Dear Heloise:

A gallon of milk spilled (due to a defective lid) under the front passenger seat in my wife's car. The resultant smell (and we really cleaned up immediately) is unbearable. What can we do to eliminate this offensive odor? Help! Thanks in advance.

Neil Garrin, via e-mail

One of my assistants had this problem. She had to take her car to a carwash/detail shop. The workers removed the carpeting and cleaned it, as well as cleaning the entire inside of the car. They told her that if she had waited longer, the carpet would probably have had to be replaced, because once liquid soaks completely into the carpet it is difficult to remove -- and spoiled milk stinks!

Always check the cap on milk containers so that you don't have to deal with a situation like this. Good luck!

P.S. If the lid was really defective, call the store and ask to speak to the manager. The manufacturer might be responsible and could reimburse you.

Dear Heloise:

I needed to put new shelf paper in my kitchen and found a really cheap way to do it. I bought a felt-backed plastic tablecloth at a store that sells items for a dollar and cut it up to fit. It's better than unlined plastic because it doesn't stick and damage the paint. I was able to line all the shelves for a dollar!

V.J., via e-mail

Dear Heloise:

I have a great hint for those do-it-yourself folks or professional painters. I go to thrift stores or secondhand shops and buy old rubber- backed drapes for a couple of bucks, then cut off the top part that has the gathers. The old drape lies flat on the floor or carpet and becomes a paint dropcloth. Place the fabric side up to soak up spills and drips. The rubber side down prevents spills from soaking through and also will not slip when you walk on it to move your ladder. This is an economical way to keep your floors and carpets paint-free while also recycling old drapes. I use then several times before discarding them.

Harriett Walker

Boardman, 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