DEAR HELOISE: I love to use cloth napkins in my home, because they look prettier than paper and are more environmentally stable. However, many female guests leave lipstick marks on the napkins after using them. Do you have a hint for removing these stains?
– Debbie W., via email
DEAR DEBBIE: Yes, and it’s easy. Use an old towel or a couple of paper towels. Lay the lipstick-stained part of the napkin down on the towel. Take another towel, dampen it with rubbing alcohol (70 to 90 percent) and use it to dab the stained areas of the napkin. Check underneath as you work, and you should start to see the lipstick transfer onto the bottom towel. Continue to dab until the stain disappears. With longer-lasting lipsticks, this may take longer, but keep working, and the stains should come out.
You also can use a prewash spray on both sides of the stain and scrub it with a small brush.
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P.S.: Here is a hint I learned from a friend: She put a paper napkin inside the cloth one, so the ladies could use that first (discreetly) to blot the lipstick!
DEAR HELOISE: There are many ways to reuse the plastic bags that newspapers come in. I reuse them to hold wet umbrellas. I keep a couple of bags in my purse, and whenever it rains, I simply slip my umbrella into a bag before going inside. I hate carrying around a wet umbrella inside a store, and this solves the problem.
– L.Y. in Illinois
DEAR HELOISE: I try to lump all of my errands together. Many times I have gone grocery shopping and then needed to go right back out again. When I know this is going to happen, I try to separate the grocery bags in the car. When loading the groceries, bags that have food that needs to be refrigerated or frozen go on the right side of my trunk. Bags with groceries that can be put away later go on the left side. When I get home, I know which ones need to be put away and which can wait until later.
– R.T. in San Antonio
DEAR HELOISE: Whenever I get a piece of furniture or something else that needs assembling using small parts, I get out a muffin tin. Before I begin to assemble, I separate all the little pieces, like screws and bolts, into the different compartments. It makes assembly much easier and helps me to not lose any of the pieces.
– T.H. in Maryland