Dear Readers: HURRICANE SANDY has affected so many lives! My readers probably are still cleaning up and dealing with the aftermath. Here is a short list of some must-have items to use (safely) to clean up after any major disaster, including flood, fire, water damage, etc. Please know I am here to help you! So, give these Heloise Hints a try, and I dearly hope they do help you.

Also, you can visit my Web site,, for more hints using products you can find at the grocery store that usually are inexpensive.

Chlorine bleach kills mold and mildew. Please be sure to read the label on the container. In this case, more or a stronger solution is NOT necessarily better. The right diluted solution (do not use full strength!) is your best option. Oxygen bleach, which is a form of hydrogen peroxide, also works well to kill germs.

Hydrogen peroxide is a super agent to kill bacteria, so stock up on a bottle or two.

Vinegar, my favorite product, can be used full strength to kill many types of germs. I always have a gallon or two on hand! Either apple-cider or white distilled vinegar will do the job of cleaning, deodorizing and freshening up. Put a cup of baking soda down a smelly drain, then pour in a cup or so of vinegar. Watch it bubble, and you can hear it working! Wait five to 10 minutes, then follow with about 30 seconds of hot water. No more stinky drain!!

If you have some hints to share, I’d love to collect them and print them here in my column so others can learn. -- Your friend, Heloise


Dear Heloise: I purchased several inexpensive, flannel-backed tablecloths to use as shelf liners. They are easy to cut to size, the flannel “grips” the dense particleboard of the shelf, and the plastic top is easy to wipe clean. They come in both solid colors and cheerful patterns. -- Laura Hunt, Lincoln, R.I.


Dear Heloise: Denture tablets remove coffee stains from stainless steel. Fill a thermos with hot water and drop in a few denture tablets (depending on the thermos size). Let sit overnight. The stains disappear. -- Julie in Houston

You also can use baking soda, which is one of my all-time favorite cleaners. Why? Because it is cheap, it’s usually on your pantry shelf, and it is Earth-friendly. You can save lots of money by using baking soda in a multitude of ways around your home. Don’t know how? Well, all you have to do is send $5 and a long, self-addressed, stamped (65 cents) envelope to: Heloise/Baking Soda, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Sprinkle some baking soda on a damp sponge and use it to “scrub” and clean your kitchen sink. It will be odor-free and sparkling, and the baking soda, when wet, won’t scratch a porcelain sink or bathtub. -- Heloise

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