Dear Heloise: Do you have any hints to keep my DISHWASHER running as efficiently as possible? -- Sally B. in North Dakota

I sure do! Dishwashers are such a convenience, and can keep you from spending time in the kitchen when there are so many other things to enjoy!

Scrape off big chunks of food from plates (but don’t WASH the dishes). Don’t pack the dishwasher or overload it with things like pots and pans. There needs to be space for water to do its job and get the dishes clean. Run the garbage disposal BEFORE you run the dishwasher, since most use the same plumbing.

Do use the correct detergent for your dishwasher. Check if the detergent contains a rinse agent. If not, you may want to add one.

Finally, check the seals around the dishwasher for cracks or leaks, and clean under the trap in the bottom from time to time. You may be shocked at what you find! -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: Just wanted to point out something I noticed the other day. I use boxed ingredients to make cakes and muffins. They are a staple in my pantry. However, something caught my eye when I was throwing away a cake box. I had never noticed the coupons inside. Look closely at what you buy, because I would not have noticed the free coupon. -- Kristin J. in Boston


Dear Heloise: What is the best way to clean a feather duster? I feel like I am just transferring the dust from one spot to another. Help! -- Ashley in Texas

Cleaning a feather duster is easy and will help you get rid of the feeling that you are just pushing the dust around! Get a large plastic or paper bag (one big enough for the whole feather duster to fit in). Place the feather duster inside, and then dump in a whole box of cornstarch. Secure or hold the bag closed tightly and shake it hard for about 30 seconds. To avoid making a mess inside the house, do this outside. Once you are done shaking, remove the feather duster from the bag and shake it until all of the cornstarch has been removed. Clean your duster periodically, as often as you think is needed. Happy cleaning! -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: When my husband and I got married and moved into a house, he brought a lot of hangers wrapped in yarn with him. Curious, I asked why. He said that a family member had made them so that clothes wouldn’t slip off the hanger. Such a simple solution for a frustrating problem! -- A Reader, via e-mail


Dear Heloise: When my son was young, we had a mishap in the tub, and he hit his head on the faucet. To help prevent this from happening again, I wrap the faucet in washcloths. It gives it a little extra protection for no money! -- Hailey in Illinois

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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