Dear Heloise: I love my GRANITE COUNTERTOPS. However, I don’t know how to clean/disinfect them without using chemical-based commercial cleaners. I use vinegar to clean/disinfect the sink, stove and other appliances. Can I use vinegar on granite, or is there another natural product I can use? -- Lois McNamara, Cedar Grove, N.J.

This is an often-asked question, and it may be a hard one (pun intended) to answer. There is much conflicting information about how to clean and “sanitize” granite countertops. So, it is best to check with the manufacturer or the installer of your granite to see what is suggested.

The most important thing to remember when you start thinking about cleaning or disinfecting granite is that many cleaners might damage granite. Don’t use abrasive cleaners or anything with a high acid content (like grout, tile, toilet, etc.).

Also, when you spill something, wipe it up as soon as possible to keep it from staining. You usually are safe with a drop or two of mild dish soap on a damp sponge. Wipe the surface, rinse with water and wipe dry. -- Heloise


Dear Readers: Miriam Brown of Benton, Maine, sent a photo of her large black cat sitting up and begging for his food. To see the cat, visit and click on “Pets.” -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I broke a bone in my foot, causing me to have to wear “the boot.” I’m an outside person, and it has been awful trying to keep the boot clean so I can wear it in the house.

To make it “waterproof,” my husband and I took a dog-food bag, cut off the top, and I put my foot/boot inside. He folded the bag around the boot, took the leftover top part and doubled the bottom of the boot before wrapping it with duct tape.

FYI: A regular plastic bag won’t work, as it tears because the boot is so hard. -- Kathy Erwin, Cooper, Tex.

As one who has worn “the boot” for a broken toe (for several weeks), I know what you mean! A health note from me about wearing a “walking cast,” aka the boot: Be SURE that the heel on the other foot is the same height as the one on the boot! If not, you are walking like Popeye, and it can permanently affect your gait! -- Heloise

P.S.: Ask your physician about this!


Dear Heloise: To avoid waste and practice good nutrition, I use a large-mesh sieve to remove the “fines” from cereal; they become my breading for salmon croquettes, chicken, etc. Sometimes I mix it with a bit of cornmeal or flour, depending on what I’m frying. It’s important that the cereal not have much, if any, sugar or sugar substitutes! -- A Reader, via e-mail

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.

, King Features Syndicate