Dear Readers:

This time of year, I get many letters asking how to take care of wedding dresses after the big day. Here are a few suggestions that will help preserve your gown and get it ready for storage:

As soon after the wedding as possible, take the dress to be dry cleaned by a professional dry cleaning facility. Even if you don't see any obvious stains, things like perspiration, body oils, perfume, hair spray and food or drink could have left their marks, which will appear later (if not cleaned properly) as mystery stains!

Note: If your dress is an heirloom or antique, take it to a professional who specializes in caring for and restoring antique fabrics.

Dear Heloise:

To wrap an oversize gift, I use a party tablecloth. They come in colors or prints and are inexpensive, too!

Anita Jordan, via e-mail

Dear Heloise:

I had a problem with sheets. I like to pull the sheet up over my shoulders at night. By the time I do, I don't have enough sheet left to stay tucked in due to the extra thickness of the mattress.

I took some inexpensive flat sheets (flannel works best, as it tends not to pull out), cut the flannel flat sheet in half and sewed a piece on the end of my nice flat sheet. The flannel part goes in between the mattresses, and the hem of the nice sheet is just at the edge of the mattress. Now I can pull all I want, and my sheet does not come untucked.

Donna Bauder, via e-mail

Dear Heloise:

While shredding my junk mail for my daughter to use for packing for a move, I realized that I could save brightly colored mail and colored envelopes from greeting cards to shred and use in gift bags. The mixture is beautiful and free. It also looks great in the bottom of a gift box.

Peggy Turner, Willis, Tex.

Dear Heloise:

To clean lint, dust and/or pet hair off of lampshades, use one of those sticky lint rollers made to take lint off of clothes. It works like a charm!

Elizabeth Gatti, Albany, N.Y.

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