Helpful Hints

Posted: August 14, 2014 at 1:52 a.m.

DEAR HELOISE: I saw the article about not using fabric softeners when washing bath towels. I have been using fabric softener for some time, and I have noticed the problem and wondered why (Heloise here: Jim is referring to towels not being absorbent when too much liquid softener is used, or when dryer sheets are used every time).

Would future washings without the softeners bring back the towels' original absorbency, or is there a specific step that must be taken to do so? Or is it too late?

-- Jim S. in Texas

DEAR READER: It's not too late. Just wash the bath towels alone, with nothing else, with 1 cup of ammonia (no detergent) and run through a second rinse cycle. Fabric softener is OK if not overused, especially on towels.

DEAR HELOISE: I have been lucky enough to receive floral arrangements several times a year from out-of-state relatives. I always take a quick picture and include it in the thank-you note that I write. It lets the sender see how beautiful the flowers are and if it's what he or she requested. Sometimes I have found that the delivered flowers differed from the order. For example: My son, who hates carnations, always asks florists to make sure there are none in the arrangement, but then if he sees them in the picture, he can let them know.

-- Mary D. in Tennessee

DEAR HELOISE: Growing up in a big family, we all were expected to pitch in and do our share of household chores, including making our beds.

Pillows can be unwieldy for a child's hands, so our mom taught us to peel off the pillowcases inside out. That makes it easier to put them back on the pillows as well. Simply insert your arms into the inside-out pillowcase, grab the pillow through the case and then flip it around to cover it in one shot. I'm an old grandma now, and I still use this quick-and-easy technique. It's great for those big, bulky body pillows, too.

-- Larisa R. in Florida

DEAR HELOISE: I use plastic baskets for my family's laundry. I hate to think of all the things that might still be on the basket from the dirty clothes when the clean clothes come out of the dryer.

I keep a container of sanitizing wipes and a clean, dry sponge by the washer. I just wrap the wipe around the sponge (this makes it easier to clean the part of the basket with holes) and give the basket a quick once-over.

-- Dan. H. in Texas

DEAR HELOISE: Ever try to use your hair spray only to find the hole stopped up? Can't find a pin to unclog it? Just run the nozzle under a hot-water tap for a couple of seconds, and it will spray like new.

-- Barbara in Maryland

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email

Weekend on 08/14/2014