Dear Heloise: Holiday school break is a good time to wash the little kiddies’ BACKPACKS. Make sure you shake out the crumbs, etc., and secure the loose parts before putting the backpack into the washing machine. Or give it a good bathtub soak. Bags will both look and smell better, as well as being a little less germy. -- Rebecca, via e-mail

Wow, pretty smart, because kids can “hide” all kinds of junk in there! Make sure the backpack is machine-washable; some are not. Even if washable, air-dry to finish. If not washable, vacuum out the bag with the upholstery attachment. Next, sponge the entire backpack clean with mild dish detergent and rinse with another sponge and water, then air-dry.

Between deep cleanings, do a backpack check at the end of the week. Throw out unnecessary papers you find, along with any food that may have been forgotten. -- Heloise

P.S.: Be sure to let your little darlings help you!


Dear Readers: Avalon Ingram of Grapeland, Tex., sent in a photo of her pup, Elvis, sharing an East Texas watermelon with her twin cows, Oleo and Buttermilk. What a sweet treat for the three of them. To see Elvis’s picture, go to my Web site,, and click on “Pets.” -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: Have I got a great idea to share with your doggie-loving readers: I have two pups, and between them, there are plenty of doggie deposits to be picked up. It always seemed that I would be out in the back yard and I’d have to run inside, find a bag and hope I remembered where they left their deposit.

Looking at a flowerpot holder standing empty in my back yard (the plant long since dead), I got an idea and bought some inexpensive poop-bag holders and hung them from the hook. Now I have several poop stands all over my back yard, and when I need a bag, they are only steps away. -- Denise Baker, Oak View, Calif.


Dear Heloise: We had an old umbrella stroller from when our grandkids were younger. Since the kids are too big for it now, my husband found a great way to reuse it instead of throwing it away. He took the fabric off (but you don’t have to) and placed one of the large, brown paper bags you use for leaves in it. Now when we collect leaves, we can fill the bag and use the stroller to move it around. No more heavy lifting. When the bag is full, we just wheel it to the curb and place a new bag in the stroller. So easy! -- A Reader, via e-mail


Dear Heloise: I keep a used/empty tissue box on my dryer and use it to hold lint. It makes disposing of the lint quick and easy. Empty tissue boxes also can be used to hold plastic grocery bags. -- A Reader, via e-mail

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, or e-mail it to

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