Microfiber cloths versatile, environmentally friendly

DEAR HELOISE: I love the microfiber cloths, which can be purchased fairly inexpensively. I use them for all my cleaning chores:

* For mirrors, just dampen a small part of a cloth with plain water, wipe down the mirror, then dry with the other part of the cloth. If doing a lot of mirrors or windows, dampen one cloth and dry with another.

* For floors, use instead of the disposable dry cloths. It’s more economical and environmentally friendly.

* Use to dust; the dust is trapped by the cloths instead of being pushed around. — Dorothy Schafler, South Orange, N.J.

I love microfiber cloths! You don’t need cleaning agents — just use them by themselves. Try one on computer screens, cell-phone displays, TVs and eyeglasses. — Heloise

Credit-card bills

DEAR HELOISE: Please remind people when using their credit card at restaurants to fill in the total amount line so no one else can add anything to the bill. As a cashier, I am amazed at how many people don’t realize what can happen. — Joan P., via e-mail

It is important to check the charges on your receipt are correct, add a tip and total it at the bottom. By keeping the customer copy, you can balance it against the credit-card bill. — Heloise

Not just for shoes

DEAR HELOISE: I read about the canvas shoe bag used in the shower for shampoo, etc. My husband has a shoe bag hanging on the back of the door to his workshop. He puts cans and bottles like wasp spray, car-cleaning items, etc., in his.

Mine is on the back of the door to my craft room, where I store items such as bottles of various craft glues, glue guns, hole punches and even all my scissors and pinking shears.

The things used often are right at hand for quick retrieval, and putting them back is a snap. No longer do we have to hunt through shelves or drawers for the small things we use often. — Linda in Arkansas

Dishwashing detergent

DEAR HELOISE: I try to buy dishwasher detergent on sale, but even the smallest boxes are very heavy and difficult to handle. My solution was to pour the powder into a recycled plastic quart-size milk jug. A funnel makes this task easier, and once the jug is filled, pouring detergent into the dishwasher is so much easier because of the handle.

Extra bonus: If some detergent is spilled into the sink during the transfer, it makes for a great cleanser there, especially if the sink is stainless steel. — Paula J. Lewis, Houston

Good storage hint! Please note that dishwasher detergent contains chlorine bleach, so the sink should be rinsed well to avoid staining. — Heloise

Travel hint

DEAR HELOISE: I have found a way to avoid paying those high prices the airports charge for bottled water that you must purchase on the other side of security. I pack an empty water bottle in my carry-on — it goes through security just fine. Then I stop at the first drinking fountain I come to and fill up my water bottle. — Nancy in Ohio

I do the same, but now carry a sturdy, plastic, reusable sports bottle. It’s bright-yellow, and I don’t leave it behind by mistake.

Speaking of travel hints, here’s another one, from Hana in Hawaii: “I can’t say enough about the benefits of using bra extenders when traveling. Whenever I have a night flight and it’s time to sleep, I just hook on the extender. I can still wear my bra, but it’s looser by about 3 inches in the back and definitely more comfortable. Bra extenders can be found in the notions section of most fabric stores.”

— Heloise

Handy paint label

DEAR HELOISE: When I get a paint mixed, I ask for an extra label with the formula, then save a small jar for touch-ups and put the extra label on it. This saves me from having to search for the can or taking up space saving an empty can. When I want to duplicate the paint if I move or use the color again, I have the mix formula immediately available. The label could also be kept in a book for reference later on. — Debbie in Texas

No more lost items

DEAR HELOISE: Ever put something (such as a key or an important letter) away in a perfectly logical place where you know you will find it again, and then you can’t find it? Try this: After putting the item away, send an e-mail to yourself giving the location. When you have “lost” the item, just do a search in your e-mail to come up with the reminder. — Al Bayless, Kihei, Maui, Hawaii

Dangerous foods for dogs

DEAR READERS: We thought we would share some important information about foods that are dangerous to feed your dogs. Read this, cut it out and post it on the refrigerator so that everyone knows what not to feed your pampered pet.

* Raw eggs: can lead to skin and fur problems.

* Moldy foods: refrigerated foods that have become moldy, such as cheese, can cause health problems.

* Fats from meat: the skin of various kinds of meat is a real danger to your dog’s health, so don’t give your pet rendered fat or the skin to eat, since it can lead to obesity and other problems.

* Mushrooms: can cause various health problems.

* Caffeine: coffee, tea and caffeinated sodas can affect the heart and nervous systems.

* Raisins and grapes: both contain toxins that can damage the kidneys.

These are only a few of the things that you should not feed your dog. Dogs gobble food — they don’t taste and savor — so watch what they eat. — Heloise

Fish aquarium

DEAR HELOISE: My son said he really wanted a fish aquarium. So, we bought a small one and a couple of fish. In no time, my son was tired of the aquarium, because it does take some work.

So, my suggestion is to research before purchase. This is true of any pet. They all take some time, work and proper care. I should have bought a book first and explained to my son he would be responsible for feeding the fish and cleaning the aquarium. We now have the aquarium sitting in the garage waiting for our garage sale. — Linda in Tennessee

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.

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