DEAR HELOISE: I hope you can help me. How do you remove a ballpoint pen mark from a colored shirt? I have tried several things but have not been successful. Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much. I read your column every day in the paper and appreciate all your excellent help. You have super suggestions.
-- Betty De Witz, via email
DEAR READER: Ink marks are a common problem. For dried stains, gently rub isopropyl alcohol until the stain comes out. But do not apply this to highly colored material.
For spot removing, sponge the area around the stain with a commercial dry-cleaning fluid. Then place the stain face down on several layers of clean paper towels. Apply the dry-cleaning fluid to the back of the stain. Rinse with water and launder as usual.
DEAR HELOISE: Love your column. Here's my hint: When my decorative liquid soap dispensers in my kitchen and bath need filling, I go to a dollar store and get a large container of body wash. (I look for one made in the USA.) Hey, hands are part of your body, right?
-- Shirley P., The Villages, Fla.
DEAR READER: That's a practical and good money-saving hint.
DEAR READERS: I get many letters about this common household problem. The refrigerator is one of the most used appliances in our homes. We go to it daily and keep it well stocked with our favorite foods. And we often shove containers to the back of the fridge when we put newer items inside. When it stinks or is crammed too full, it's time to clean it out.
Toss out old items. Always put leftovers in zip-top bags or sealed containers. And label them with dates. Wipe down shelves with soapy water to remove spills. And finally, wipe the walls with white vinegar. To control smells, pour baking soda into one or two plastic margarine tubs, poke holes in the lid and place inside the refrigerator. Replace every three months.
Baking soda is indispensable around the home. FYI: If the trunk of your car smells, sprinkle baking soda over the carpeting. Let remain on for several days and then vacuum.
DEAR HELOISE: I like to garden, but I always used to end up with dirt under my fingernails, even when I wore gloves. Now I scratch a bar of soap with my "digging fingers" before putting on my gloves. When I am finished with the gardening, one swish with a fingernail brush and my nails are clean.
-- Elaine Linhoff, Newport Beach, Calif.
DEAR READER: This is the best way to get rid of all that dirt, but continue to wear gloves. That will help cut down on the amount of dirt that gets under your nails.
DEAR HELOISE: During prolonged covid stay-at-home time, I feared my wife and I had developed hearing problems. Throughout the days, doing stuff around the house, we frequently asked each other to "say that again" in response to offhand comments. One morning I happened to say her name before speaking, which got her attention, and she heard me perfectly. Since then we have prefaced unexpected comments with each other's names, drawing attention. And it is absolutely amazing how our "hearing problems" disappeared. It wasn't hearing; it was attention.
-- Jim R. in Houston
Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email