Joy of work lasts for years

DEAR READERS: Here is a letter of thought from the Heloise Files that was printed many years ago. I hope you find it heartwarming:

“Dear Heloise: Gather your children around you and teach them how to enjoy work. My three children and I can clean the house four times as fast as I can by myself, and they are all elementary-school age.

“I see no better way of saving both time and energy and, at the same time, helping children learn how to happily accept responsibility than to teach them when they are young.

“The world will be a much happier place for them as adults. And one added plus: I know they will save time and energy as parents themselves by teaching their children to do the same. What better legacy could I give them to pass on? – Janice”

Still good advice today! — Heloise

Fast facts

DEAR READERS: Here are some alternate uses for cube-shaped tissue boxes:

n Storage for a child’s small toys.

n Keep one in the car for small trash, CDs, etc.

n Put in the kitchen for small kitchen gadgets.

n Put in the laundry area to hold used dryer sheets.

– Heloise

Can’t stop this mop

DEAR HELOISE: I love my floor duster mop for sweeping my kitchen floor. When I use it, I always use both sides of the cleaning pad. I simply turn the cloth over and reattach it to the base. That way, I get double duty from each cloth. — Peggy in McKinney, Texas

DEAR PEGGY: Do you know what also works in a pinch? Paper toweling, or an old dish- or washcloth. – Heloise

Bringing in plants

DEAR HELOISE: When I bring in potted plants for the winter, I have a mess from dead leaves, spilled water from too-small catch pans, etc. This year, before bringing some of my bigger plants in, I put them in the small (cheap), round laundry baskets from a dollar store. This has solved the problems of finding saucers to catch the excess water and having a place for the leaves to fall. – Kim Vawter in Bellevue, Neb.

Shoe-rack use

DEAR HELOISE: Another use for those clear, over-the-door shoe organizers, besides for shoes? We use ours for hats, mittens, scarves, etc. They stay there all year because they take up very little space, plus they’re always with the coats! – Amy in Michigan

Quest for counter space

DEAR READERS: Do you love your kitchen? Do you have enough counter space? (Who does?) The National Kitchen and Bath Association ( says that lack of space, and everything all over the place, is a major complaint. No kidding! We all know that. Here are a few quick hints to help you get organized:

First, go through drawers and cabinets and weed out what you don’t need or use. Do one at a time, or just pick out a few things every day.

An often neglected space in the kitchen? Under the cabinets. There are specially designed TVs, radios, can openers, coffee makers and spice racks that can go there.

Store heavy or seldom-used glass bakeware on the bottom shelves, and lighter-weight metal bowls on upper shelves. (This also makes these items generally easier to lift.)

Thinking of your space from a different perspective will help you get organized and save time. – Heloise

Spouting new life

DEAR HELOISE: For years, I have been reusing my empty liquid clothes detergents with spouts. After all of the detergent is gone, I refill the container with water. It is then ready to take hunting, fishing, camping or on picnics as a ready-made wash station. There is usually enough detergent left to wash hands after fishing or before meals. I even wash the dishes with it. The water, if left in a sunny spot, is quite warm and suds up quickly. I hang a roll of paper towels and a trash bag on an old wire clothes hanger next to the wash water.

These also can be left in the garden shed or garage to keep the big messes out of the house after potting plants or car repairs. Thanks for a great column. – Doug Doane, Aztec, N.M.

DEAR DOUG: Three hints in one: recycle, repurpose and reuse. Plus, using it for family-friendly activities like camping and fishing gets you a Heloise Hug. – Heloise

Cleaning with cotton swabs

DEAR HELOISE: A helpful hint I use frequently is cotton swabs to clean in hard-to-reach places, like around sink drains, inside the metal tracks on windows, inside the washing machine’s softener or bleach opening, etc. It is a reasonably inexpensive item, and saves a lot of broken fingernails and cut fingers. — Vera Jezek in Pekin, Ill.

Spray germs away

DEAR HELOISE: As winter and the cold-and-flu season approach, anytime the bathroom needs a “spritz” to freshen the air, I make sure to use a deodorizing disinfectant spray to spray the handle on the toilet, the faucet handles, the sink area and the bathroom doorknob as well. And I’ll occasionally spray the bedroom doorknobs, too! Better safe than sorry. – Pennie in New Jersey

DEAR PENNIE: You can’t be too safe, but please check that those surfaces won’t be harmed by the spray. – Heloise

Home safety

DEAR HELOISE: These are some hints for those who live alone. For peaceful sleeping, install a deadbolt lock on your bedroom door. Get the kind that is keyless for easy exit but needs a key for entry. Make spare keys to give to family members in case of an emergency.

Keep your cell phone with you at night and also your car keys if you have a car alarm system. Set off the car alarm if someone breaks into your house. — A reader, via e-mail

Closet hanging

DEAR HELOISE: When visiting my relatives, they offered me space, along with five hangers, in their closet to hang a few clothing items. I put the handle of a plastic shopping bag around the group of five hangers so that I was able to easily spot my belongings. – Sighrina, via e-mail

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,

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