Dear Heloise:

How do I clean an electric automatic coffee maker? The inside is quite stained and slimy.

Elaine M., via e-mail

Vinegar will help clean it! Of course, check your owner's manual first for specific directions. Just run full-strength household white vinegar through a couple of brew cycles.

Place a filter in the basket to catch any sediment, fill the water reservoir with vinegar and turn on the machine.

When the cycle is through, just pour the vinegar back into the reservoir and "brew" again.

When done, pour the vinegar down the drain (extra freshening there, too).

Refill the pot with water, pour into the reservoir and run a few brew cycles with tap water.

Follow by washing the pot and basket with warm, soapy water, then rinse well and dry. Also, be sure to clean the underside of the drip area, where a lot of oily coffee residue accumulates.

Your coffee maker should be squeaky-clean and running like new.

Dear Heloise:

This is especially important with the terrorism alerts, bad weather, etc., we are having:

I have a database in which I keep the addresses of friends and family and also use it to print small stickers to put in the address book in my purse. I added a "relationship" column for information such as friends, lawyer, etc.

When I get through updating it, I will send a copy of the database to my siblings and children.

That way, they will have a backup in case I lose the information, and if there is a family emergency, they will have a way to get in touch with the people they need to.

R., via e-mail

A master contact list is a very good idea and will come in handy for all kinds of things.

Dear Heloise:

I use cheap, plastic tablecloths as dropcloths under my children's art projects and when I paint.

They are durable, and I don't care if they get messed up.

Vallery LaBarre

Annandale

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