Dear Heloise: I have used a dishwasher for many years and have always used the same powdered detergent. Recently, the dishes had a white film on them after being washed in my dishwasher. I contacted the water department -- no change there. I called the company that makes the detergent I’ve always used and was told it no longer uses phosphates in the powdered form. It suggested switching to the gel and making sure to use the hottest water. The gel works great. No more white film. -- J.B. in California

J.B., I can’t tell you how many people have been experiencing this. Some states have banned phosphates from being used in dishwasher detergent. We called a leading detergent manufacturer, which suggested using the condensed detergent packs instead of the regular gel or powder formula.

To remove the film on the glasses and dishes, place a bowl with 2 cups of vinegar on the bottom rack of the dishwasher and run it without detergent. Or heat up some vinegar until hot, but not boiling, and soak the glasses. If this does not work, then they may be permanently etched, and sorry, nothing will remove the etching.

Bonus vinegar hint: To kill unwanted grass in between sidewalks, spray or pour a bit of full-strength vinegar directly onto the grass. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: The letter from the reader about using gallon-size plastic bags for cereal storage was great!

But I didn’t like the idea of putting the label and nutritional info inside the bag, since the boxes of cereal can be sprayed with chemicals in the warehouses to prevent bug infestations.

I place cereal in plastic containers and then tape on the outside of the containers the label information. This is a recycling hint, as the plastic bag will be saved from the landfill, and you can use the plastic container over and over again. -- Gretchen Mertz, Fleetwood, Pa.


Dear Readers: It’s often cheaper to buy things in bulk, but what if you don’t use all of the product? Apples are a good example. Peel, core or slice the apples. Sprinkle some lemon juice on them to keep them from turning brown. Place the cut apples into a freezer container or plastic freezer zipper bags. You can measure them in specific amounts for baking. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: When you open a new box of brown sugar, put it into a glass jar. Add half a slice of bread and close the lid.

The brown sugar will stay soft for a very long time. Even if the bread dries out, it will still keep the brown sugar soft. -- D. Bergmeister in Pollock Pines, Calif.

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.

2011, King Features Syndicate