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Helpful Hints

By Heloise

This article was published May 20, 2014 at 2:14 a.m.

DEAR HELOISE: I have found many uses for the white plastic jugs that contain cat litter. I use them for storage and sorting. After emptying a jug, I do the following:

  1. With a box knife or other sharp-pointed knife, I start a cut along the top. Usually there's a small raised rim. It's best to start the cut just above that.

  2. With sturdy scissors, I cut all the way around. If I want the full depth, this is all the cutting needed. If I want a shallower container, it's best to start with this cut, because then the container will be easier to handle for further cuts.

  3. I wash out the container with soap and hot water. It's now completely fit for storage and other uses.

I use them in the freezer, refrigerator, in my workshop and for gardening supplies.

-- Karen B. in Pennsylvania

DEAR HELOISE: I found an easy way to get rid of bank statements and credit-card bills if you don't have a paper shredder or are unable to sit and shred up all the paper. Fill a bucket with warm water, put in all the paper statements you want to throw away and leave it in the bucket for about an hour.

Put your hands in the bucket and tear up the paper. When the paper has soaked for a while, there is nothing left for anyone to try to put together to steal your personal information.

-- A Reader in Tennessee

DEAR HELOISE: My husband had a great idea for keeping paperback cookbooks open while cooking. He clips a large, plastic bag clip on the outside of the page (or both pages, if needed). The book stays open without breaking the spine of the book. It also doesn't damage the pages of the book.

-- Julie H. in Kansas

DEAR HELOISE: To save water and dish soap for that one item that does not fit or just was not placed in the dishwasher, I use a small spray bottle that has dish soap and just enough water to make it spray. One quick spray, a good swish with my dish brush and my item is clean.

I also have a different-colored bottle that I put the same solution in, but I add a little nonsudsy ammonia. This spray makes a quick cleanup for grease splatters on the stove.

-- Heather R. in Ohio

DEAR HELOISE: Save flip tops from toothpaste and refit them onto toothpaste tubes that don't come with them.

-- Hedy A. in Texas

DEAR HELOISE: To protect the hitch on the back of my truck, I cut slits in a tennis ball and covered it. The tennis ball protects the hitch from being scratched and keeps it from scratching other things.

-- Jared B. in Kentucky

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

Style on 05/20/2014

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