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This article was published March 13, 2014 at 2:41 a.m.

DEAR READER: Many people use humidifiers regularly because of allergies or illness, but did you know that they also can make you sick if you do not keep them clean? Here are some hints from the Environmental Protection Agency on keeping your humidifier clean and working well:

Clean the humidifier according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Unplug the unit, and do not use cleaning agents unless they’re specified safe by the manufacturer.

Do not use tap water in the humidifier. According to the EPA, use only distilled water or water with a low mineral content to prevent scale buildup and release of minerals into the air. (It’s your call!)

Every day, empty and refill the water with fresh water. If you see film floating on top of the water, throw out the water and clean the humidifier.

Before storing the humidifier, empty all water and clean. When ready to use the humidifier again, clean it to get rid of any dust or dirt that settled while in storage.

DEAR HELOISE: The small, thin, flat, semisquare plastic tabs that close the ends of bread and bakery-goods bags are great to use to keep the end of tape easy to start again. The tab sticks to the tape and is easy to find. The tape never sticks permanently to the tab and is easy to pop off and then put back after you’ve used the tape. No more roll rotating to try to find the almost-invisible seam.

  • G.B. in California

DEAR HELOISE: I have been frustrated by old masking tape that is hard to unroll and tears. Give that old roll 20 seconds in the microwave. The tape comes out warm, and it unrolls smoothly.

  • Tom in New Jersey

DEAR READER: This may work for you, but if the tape is that old, toss it.

DEAR HELOISE: I’m hearing-impaired. I have trouble hearing my washer and dryer if I’m not in the same room. I use a baby monitor and keep the receiver with me.

  • Conchita B., Mount Airy, N.C.

DEAR HELOISE: To keep your scarves neat and hidden, hang them on a mounted key holder in your closet or behind your bedroom door. Key holders can be found at many stores.

  • J.H., Salem, Ore.

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, Pages 38 on 03/13/2014

Print Headline: HELPFUL HINTS


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