Dear Heloise:

The toothpaste my family uses has baking soda and peroxide for whitening teeth. Recently, my dark-colored hand towels started showing spots that looked like they had been bleached! I think I've figured out what those stains on my towels are from, as I never use bleach.

When any of our five kids uses a hand towel after teeth-brushing, the peroxide from the toothpaste left on the person's hands and mouth is wiped onto the towel -- therefore, it seems that the peroxide "bleaches" the color out of the hand towels after sitting for a while! I know there is no way to fix the towels, but wanted to let other readers know about this.

Jill Lickteig, Elk Horn, Iowa

Thanks for the good advice! This can also happen with some acne medications, so be careful with colored towels.

Dear Heloise:

I read your article on cleaning can openers. I became tired of the old electric can opener always needing a cleaning when I needed it, so I did away with that one and bought two manual, dishwasher-safe can openers. Now when one is in the dishwasher waiting to be cleaned, I still have another one that's clean and ready to use.

This is much more sanitary and requires nothing but a little muscle power.

Larry, via e-mail

Dear Readers:

Here's an aromatic way to welcome guests into your home this holiday season: with easy-to-make stove-top potpourri.

Fill a pot about three-quarters full with water, then add a tablespoon of vinegar and a dash of cinnamon, pumpkin-pie spice or nutmeg. Any fragrant spice that you like will work. You can even mix in some apple slices and a dash or two of vanilla extract.

Next, bring it to a simmer on the stove, and you'll soon find yourself surrounded by a warm, fragrant aroma. Be sure to check the pot every so often and add more water as needed. Be careful not to let it scorch!

Stove-top potpourri is a terrific way to create a holiday mood at your house. Plus (a double-duty hint): You're adding fragrant steam to the air that will help keep your home and nasal passages moisturized this winter.

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)2005, King Features Syndicate