Dear Heloise: Our son will be out of the country for a year, and we will be LOOKING AFTER HIS CONDO. How often should we run the water in the sinks and tub, and flush the toilets? Do we need to run the dishwasher/washing machine? Should we unplug the refrigerator? If so, how do we keep it from developing an odor? How should the furnace/air conditioner be set? Should it be turned off? Any suggestions would be appreciated. -- Kate in Salt Lake City

Kate, here are a few hints to help you. You should drop by the condo once a month or so. Turn on the water so it can run through the pipes, and flush the toilets. Prop open the door of the dishwasher (after running every few months) so air can circulate and mold can be kept at bay.

Completely empty, clean and unplug the refrigerator/freezer. Prop it open, or put bowls of activated charcoal inside.

Finally, have your son ask the property management what temperature is suggested for the furnace/AC for the most cost-effectiveness. -- Heloise


Dear Readers: Julia in Hudson, N.H., sent a picture of her two cats, Oreo and Pebbles, resting under a sign reading “Trespassers Will Be Eaten.” Doubtful, though, because the cats seem more interested in sleeping! To see these cats and our other Pet Pals, visit and click on “Pets.” -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: Every summer, I buy my two daughters new camp sneakers. I only buy brown, because they match the color of the dirt! You still have to wash them when they get especially dirty, but they never look as beat up as sneakers of other colors do. -- Suzanne in Staten Island, N.Y.


Dear Heloise: I do my own pedicures. When polishing my toenails, I sometimes would slip and get polish on the skin around the nails. Before applying polish, I carefully use a cotton swab to put a thin layer of petroleum jelly all around my nails, making sure none gets on the nail itself.

After the nail polish is dry, I wipe off the petroleum jelly, and it takes any polish mishaps with it. This results in a neater, more professional-looking pedicure. -- Nancy in Beavercreek, Ohio


Dear Heloise: I was having trouble keeping fitted sheets on the bed at the top — they hardly ever came off the bottom. Then it dawned on me: I was putting them on at the bottom first because it was easy. So I started putting them on the top of the bed first. Don’t ask me why, but it worked! -- Alice, via e-mail


Dear Heloise: Our black cat rubs against all the wall corners, turning them quite dirty. I’ve found that a wool sock, when dry-rubbed, completely removes the dirt. I use a heavy winter sock. -- Bill, via e-mail

Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE or e-mail it to Please include your city and state.

2012, King Features Syndicate