Dear Heloise:

I recently bought two midpriced feather and down pillows, and after only a couple of months of having them, they now have an unpleasant odor. I did not keep the information to write to the company and feel somewhat awkward about taking back pillows I have slept on for a few months. I realize that they are washable, but I'm afraid that it will only make the smell worse.

Marcia Rossi

Winter Springs, Fla.

We took your question to a couple of down-pillow manufacturers, and here is what they had to say. First of all, they weren't sure why your pillows would have an odor. Some down pillows can be machine-washed -- but you must follow the care labels exactly.

Special note: It might take the pillows several hours to dry in the dryer, and even if the pillows feel dry, they might still be damp inside. If you notice that the pillows have lumps and clumps, this might mean that they are not completely dry, and they could mildew.

If you don't want to try washing the pillows at home (some manufacturers don't recommend it), you might want to call the store where you bought the pillows. The store might offer to replace the pillows, or at least tell you who the manufacturer is.

Heloise hint: Place the pillows in the dryer on the "fluff" cycle with a couple of fabric-softener sheets, and see if this helps at all. Add a tennis ball, which helps fluff the pillows back up.

Dear Heloise:

When you have a scheduled doctor's appointment, is it a good idea to carry a list of your concerns? I have been ridiculed for doing this.

Jane, via e-mail

Well, don't let anyone bug you! Jane, taking a list of concerns and questions is a good idea. This way, you won't forget to mention them to the doctor, plus they are in writing and can be answered in a more efficient manner. It's also a good idea to take along a written list of your medications. One of my assistants said that the last time she went to her doctor, her mind just went blank, and she couldn't remember the name of her medication.

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)2004, King Features Syndicate