Dear Heloise: Whenever I open the door of my microwave, unpleasant odors from previous meals come out. I have tried leaving the door open for a while to air out the inside of the microwave, but I am afraid I will burn out the light inside. What do you suggest I do? Thank you.

— Beth, via email

Beth: Try the fast way to get rid of odor from the microwave. Put 2 tablespoons of baking soda and 1 cup of water in a large microwave-safe bowl. Turn the microwave on high and leave on for about 2 to 3 minutes, or until the water boils and steams up the microwave. This will soften any spills and make them easier to wipe up.

Caution: The steam from the microwave will be hot, so protect your hands and face when opening the door.

To prevent this problem, try to wipe up any spills right after they happen, so there will not be a buildup of gunk or odors.

Baking soda is indispensable around your home and saves you money. For more helpful hints about baking soda, order my six-page Heloise’s Baking Soda Hints and Recipes pamphlet by sending $5 and a long, self-addressed, stamped (75 cents) envelope to: Heloise/Baking Soda, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. FYI: For a refreshing bath, just add ½ cup of baking soda to a bathtub filled with warm water and relax!

Dear Heloise: I buy cooking oil at a big-box store, but the larger container is hard to handle. I went out to eat and saw a cook use a small squeeze bottle of oil to cook with, so I used a small bottle (water/syrup bottle with a pop-top cap) to hold my own cooking oil. It works great.

— Wayne Hodges, Redondo Beach, Calif.

Wayne Hodges: Having a good grip on a cooking bottle is key to preventing spilling.

Dear Readers: Moths can do such damage to our clothing — even when it’s stored. Here are some suggestions from the Dry Cleaning & Laundry Institute International. Take these steps to protect your clothes.

Before you store your clothes, have them professionally cleaned and treated with a mothproofing solution. If you wash them at home, tumble dry at temperatures above 120 degrees (if appropriate for the fabric) to kill larvae. And you can use cedar, lavender or eucalyptus products to keep moths away. These are repellents, but they don’t kill moths.

Check the storage area often and keep it clean. Vacuum the floors and clean the walls and baseboards in storage closets.

Dear Heloise: I love your column and have been reading it for years. I have a quick, easy method to clean a waffle iron. Mine is a round, single-serve iron, but this method could be used for any size.

I dampen a large, clean towel in hot water, wring the excess water out of it and place it in the waffle iron with the edges hanging over. I then close the lid and plug in the waffle iron until the light goes off. This creates steam in the iron, allowing the oil and crumbs to soak into the towel. Then I unplug it, let cool and wipe clean. Any oil and/or crumbs stuck in the crevices can be cleaned with cotton swabs.

— Becky K. Braswell, Billings, Mont.

Dear Heloise: Here's my helpful tip: No matter how many times I make the recipe for hummingbird water, I cannot remember it without getting out the recipe card each time. Finally, I decided to just write the recipe directly onto the sugar bag with a marker. Voilà! No more reaching each time for the recipe. Here's the recipe: ¼ cup sugar to 1 cup of water. Heat on the stove, stirring the mixture until the sugar is dissolved. Cool completely before adding to feeders.

— Margaret Lickteig, San Antonio

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

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