Dear Heloise:

Upon moving into a new apartment, I now have a disposal. However, no instructions were left for me as to how to use it.

Can you please tell me how to use it, as I have had many conflicting reports as to what and what not to put down the disposal?

Virginia Pschirrer

Fairport, N.Y.

Ah, the joys and maintenance of a disposal.

First, check with the maintenance personnel at your apartment complex, or take a look on the side or bottom of the garbage-disposal unit (under the sink cabinet) for the manufacturer, appliance model and serial number. Armed with these three pieces of info, you should be able to get a phone number and contact the manufacturer for the use and care of your garbage disposal. The manufacturer might send you a manual at no cost -- others charge for these.

If you have Internet access, go to the manufacturer's Web site and click on your model of garbage disposal. Here you can sometimes find a copy of the use-and-care guide that can be downloaded free and printed within minutes. If a guide for your model is not available, look for a mail-in request form.

A general rule of thumb is to avoid putting in hard substances (fruit pits, bones, shellfish shells) or fibrous things (celery, asparagus, corn silk or husks, artichokes). Also, DO NOT drain grease down the disposal or even a sink drain, for that matter, and avoid drain cleaners -- they can cause damage.

Just remember to run lots of cold water when using your garbage disposal, and grind up citrus rinds, when you have them, to help "freshen" it.

Dear Heloise:

My family loves tacos, but the tacos were always messy, especially for the smaller children. To solve this, I now serve tacos in a coffee filter. When the filling falls out, it is all contained within the filter and is easy to pick up and eat. Now tacos are a regular at my house, and everyone is happy.

Karen Kaye, Durand, Ill.

Here in my home state of Texas, we enjoy Mexican and Tex-Mex food all the time. Another way to keep the insides of the tacos from falling out and making a mess is to wrap a flour or corn tortilla around the crispy shell.

Another taco hint from Randine of Florida is to put a thin layer of refried beans on a warm flour tortilla and then set the filled taco inside. This keeps the taco in place and is a hearty dinner.

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE or e-mail it to Heloise@Heloise.com. Please include your city and state when faxing or using e-mail. I can't answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column.(c)2003, King Features Syndicate