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Hints From Heloise: Keeping reusable grocery bags free of germs

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Dear Heloise: Our town has stopped all plastic grocery bags. I am using reusable bags. I had to trash one. I guess meat leaked in it. The thought of bacteria frightened me. How do we keep these bags clean?

— Reader, via email

Reader: Reusable bags are an environmentally safe alternative, but according to the American Cleaning Institute (ACI), they need to be cleaned after each use to prevent bacteria and mold from cross-contaminating your food. Some cloth bags can be tossed in the washing machine. To clean bags that cannot be laundered, spray them with a disinfectant then wipe them down, making sure the seams are free from drips and stains. Dry thoroughly before storing in a cool, dry place, not in your car’s trunk, where it’s dark and warm.

Use separate bags for raw meats and seafood. Label them clearly for baggers to see at checkout. A good rule of thumb … when in doubt, wash your bags and throw out bags that are worn or very dirty.

Dear Heloise: During drought conditions we were instructed not to flush toilets after every use. Consequently, there is a lime line in the bowl that won't go away. What do you suggest using to remove the stain?

— J.P.P., Long Beach, Calif.

J.P.P.: Turn off the water valve to the toilet and drain the toilet by flushing until the water level is below the lime buildup. Next, make a thick paste of baking soda and white vinegar. Spread the paste onto the deposit and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. Using a stiff bristled brush, scrub the lime buildup. Turn the water back on and flush once or twice. If there is still some lime deposit left, you might need to use a commercial lime cleaner.

Dear Readers: Lately, many people are looking for a furry home office companion. I’d like to urge everyone to check out your animal shelters before you spend hundreds of dollars on a registered breed. There are many wonderful dogs and cats that are surrendered to animal shelters, some even have pedigrees. These homeless pets need forever homes with loving owners who’ll take care of them. Your local pet shelter is a great source for finding a loving, loyal and grateful companion.

Dear Heloise: I am 80 years old and use a child's toothbrush because the handle is thick and contoured, which makes it easier to use, and the bristles are soft enough on my sensitive gums so I brush longer. Try it; you'll like it!

— L., San Clemente, Calif.

Dear Heloise: I get a lot of comments at the grocery on this hint. I keep a clothes pin in my purse and clip my grocery list to the cart. I then mark off each item as I find it.

— Ann Neaves, Saltillo, Miss.

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at washingtonpost.com/advice. Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or email it to Heloise@Heloise.com.

2020, King Features Syndicate

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