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Hints from Heloise: Baking soda, vinegar – and a sledgehammer – to the rescue when problems pop up

DEAR READERS: Here is a good way to test your hint IQ: Do you know what to do to keep a block of hard cheese, like cheddar, from getting moldy? Which of the following should you use?

A. A cheesecloth sprinkled with baking soda.

B. Sprinkle salt on the cheese.

C. A vinegar-dampened cheesecloth.

Which answer did you choose? The correct answer is C. Wrap the block of cheese in cheesecloth that has been moistened with just a little vinegar. Then put the covered block in a plastic bag and put it in the refrigerator. The taste of the cheese will not be affected by the vinegar.

Depending on how long you are storing the cheese, you might need to remoisten the cloth.

DEAR HELOISE: I shine my own dress shoes and find that it’s difficult to get a good shine if they aren’t securely anchored. Placing them on my feet and bending over to buff them is no longer an option.

I went to my tool chest and grabbed the 5-pound sledgehammer, put it inside a shoe, then placed it on the edge of the workbench (or countertop). Voilà – it provided enough weight to keep the shoe in place while I worked it over with the chamois cloth.

– Kerry E., Orange.

DEAR HELOISE: I remember seeing a solution for stale- or sour-smelling towels. I don’t remember the solution. Could you please reprint it?

– A Reader, via email

DEAR READER: I would be happy to! There can be several reasons towels smell sour or moldy. One is that you may be overloading the washing machine, and therefore the towels can’t really be rinsed out well.

Rewash the towels in smaller loads with the normal amount of detergent, but also add in 1/2 cup of baking soda or washing soda (found in the laundry aisle). Also, try a second rinse and then put the towels in the dryer immediately. You may need to repeat the process to remove the entire odor.

Baking soda can be used for so many things, and I have compiled some of my favorites in a pamphlet. To order, send $5 and a long, self-addressed, stamped (70 cents) envelope to: Heloise/Baking Soda, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001.

Is your mop a little smelly? Soak it in a baking-soda solution (4 tablespoons to 1 quart of water) for a few hours. Rinse well, and the smell should disappear. Then pour the baking-soda water down the drain as a freshener. Two hints in one!