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Helpful Hints

By Heloise

This article was published August 18, 2014 at 2:18 a.m.

DEAR READERS: Here is this week's Sound Off, about public restrooms:

"As the graphic artist at your hometown newspaper, I get to read your column before anyone else in town. Here's a suggestion for your Monday Sound Off column: Why are public toilet stalls so narrow? Why do the merchants insist on putting the dispensing part of the toilet-paper dispenser below your knees, usually with a serrated edge? And why can't the auto-flush wait until the stall door opens to flush?

-- Henry in San Antonio

Henry, nice to hear from you, and gee, you get to read the column first! This is a "hot" topic! Many public restrooms are not user-friendly, but they do serve a purpose, and they are free. Who knows why the TP holder is usually situated so low? If someone can tell me why, I'd love to hear and pass along the reason.

DEAR READERS: Household items that can be recycled into planters:

• Chipped or broken mugs and bowls.

• Old ice chests that leak.

• A broken wheelbarrow.

• Old tires spray-painted green.

• Metal cans, cleaned and painted.

DEAR HELOISE: While out the other night, my kids spilled some soda on themselves. How can I remove the stain?

-- Mom in Massachusetts

DEAR READER: These things do happen! Since the clothes are washable, when you get home (next time!), dab with white household vinegar, then rinse. Repeat if necessary. If the stain still shows, use liquid laundry detergent and rub it into the area, then wash as usual. When out, rinse with cool water as soon as possible to help keep it from setting. Stains can be tough to get out. Got a fruit-juice stain? Rinse in cold water immediately. If you still have a stain, rub liquid laundry detergent into the area, let sit a few minutes and wash in warm water.

DEAR HELOISE: We have lots of cottonwood trees, and the cotton gets stuck in the air-conditioner condenser unit. It can block airflow and cause the AC to stop cooling. We put mosquito netting around the unit, using clothespins. It's easy to hose down when the cotton collects on the outside.

-- Pam S., Omaha, Neb.

DEAR READER: Great hint! Just be sure that the netting does not get clogged up -- you don't want to burn out the AC motor! You also can use "shade cloth," which has bigger holes for air movement.

DEAR HELOISE: I hate the splatter when using my handheld electric mixer. Before mixing, I punch two holes in a paper plate and slide the beaters through. I attach it to the mixer, and it keeps the mess inside.

-- N.M. in Texas

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

ActiveStyle on 08/18/2014

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