Dear Heloise:

My new home has a huge, gorgeous, natural-stone fireplace that's been neglected. What is the best way to clean the stone?

Marjorie Speaker,

via e-mail

Natural stone varies from state to state, and yours might have been brought in from another area. Since I'm not sure what your fireplace is made from, it would be hard to determine the best cleaning process. You could call or go by a stone-supply company and take a look to see if you can match the stone. It will have products for purchase that are specifically made for the stone.

A safety hint: The Chimney Safety Institute of America suggests that you have your chimney checked annually and cleaned when needed to prevent the threat of carbon-monoxide poisoning and chimney fires. The CSIA is offering a free pamphlet, Chimney Inspections Explained. If you would like a copy of the brochure, e-mail the CSIA at office@csia.org, call toll-free 800-536-0118 or mail your request with a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Chimney Safety Institute of America, 2155 Commercial Dr., Plainfield, Ind. 46168. Make safety your No. 1 priority!

Dear Heloise:

Bed frames can be dangerous to the feet. I have a wonderful solution to that problem, since I used to have a tendency to kick the frame quite often.

Invest in a little foam pipe wrap that has a slit already in it -- it can be found in most large home-improvement stores. Cut about a six-inch length. Wrap it vertically around all the bed legs.

This certainly helped me.

Mary Roush

Lancaster, Calif.

Dear Heloise:

I just bought a new car, and my sister, a teacher (they are so creative), gave me a good hint. She said to buy two small rubber-backed throw rugs and put them over the original car mats.

This saves a lot of wear and tear on the car mats, and the throw rugs can be put in the washer, versus scrubbing the mats.

Patty Gorduliv

Youngstown, Ohio

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