Dear Heloise: Homework on the weekend? My son used to complain, but we've come up with some hints that have helped us all through the week:

  • I check my student's homework every day -- not to nag, but to see what he's learning.
  • A big research paper can be broken down into smaller sections. I talk with my kiddo if he's anxious about writing a paper. Stress can be lessened!
  • A schedule is critical. My child needs 30 minutes when he comes home to relax, and then he works on homework until dinnertime. Your kids may perform differently.
  • It's fine if my child doesn't complete everything perfectly. Mistakes are allowed -- a lot of times, that's how you grow. This will let the teacher know what areas he needs help with.

Thanks for your column! -- Ann D. in Ohio

Tackling the tub

Dear Heloise: I tried to clean my shower/tub. Nothing worked -- except you know what! I put some baking soda in the tub with vinegar for the tough spots, and oh, what a clean and shiny place now to take a bath! -- Great Grandmother, Texarkana, Texas

P.S. I also now keep a spray bottle of white vinegar for spraying into the water that collects under potted plants and in puddles! Kills mosquito larvae, as you know.

G.G., great! You've mastered cleaning cheaply. Readers, I've collected my favorite cleaning solutions and recipes that include vinegar into a handy pamphlet. If you'd like to receive one, visit to order, or send $5, along with a stamped (70 cents), self-addressed, business-size envelope, to: Heloise/Vinegar, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio TX 78279-5001. Label all bottles of homemade cleaners clearly. -- Heloise

Lotion storage

Dear Heloise: I like to have a supply of certain items on hand, like bathroom tissue and paper towels, but some things are just not smart to stockpile: perfumes and scented lotions, mainly.

These can degrade over time, and if I can't use them right away, there's no "scents" in hoarding them -- plus they take up valuable shelf space. -- Kim H. in Chicago

Towel bar

Dear Heloise: My sister-in-law installed towel bars in each of her guest bedrooms. Behind the door usually is a convenient place.

The bars encourage her guests to reuse their towels (save some water!), and they keep the bathroom a lot tidier. Now I am installing them in my guest rooms! -- Pat H., via email

Plane footwear

Dear Heloise: Please tell your readers to forget about wearing flip-flops or extremely high heels on an airplane. If you had to run away from a burning plane or a minor crash site, they are more likely to trip you than help you get away. -- Joanna D., via email

Marker in dryer

Dear Heloise: My husband did a load of laundry and somehow left a permanent marker in his pocket. It soiled the drum in the dryer, and I'm worried that this will discolor other articles I place inside. How do I remove the marker streaks from inside my dryer? -- LeeAnne P., Cross Plains, Tennessee

LeeAnne, here are a couple of suggestions that might help:

1. Mix 1 part bleach with 2 parts water (use gloves for this). Soak some old towels in the bleach/water solution. Wring out the towels until they are not dripping anymore, then put them in the dryer. Run a complete drying cycle. Repeat until the stain is gone. Wipe down the inside with soap and water after you're done to remove any bleach residue.

2. Try nail polish remover. Soak a small part of a rag or sponge in acetone and, working in small circles, rub the marks with the acetone. Do not get any on plastic parts, and work in a well-ventilated area and never near a flame!

Removing stains can be a daunting task, but it can be made easier with my pamphlet Handy Stain Guide for Clothing. Go to my website, www. to order, or send $5, along with a long, stamped (70 cents), self-addressed envelope, to: Heloise/Stain, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio TX 78279-5001. You'll find all sorts of helpful suggestions and tips to make doing laundry easier and help you maintain your clothing in better shape. -- Heloise

Houseguest pest

Dear Heloise: I have an issue with my husband's sister. She always drops by unannounced, usually at dinnertime. I've asked her to call first, as we both have cellphones, but she ignores me. If she drops by and my hubby is outside, I let him deal with her. She lives five blocks away and has never invited us to her house. How should I handle this? -- Mary T., via email

Mary, you didn't mention why she's not welcome, but here are a couple of ideas:

  • Have your husband sit down with her and explain the rules of your home. Perhaps he can persuade her to respect your wishes.
  • She must enjoy your company, which actually is a compliment. However, if she continues to disrespect your rules and privacy, give her times and dates when she is allowed to stop over, such as 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays or noon to 2 p.m. on Sundays.
  • If all else fails, you could start acting as she does and just drop in on her whenever you feel like it. -- Heloise

Working from home

Dear Heloise: What do I say to people who ask when I'm going to get a real job instead of working from home? I have a 4-year-old child and a 6-month-old infant, and I feel fortunate to be able to work as an illustrator for children's books from my home. -- Linda T., Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania

Linda, tell them that you feel very fortunate to be able to spend time with your children while working at a job you love. -- Heloise

Towel trouble

Dear Heloise: I hate the "new" washing machines. I like water to fill the tub. My towels have an odor like mildew.

I hope you can help me. I'm glad you picked up where your mom left off. -- Dana W., Memphis, Tennessee

Hi, Dana. Yes, I can help you. Here are some hints:

  • Don't overload the washer.
  • Layer towels evenly in the washer.
  • Fabric softener is not good for towels -- it can impede absorption.
  • Using the hottest washer setting, add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of baking soda with a small amount of detergent in the washer. Launder as usual, and dry. This should help eliminate the sour smell.

Did you know that baking soda is a workhorse around the house? It's great for cooking, cleaning and beauty -- a multitude of uses for only pennies per use!

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I've compiled my favorite baking soda hints and recipes in a handy pamphlet -- would you like to receive one? It's easy! Visit and click on the upper right corner of the home page to order, or send a long, stamped, self-addressed envelope, along with $5, to: Heloise/Baking Soda, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio TX 78279-5001. Make a paste of baking soda, warm water and soap to scrub hands with. -- Heloise

Exchange club

Dear Heloise: I think you might like this and pass it on. I live in a retirement community. Every other year, our card club has a home decor exchange and luncheon.

The ladies bring their items to my house, and I stage them, then we shop. The items left over, we donate. The following year we do fashion items, which includes clothing, shoes, jewelry and more.

What a great way to reduce, reuse, repurpose and recycle! -- Georgia C., via fax

Auto incorrect?

Dear Heloise: I'm so accustomed to my cellphone offering "autocorrect" that I wish my PC would do the same! True, I have spellcheck, but that autocorrect is faster! -- Jimmy Y. in St. Louis

Belt bags

Dear Heloise: I keep an old leather belt in the trunk to loop through handles of shopping bags to carry more of them more easily! -- Jenna B. in Arizona

Removing fingerprints

Dear Heloise: I use the last slice of white bread on my walls. I mash it into a ball, then sort of mush it into a smudge or fingerprint to remove it. -- Dannie T., Dayton, Ohio

Head to the mall?

Dear Heloise: I'm wondering how your readers feel about shopping malls? When I was a kid, I loved spending time at the mall with my friends; some malls had carousels, ice-skating rinks and movie theaters, and they all had wonderful food courts with delicious choices of eats. But now so many malls are going out of business.

In San Antonio, we still have malls that are doing well, but off-price stores and shopping online are gaining in popularity.

Will your readers always go to the mall? Do you like the energy there? The service? The people? It was convenient to have all the big stores under one roof, and years ago, I used to walk in the mall for exercise. That was fun.

The salespeople in the kiosks outside of the stores can be pretty pushy, but I've learned to just say, "No, thank you."

Is the shopping mall becoming a thing of the past? Hopefully not! -- Jana B., Helotes, Texas

Readers, what do you say about the shopping mall? I've done many book signings in many malls over the years -- a great place to come together! -- Heloise

Send a great hint to: Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio TX 78279-5000; fax: 1-210-HELOISE; email: