Dear Readers: Natural gas is effective and less expensive than electricity to cook with and to dry clothes, but can you tell the signs of a gas leak? The gas company wants you to “Recognize, React and Report”:
By smell: A terrible, sulfur, rotten-egg smell.
By sight: Bubbling in standing water in the yard; dead plants in a fertile area.
By sound: Whistling or hissing coming from the ground.
Quickly tell your neighbors, then leave the area. Do not light a match or use light switches, garage door openers, doorbells, etc.
From a safe distance, call 911 and your gas company. Stay away until officials tell you it’s safe to return.
Dear Heloise: You had a mix of baking soda, vinegar and boiling water to speed up slow drains, but I don't remember the quantities needed. Would you please post that again? Thanks!
C. in Kansas
C. in Kansas: Sure thing! To clarify, this formula is to clean and freshen the drain, but not specifically for clearing clogs.
(Note: Already tried a commercial chemical drain cleaner? Don’t use this formula — dangerous fumes can result.)
Pour ½ cup baking soda down the drain, then add 1 to 2 cups household vinegar. Bubble and fizz! Give it a few minutes, then run hot water for one minute, followed by lots of cold tap water.
Vinegar is a powerhouse cleaner around the house. Would you like to receive a collection of my favorite, fantabulous formulas and recipes using vinegar? It’s easy! Visit Heloise.com to order, or send $5, along with a long, stamped (70 cents), self-addressed envelope, to: Heloise/Vinegar, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001.
Keep your Christmas florals lasting longer: Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar and 3 tablespoons of sugar per quart of water.
Dear Readers: It’s that time of year again: If you had a live Christmas tree, it is no doubt shedding needles. Not to worry. Instead of giving your vacuum a workout, why not try a rubber broom? With its short, stiff “bristles,” the needles will pull out of the carpet quickly with short strokes toward you.
Dear Heloise: Manufacturers of liquid soap dispensers scored big when they introduced foaming soap. They give us a lot less soap and a lot more water for a similar price.
I fill my spent foaming dispensers about ⅔ to ¾ with water and top off with dish detergent. These can be reused for years, and a small amount of dish soap will go a long way — all the benefits of foaming soap at a tiny fraction of the cost. Additionally, there are all the plastic pump bottles that won't be sent to the landfill!
Kevin in Avon Park, Fla.
Dear Heloise: My husband "wears his food well." I learned a hint from my housekeeper: Before washing a stained item, sprinkle well with baby powder, then let sit several hours or overnight before washing with other clothes of the same color. Place in the dryer as usual. Works for me every time!
Judy H., The Villages, Fla.