Dear Heloise: My sister-in-law was BEDRIDDEN, and my brother-in-law had just retired and had lots to do around the house. Every time he would go outside, she would call him. Sometimes he couldn’t hear her, so he couldn’t go out to the garage.

We bought them a battery-powered doorbell and had him put the doorbell ringer on her headboard. One bell was in the back family room, and the other in the garage. When she needed him, she just pushed the doorbell ringer, and he could come running. It was such a blessing to both of them. -- Marianne D. in Kansas

This is a good hint for anyone who is a nurse to someone who’s sick at home. With cold and flu season coming up, I’d say it’s time to buy a cheap doorbell! -- Heloise

VINEGAR SPRAY

Dear Heloise: I love cleaning with vinegar, and I keep a spray bottle of one-third white vinegar and two-thirds water by my kitchen sink for cleaning raw vegetables. I even spray it on the outside of melons before slicing them. -- Cathie in Amarillo, Tex.

Cathie, vinegar is a good cleaner for many things. However, the Food and Drug Administration states that running water and a good rubbing are all that’s required for cleaning fruits and vegetables. Your spray will kill some bacteria, but be sure to rinse all items well before serving. Vinegar is a must in every kitchen, which is why I wrote my pamphlet Heloise’s Fantabulous Vinegar Hints and More! To receive a copy, send $5 and a long, self-addressed, stamped (66 cents) envelope to: Heloise/Vinegar, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Vegetables wilted? Place them in the refrigerator in a mixture of 1 quart of cold water and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar. -- Heloise

PRETTY POTTED PLANTS

Dear Heloise: I lose plant markers or they blow away. I can’t always tell the difference between the herbs just by looking. My daughter thought it’d be cute for all the pots to be the same, so we painted them with black chalkboard paint. We then used chalk to label each pot with the plant name and other important information. Luckily, you can’t lose the marker if it IS the pot! -- Caroline D. in Iowa

EASY FIX

Dear Heloise: I have French doors that separate my den from the rest of the house. The other day, I tried to close the doors to keep the dogs in the den for a while, but the doors wouldn’t stay completely closed.

I grabbed a rubber band and wrapped it around both doorknobs. This kept the doors closed tightly enough that the dogs were contained. -- K.E. in Mississippi

Glad it worked for you. Some dogs and many cats can figure out how to open and close doors, so keep an eye on them. -- Heloise

RUBBER PLACE MAT

Dear Heloise: Rubber shelf lining makes great place mats when cut into pieces. The jazzy designs give a splash to entertaining without much cost. They wash nicely, too! -- Bonnie M. in Indiana

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

, King Features Syndicate