Posted: January 4, 2014 at 1:54 a.m.

DEAR HELOISE: Did you know that a toothpick can be a helpful tool? Instead of using a knife or other sharp tool, use a toothpick to clean the area around the sink where it “meets” the countertop.

  • Lonnie B., Warren, Ohio

DEAR HELOISE: My family recycles glass, cans, bottles and jars. These items are rinsed before going into the recycle bin in the garage, but it still gets dirty and smelly. So, every week I scrub the bin with baking soda and hotwater to keep it fresh.

  • Liz P. in Kentucky

DEAR READER: Nice to hear that you are recycling. Yes, we rinse, but sometimes things get messy. Baking soda to the rescue, and it’s earth-friendly, too. Not only can you clean your recycle bin, but the garbage cans inside and outside your home as well.

DEAR HELOISE: To help my son learn his letters, I came up with a strategy that I think will help others. We focused on one letter a week. The first week, our letter was A. I made food into the shape of an A, I pointed out things that started with the letter, and we did crafts making the letter. At the very end of the week, we reviewed the letters we had already learned.

  • H.E. in San Antonio

DEAR HELOISE: I am used to traveling a long distance in a car to see family, so I know to take a pillow for my back. This last time, I cut two holes in the pillowcase and tied string through the holes to loop it over my headrest so the pillow stays in place. Now when I refuel on gas or stop for food, the pillow does not fall or get thrown about.

  • Marcia in Nebraska

DEAR HELOISE: After the Christmas tree comes down for the year, reuse your tinsel icicles as gift stuffing.

  • Carolyn M., Kentucky

DEAR HELOISE: Every day I would get frustrated when taking a shower because the shower curtain was not quite long enough to stay in the tub and keep water from getting out. Then I came up with this hint: I bought another set of shower-curtain hooks to add to the first set of hooks. I hooked one hook onto the one hanging off the rod, and essentially doubled the length. The shower curtain now hangs low enough, and the problem is solved!

  • C.W. in New York

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

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