Dear Heloise:

In a recent issue of your column in Good Housekeeping magazine, a question regarding reuse of plastic water bottles was asked. You answered that "once saliva, sweat and bacteria get inside the bottle, there's no way to completely clean or sanitize it."

Wouldn't washing the bottle in the dishwasher, positioned so that the water goes up into it, take care of cleaning?

Joy MacCue

Winchester, Va.

Joy, we decided to recheck the facts concerning reusing these bottles.

We checked with the International Bottled Water Association, and a representative said the bottles are designed to be used once, and contamination can take place after the bottle seal is broken.

We also checked with the American Plastics Council, which said the bottles can be reused if they are properly sterilized (hot water and dish soap or the dishwasher). Most people don't take the time to do this properly, and because the openings of the bottles are very small, it makes sterilizing them difficult.

If you want to reuse a container, it might be a good idea to use a plastic water bottle made for a bicycle or one with a wide mouth to make cleaning easier.

Dear Heloise:

I read the recent hint about using masking tape to label items in the freezer.

I wanted to point out that regular masking tape is a poor choice for labeling food in the freezer, because it will not adhere at freezing temperatures and will peel off in a short time.

There are some companies that manufacture freezer tape specifically intended for labeling freezer items.

C.R.E., Irondequoit, N.Y.

Dear Heloise:

I made some fudge that had to be poured into a foil-lined pan, then turned out when it had set.

I turned it out on a wooden cutting board and then used a pizza cutter to cut it into small squares. It worked great and made more evenly cut small squares.

Sandra Thompson

Pine Bluff, Ark.

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