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Hints From Heloise: Does detergent kill germs?

Dear Heloise: After a bout of sickness at our home, I cleaned the house well, but when it was time to start the laundry, a question came to mind: Does regular washing-machine detergent KILL GERMS? -- Q.K., via e-mail

Your question got Heloise Central wondering about this. You might be surprised when you read the information!

If you are not using hot water (140-150 degrees F) or chlorine bleach, or a pine-oil disinfectant, you probably are NOT killing the bacteria. When you use hot water plus chlorine or color-safe bleach and the dryer, this will kill most germs. If your wash load includes colors or items that chlorine bleach can’t be used on, use color-safe bleach or pine-oil disinfectant.

And believe it or not, homemakers who hung their clothes out to dry in the sunshine were actually killing bacteria. That’s right, sun rays kill germs! Unfortunately, it isn’t possible for many of us to hang clothing outside.

So, to keep your washing machine as clean as possible, clean it once in a while, and always after someone has been sick in your home. Use chlorine bleach and water only (no clothing). Current washing models may have a cleaning cycle on them. -- Heloise


Dear Readers: Diane Heller of Van Wert, Ohio, sent a photo of her part-Siamese cat, Tuffy, lying down on the couch. Diane says: “We found this photo the other day and noticed the “bunny” in the rear part of his body. He came from a litter of eight. When he was first born, he slept in my husband’s shoe — he was that little.” To see Tuffy and his “bunny,” visit and click on “Pets.” -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: When creating a cellphone contact, I put the association first, then name, date and other details as necessary. When a service call is made, I tape the person’s business card to the appliance. -- Joe Carnell, Enid, Okla.


Dear Heloise: To keep my exercise ball (very large, inflatable) from rolling around when not in use, I bought a smooth wood wreath large enough to use as a base, and set the ball onto it. -- Holly Griffith, Sugar Land, Tex.


Dear Heloise: I have read suggestions in your column of help for people who have difficulty swallowing pills. My method is simple:

I keep a jug of water in the refrigerator. When I need to take pills, I pour out a glass of cold water, drink it, and the coldness numbs my throat enough to swallow the pills without trouble. This may not work for everyone, but it works very well for me. -- Shirley Richardson, San Angelo, Tex.

It’s certainly worth a try for young or old. Also, a little applesauce or other “slippery” food helps, too! -- Heloise

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

, King Features Syndicate



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