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DEAR HELOISE: I have an ormolu-encased clock that has been passed down to me. What is the best way to clean this type of item?

-- John A. in California

DEAR READER: Wow! You made me look up "ormolu" again, since it is not a common question that I get. Readers, do you know? Read the whole answer to find out if you're right.

John, your best bet is the safest method first. Just use a clean, soft brush or microfiber cloth to dust and remove fingerprints, etc. If it needs a little more, you can try using a clean cloth or cotton swab dipped in distilled water (so there is no chlorine or minerals in the water that may leave a residue or harm the finish) to gently rub the surface.

Of course, this is a family "heirloom," but you might want to check with an antiques specialist to see if it's valuable. You never know, and many folks have found out the hard way that it was worth a lot of money.

P.S.: Ormolu is a decorative, "fire-gilding" layering process done over brass.

DEAR HELOISE: I think it was from your column that I learned to keep the door of my front-load washing machine open so that it could dry between uses. What a difference this has made in odor control.

-- Debbie Y. in Illinois

DEAR READER: Many readers do not like their front loaders for this very reason. Be sure to wipe the door gasket and leave the washer door open until the inside dries. Some readers even leave a bowl of baking soda in the machine when it's not in use to cut down on odors.

DEAR HELOISE: I recently cleaned out all my closets. I took pictures of my shoes (which I keep in the original boxes) and taped them to the outside of the shoe box. Makes it a lot easier to grab the right pair of shoes in a hurry.

-- Emily W. in Nevada

DEAR HELOISE: I wanted to let you know a hint for cleaning lampshades: canned air! It works great on many things, including lampshades.

-- Trish A., via email

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 08/21/2014

Print Headline: Helpful Hints

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