Dear Heloise:

A gentleman asked you for your recipe for window cleaner, and he mentioned one containing both ammonia and vinegar. You said it WASN'T your recipe, and you're right. It's one that got reprinted every few years in another column, and it did mix vinegar and ammonia. I guess someone figured that if ammonia cleans windows and vinegar cleans windows, why not try them all together? As I explain to my chemistry students every year, all you'd get is salt water -- they neutralize each other.

This year, when I teach my students acid base chemistry, I'll tell them there's one advice columnist who knows her high-school chemistry. Keep up the good work.

Steve Rezendes, chemistry teacher, West Potomac High School, Fairfax

Thank you for the very kind words, and since I took physics instead of chemistry, it really means a lot to me! It was nice chatting with you recently, and I look forward to getting hints from your students. Many of the "old" recipes that are floating around out there might work, and many DO NOT. This is why we have the Heloise Update in this column. It's always best to check it out, and recheck it, too.

Vinegar is my all-time favorite household cleaner and deodorizer! To wash windows, just add 1/2 to 1 cup white or apple-cider vinegar to 1/2 gallon of water. Spray windows liberally and wipe dry. That's all there is to it.

And remember, when drying windows, dry the outside horizontally and the inside vertically. This way, if there is a streak, you can tell if it's on the inside or the outside of the glass.

P.S. Here's a quote about this subject from one of my mother's books, "Heloise All Around the House" (1965): " . . . after washing (cloth diapers), a rinsing in vinegar and water solution can't be beat . . . vinegar neutralizes the ammonia in diapers."

Dear Heloise:

Use a clean three-inch paintbrush to clean out all the crumbs from your toaster.

Who really wants last month's crumbs on his or her plate?

Sheryl S. in Baton Rouge

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