Dear Heloise: I came across a BOXOF OLD BOOKS that I would like to keep, but they have a musty smell. Is there any way to remove it? -- A Reader in Texas

This is a common question, and being a collector of old books, it is a problem I’ve often encountered. Many times the musty smell is just from age. Take some baking soda (not for antique or rare books) or cornstarch and sprinkle between the pages. When done, slip the book into a plastic bag (large zipper bag) and place in a cool, dry place. Let sit for about a week or so. When the week is up, brush out the powder. Repeat, if necessary. CAUTION: Never place baking soda on damp books.

Once the musty smell is gone, store your books carefully. If they are older, heavy or extra-large books, they should be stored flat on their side. Storing them upright can damage the pages and crack the spines. -- Heloise


Dear Readers: Abby in Texas sent a picture of her 10-year-old, black-and-white cat, Neo, watching over her school supplies. Abby says that during the school year, Neo helps her pack for school every day. To see Neo and our other Pet Pals, go to and click on “Pets.”

Do you have a pet you would like to see as the weekly Pet Pal? Send a picture to Heloise at P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: As time goes on, skin can get thinner, and unfortunately, we have to wear more and more bandages (with blood tests, etc.). The tape can be really hard to peel off.

A good way is to hit the tape with your hair dryer for a quick minute, as this will melt the adhesive, and the tape will come off without taking your skin with it. -- David McNair, Jackson, Miss.

A good hint to use along with that is baby, olive or even vegetable oil to help remove the bandage and residue. Here’s how: Simply soak a cotton ball in one of the oils and apply to the bandage, allowing it to soak the area. Let it sit for a few minutes, then gently try to remove the bandage. If it doesn’t come off right away, apply a little more oil and try again.

There are adhesive removers available. Compare brands, because there seems to be quite a price difference. When you have blood drawn, etc., ask the health-care provider what he or she recommends. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I just had a loved one pass away, and I received many cards with money in them. One thing that I had never heard of before was that several cards had a book of stamps for the thank-you cards. I thought this was a great idea. Next time, instead of money or flowers, I will send a book of stamps. -- Rae in Omaha

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.

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