DEAR READERS: Most folks want to keep their cars looking nice, but it can get a little pricey to take to the car to the car wash all the time. Here are some Heloise hints to help take care of your car at home and save some big bucks over the long run:• Many people use household products (mild dish soap or even hair shampoo) to wash the car at some point. Some of these can be harmful to the paint and finish. The wrong product can dull the finish. Be sure to use products specifically designed for washing cars, and rinse well.
• Don’t use abrasive cleaners on plastic or painted parts of your car.
• Don’t wash or wax your car in direct sunlight. Try to wait until the evening or early morning, when the sun is not beating directly down.
• Don’t let bird droppings, insects, gasoline or tree sap sit on the finish long. Wash them off as soon as possible to avoid damage to the paint.
• Dry using a chamois, microfiber towel or a soft terry towel.
DEAR HELOISE: Reading your column with travel tips, I thought I’d share one. I carry an empty travel-size spray bottle and fill it with water when I get to my hotel room. Each night I check the following day’s clothing, and if it needs a little freshening, I spritz it down on a hanger and pull it from the edge to release wrinkles. It works great and is dry by morning.
– Mary D., Yorba Linda.
DEAR HELOISE: We buy the inexpensive plastic containers of moistened wipes and put them in the pocket of our car door. We use them to wipe our hands after pumping gas, picking berries, etc. When used up, we pop the top off and use the container as a garbage can. They are easy to empty at the service station, and it is much simpler to drop something in them than try to open a little plastic bag.
DEAR HELOISE: I recently moved into a condo that has a sliding glass door. I was looking for a little more security without having to spend a ton of money. I went to a home-improvement store and had a large, wooden dowel cut to fit the track. Now I just slip it in, and I don’t have to worry about anyone being able to open the door.
– Jessica, via email
DEAR HELOISE: The bottom of my toilet-brush holder always had a little bit of water in it. I tried placing paper towels in the bottom, but I was having to replace them every time I used the brush. I finally found something that worked. I placed a dry sponge in the bottom. It soaks up all the moisture, and I don’t have to replace it that often.
G.F. in Wisconsin
DEAR HELOISE: When I moved into a smaller place, it was hard to arrange my large furniture without covering up electrical outlets. I purchased heavy-duty extension cords with the multiplug end, plugged them in and snaked them around the furniture so I have a convenient plug.
– Deborah F., via email
DEAR DEBORAH: Also, remember to not run an extension cord under a rug or the carpet – it can be a fire hazard.
Be sure it’s a heavy-duty extension cord, and you may want to check it occasionally to be sure it’s in good condition. Please note this advice for a home office, too!
DEAR HELOISE: Here’s an idea for your readers with chimineas. (Heloise here: A chiminea is a free-standing, front-loading ceramic fireplace.) Place a flowerpot saucer on top of your chiminea (when not in use) and fill it with water. Voila! A high-rise birdbath for your backyard birds, who will appreciate relief from the heat.
– Denise R. in San Antonio