Dear Heloise:

When you upgrade your cell phone for a newer model, don't discard the old one or the charger.

Should you lose or misplace your cell phone (and who hasn't?), notify your provider, and it will reactivate your old phone once you have recharged it. If you are lucky enough to find your new phone, the provider will reverse the process.

Estelle Jacobs, Bethesda

After talking with two major cell-phone companies, we found that once you have purchased a phone, it is yours and can indeed be reactivated in the future in case you lose a newer model! So thank you for bringing this to our attention -- even though we usually donate old phones, hanging on to an extra one is a smart move.

Since there are so many cell-phone companies, be sure to check with your provider to make sure this will work for you!


Dear Heloise:

I'm writing to ask you if I can use regular ammonia in your "prewash spray" recipe.

Barbara from Tribes Hill, N.Y.

The recipe for the prewash spray calls for nonsudsing household ammonia, which is regular ammonia. And for those who missed the recipe, here it is:


Nonsudsy, household ammonia

Dishwashing liquid that does not contain bleach (check the label carefully)


Mix equal amounts of the three ingredients well and put into a clean spray bottle. Label the bottle clearly, and be sure to indicate "DO NOT USE WITH HOUSEHOLD BLEACH OR ANY OTHER PRODUCT CONTAINING BLEACH."

To use this homemade prewash spray, just spray it on the stained area and immediately wash.

Caution: Never use this prewash spray on clothing that you're not going to wash immediately.

And here's another question about ammonia from Norman Germani of El Centro, Calif.: "In numerous hints you allude to using sudsy ammonia. Can you tell me what the difference is between regular ammonia and sudsy ammonia, and where I can purchase it?"

Norman, we contacted a leading manufacturer of ammonia, and here is what the company had to say: Sudsy ammonia is plain ammonia that has a small amount of detergent added to it. Ammonia is also available in clear (or nonsudsy), lemon and pine.

Check with the grocery-store manager to see if sudsy ammonia can be ordered. Usually if it is in the store's order book, the manager is happy to order it for you.

Dear Heloise:

I found that I needed an extra platter for serving at a party. I realized that the glass tray inside my microwave was perfect for this use.

It was easily washed and returned to the microwave.

JoAnne, Woodbridge

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

(c)2005, King Features Syndicate