DEAR READERS: Many of you have written asking if plastic water bottles are safe to reuse. With so many of us using them, it’s a good time to revisit the issue.
Heloise Central rechecked information printed in this column before, and here is the updated scoop: Reusing these bottles can be a problem due to saliva, sweat and bacteria — yuck! If you don’t take the time to clean with hot water and dish soap (or use the dishwasher), you should not reuse the bottle, according to the experts. Bottles with narrow openings are hard to clean, so if you want to reuse a bottle, use a bottle that has a wide mouth for easier cleaning.
Please put your used bottles in the recycling bin! Or use them to water plants, as I do for my African violets. — Heloise
Can I get the yellow out?
DEAR HELOISE: As the oldest grandchild, I have become the keeper of all the family pictures. There are several hundred newspaper articles among these. Some are more than 90 years old. Of course, they are yellowed and brittle. I hate to throw them away and would like to save them, but when I make copies of them, the yellowing ruins the picture. Is there any way I can remove the yellow? — Jane Goodwin, via e-mail
DEAR JANE: You aren’t the only one with a question about yellowed newspaper. Linda Saldana in Ohio has newspapers that are yellowed and somewhat fragile. They were kept in a musty basement for many years.
My mother’s hint from the 1960s for preserving newspaper involved using milk of magnesia, which probably will not lighten old, yellow newspaper clippings. However, with today’s technology, your best bet is to scan the photos and articles into your computer (or go to a library for help) and try to adjust the contrast, hue and brightness on your computer. Many photo-retouching programs are on the market these days, and they are relatively inexpensive. You can then reprint the photos or articles on modern acid-free photo paper.
Whatever you do, do not use bleach (or any liquid), because bleach or other liquids may damage the old newsprint.
I’d like to add that genealogists have told me that nothing will truly turn yellowed newsprint white again! In fact, they agree that yellowing is part of what makes old newspapers valuable in collector circles. — Heloise
P.S.: Don’t display old photos or newspaper articles anywhere that direct or strong sunlight might harm them.
DEAR HELOISE: I was dusting around the house and noticed pesky dust buildup on all of my lampshades. I use a paper towel, which doesn’t remove the dust, and the dust falls on other areas. All of a sudden it hit me: Why not use a lint roller? There are no more dusty lampshades around my house! — Kelly E., via e-mail
A brush with the disposal
DEAR HELOISE: I read a hint about using a toilet-bowl brush (a brand-new one! — Heloise) to clean the garbage disposal. I purchased an inexpensive cylindrical brush immediately. The disposal odor had really bothered me.
I just wanted to see if the brush would fit, so without further ado, I tried it, and a lot of nasty brown stuff came out, all over me, the sink, etc. Then I read the instructions, and after cleaning myself and the sink, I followed the instructions exactly, and now I have a sweet-smelling garbage disposal. Thank you so much. — Sheila Dwyer, Fort Wayne, Ind.
DEAR SHEILA: You are welcome. This really does clean the disposal. For those who might have missed the hint, here’s how you do it safely:
* Start by running hot water into the sink.
* Rub a few drops of dishwashing detergent on the brush.
* Brush up, down and around to loosen food bits stuck under the rubber gasket. Do not pull the brush out suddenly toward your face.
* Rinse well and repeat as necessary.
* Pour some baking soda down the drain and let it sit until you use the sink next time.
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.