnell, Enid, Okla.
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, Heloise@Heloise.com.