Dear Readers:

Here is some great information from the experts at the International Fabricare Institute. This question-and-answer is about cleaning garments that have been exposed to poison ivy.

Question: "I was asked to clean some garments that were worn by a person with poison ivy. How do I clean these garments, and what precautions should I take?"

Answer: "Both dry cleaning and laundering are acceptable cleaning methods for this type of contamination. Laundering is preferred, if possible, because of the multiple flushes used in this process. Also, it is best that gloves be worn when handling the garments before cleaning. If accidental skin contact does occur, wash the affected area with soap and water. This precaution will usually prevent a rash from appearing.

"Garments must contain sap from the plant to transmit these chemical contaminants, and not all people are sensitive to them."

Many thanks to our friends at the IFI for their great information and for letting us share it.

Dear Heloise:

I was reading your column about how to remove musty odors from furniture. I found an easy and inexpensive way. I had a desk in my basement, and one drawer was full of old, musty- smelling books that had been stored through the years. It smelled awful.

Vinegar to the rescue! I placed three mugs of vinegar in the drawer, closed it up for a few days, and the smell is gone. I use this desk every day at work now, and there's no musty odor whatsoever.

Beverly Wood

Columbus, Ohio

Dear Heloise:

When sewing by hand, it is sometimes necessary to change thread. A lot of times, the needle is held in the mouth while the person is getting the new thread. This is a dangerous thing to do, as a sudden cough or hiccup could cause the person to swallow the needle.

The best place to store the needle during this time is on a magnetic business card. These can be picked up at a lot of different places -- just look for them.

Deana Madden, Dallas

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 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)2004, King Features Syndicate