Vinegar can soften old paintbrushes

DEAR HELOISE: Do you have a recipe for softening old, dried paintbrushes? I was able to get one softened by soaking it overnight in vinegar and a bit of water, but the other one is still hard and stiff.

Love your column, and thank you for helping us in so many ways. — Maureen M., Gary, Ind.

DEAR MAUREEN: You are right in using vinegar, but try using full-strength hot white vinegar this time.

Heat one to two cups of vinegar, then soak the brushes for about 30 minutes, followed by washing in hot, soapy water.

To reduce the strong odor in a newly painted room, leave some small dishes filled with white vinegar around the room.

This is why vinegar should be in every home. Because of all its uses, I wrote my pamphlet Heloise’s Fantabulous Vinegar Hints and More!

To receive a copy, send $5 and a long, self-addressed, stamped (66 cents) envelope to: Heloise/Vinegar, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. — Heloise

DEAR HELOISE: For the person who had an odor in the gasket of the washing machine, here is my hint: My daughter, an engineer, noticed that the installers didn’t raise the front legs (screw type), so the water was unable to drain out.

Also, the container for soap and bleach should remain open when not in use. Hope this helps. — Marian E. in Pennsylvania

DEAR HELOISE: Cleaning the inside of the windshield is a contortionist’s dream. I just learned that by wearing latex gloves, I have a better and easier grip on paper towels. — Garry in Huber Heights, Ohio

DEAR HELOISE: I cringe every fall, seeing my neighbors blow or rake their leaves into the gutters, which clogs the drain systems.

Almost worse are the many plastic bags full of leaves left for trucks to take to the landfills. Hasn’t everyone gotten the memo by now about plastic bags? If your disposal company will not accept loose leaves in a garbage can, one large bag can be filled, then the leaves inside crushed and condensed and used for compost in flower beds. Leaves (and grass clippings) make excellent mulches and fertilizers. — Lynn in Colorado Springs, Colo.

DEAR HELOISE: I found a grocery ad in the paper for something that I don’t use, but because it was a terrific bargain, I purchased it for the next food drive. When I find coupons for nonperishable items or maybe a “buy one, get one free,” I use it with the food bank in mind. I keep a box for other good buys that I donate monthly. — Nina S. in Texas

DEAR NINA: That’s very considerate and an easy way to help without busting the budget. — Heloise

DEAR HELOISE: After breaking my ankle on a hike and being fitted for crutches, I started developing painful calluses on my palms. My brilliant husband suggested that I start wearing fingerless bicycling gloves, which are heavily padded on the palms.

The result was immediate relief from the pain and much more comfort with the crutches. I only wish I had known about this on Day One! — Kris I., Sacramento, Calif.

DEAR HELOISE: If you have a small dog or cat that sheds, rolling a lint roller over it is a nontraumatic way to reduce shedding. Your pet won’t mind it, and it is easy cleanup. — U.H., Lincoln, Calif.

DEAR HELOISE: A long-neck wine bottle is just right for watering hanging baskets. — John P. in Indiana

DEAR HELOISE: A hint for keeping dust down while taking ashes (Heloise here: cold ashes!) out of a wood-burning stove is to cut a piece of plywood slightly larger than the top of the metal ash bucket.

Wet one side of the plywood and use it to cover the bucket. Lift one side and quickly deposit shovelfuls of ashes in the bucket and then lower the plywood. As dust whirls around in the bucket, it becomes lodged on the wet cover. This cuts down on the need to dust the room. — Jane K. in Pennsylvania

DEAR JANE: Be absolutely sure that the ashes are cold. Don’t take a chance of starting an accidental fire. — Heloise

DEAR HELOISE: Here is a hint that I have made part of my cleaning routine: When vacuuming, I use the attachment to clean my computer keyboard and tower. Keeping these areas free of dust keeps the computer running smoothly. — Tracey K., via email

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 email,

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