Dear Heloise: We in California store water in the event of a major earthquake. My question is, How long can one STORE WATER before it becomes unpalatable? -- Frank P., via e-mail

Well, Frank, the general rule is to keep tap water stored for six months, and prepackaged, bottled water for up to a year. The water does not really “go bad,” but it’s better to be safe. Rotate stored water regularly. You want to have enough water to equal 1 gallon per person or pet per day. It is important to store it in proper, food-grade water-storage containers, especially if it is your tap water.

Store water away from the sun or heat sources in a cool, dark place -- NOT the garage! DON’T store near gasoline, kerosene or other chemicals. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I was getting so frustrated with my garden hose and how kinked it was that I was considering throwing it out. However, while doing some yardwork, I was using the hose off and on. When not in use, the hose was sitting in the sun, filled with water, until I needed it. Imagine my surprise when I discovered my hose was much straighter. Apparently, the heat of the sun on the hose was all that was needed to get the kinks out! I thought others could use this hint. -- Sally D. in Florida


Dear Heloise: When I was shopping for vinegar, there was a gallon called “cleaning vinegar.” It was with the regular vinegar. I was hesitant to buy it because I use vinegar for cooking and cleaning.

What can you tell me about this “cleaning vinegar”? Is it safe to buy and cook with? -- Bernie L. in Connecticut

Cleaning vinegar is not really that new. Regular white vinegar is 5 percent acetic acid, where some of the “cleaning vinegars” are 6 percent acetic acid. So, you are paying for only 1 percent more acidity of the vinegar. What I would do is buy one of each and compare them to see if it’s worth paying a little more.

It is safe to cook with, but remember, it’s a little stronger. You know I love vinegar, and that’s why I wrote my Heloise’s Fantabulous Vinegar Hints and More pamphlet to share the many money-saving uses. To order one, please send $5 and a long, self-addressed, stamped (70 cents) envelope to: Heloise/Vinegar, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Boiling potatoes? Add a teaspoon of vinegar to the water to keep them white. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: After my mascara is gone, I keep the wand to separate my eyelashes and groom my eyebrows. I just clean it with soap and water. -- Sophie D., via e-mail


Dear Heloise: I received a bouquet of flowers, and some of the flowers had clear straws around the stems to hold them up. I now do this with my own flowers. -- Jane W. 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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