Dear Heloise: There is a question that I’ve wanted to ask for a long time concerning VINEGAR. I know the differences among white, cider and balsamic vinegar. But at my local grocery store, there are two kinds of white vinegar in plastic gallon jugs. One is 5 percent acidity, and the other is 9 percent.

I presume that 5 percent is for salads and cooking. I use the 9 percent for soaking dishes and to dissolve the hard-water deposits that collect when the dishes sit in the sink.

So, when should I use what percentage of vinegar? — Tess in Texas

Tess, a very good question indeed, and one that is easy to answer! There are two percentages of vinegar, 5 percent and 9 percent, available in Texas and some Southern states, but not in all parts of the country.

The 5 percent typically is the one people use with food. The 9 percent does a great job of cleaning (and pickling), but it also can cost more. However, the price is almost proportionate to the strength. Yes, you can dilute the 9 percent with 1 / 2 water to get about 4.5 percent, which is pretty close to 5 percent. Vinegar is cheaper and more eco-friendly than chemical cleaning products! This is why I love vinegar! There are many more hints and uses in my vinegar pamphlet. To receive one, send $5, along with a long, self-addressed, stamped (65 cents) envelope, to: Heloise/Vinegar, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. To help keep car windows frost- and ice-free when the vehicle sits outside, coat all the windows with a solution of 3 parts white or cider vinegar mixed with 1 part water. — Heloise


Dear Readers: Do you have a spray bottle of perfume or cologne that still has perfume in it, yet it won’t spray? Sometimes, by tilting the bottle, you can get the stem into enough of the liquid that it will still spray. When this no longer works, I use a pair of pliers or vice grips and remove the sprayer. This may take some time and effort, but you will be able to get the nozzle and stem removed — good to the last drop! — Heloise


Dear Heloise: I had several baby showers while I was pregnant. My husband felt a little left out. He wanted to have a get-together with all his friends. Since they are mostly men, we decided to have a barbecue. We provided the food and drinks, but the fee to get into the party was a box of diapers. Everyone had a great time, and we stocked up on diapers. We went the entire first year of my son’s life without having to buy diapers. — Jackie in Texas


Dear Heloise: When I don’t have time to thoroughly clean my faucet handles, I take a facial tissue and shine them up. This makes chrome or stainless-steel fixtures shine like new. — Kathy in North Carolina

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