Dear Readers: Do you know the difference between dishwashing liquid and dishwasher gel? Dish soap and dishwashing detergent?

It's important to know the difference, because you will be very unhappy if you use the wrong one in the dishwasher!

So, be sure to follow the directions carefully and use mild DISHWASHING liquid to make my homemade, money-saving, all-purpose cleaner. This works great on grease and grime. Simply mix 1/2 cup nonsudsing ammonia, 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol and 1 teaspoon mild, regular dishwashing liquid (if you use concentrated or ultra, use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon) with enough water to make 1 gallon of cleaner.

You'll find this and a bunch of other eco-friendly, homemade cleaning formulas in my new pamphlet. If you would like one, please send $5 and a long, self-addressed, stamped (59 cents) envelope to: Heloise/Cleaners, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. This six-page pamphlet contains formulas for cleaning everything from heavily soiled surfaces to windows and mirrors. You'll also find a tile grout cleaner that you can easily make by mixing up 1/4 cup borax, 1/2 cup baking soda and enough hot water to form a paste. Leave this on the grout for 15 to 20 minutes, scrub with an old toothbrush, then rinse it off, and your grout will look great! —Heloise

Dear Heloise: I hated throwing away those large, plastic coffee cans, so I use them in the kitchen. Instead of going to the trash can every time I peel an onion or have something to dispose of, I line a can with a plastic bag from the produce department (another recycled item). When I'm done, I take the bag out, line with a fresh bag and I'm ready for the next meal. Also, I leave a bit of ground coffee in the bottom of the can to block any odors. —Thelma, via e-mail

Dear Heloise: I'm an avid gardener. Before putting on my gardener's gloves, I spray my entire hands (especially the cuticles, nail surface and beneath the nails) with nonstick vegetable spray. If any mud or dirt creeps through, cleaning my hands is a breeze. A bonus is that my hands also feel really soft after this treatment. —Susan D., a Hondo, Texas, fan

Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or you can fax it to 1-210-435-6473 or e-mail it to [email protected]. I can't answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column. © King Features Syndicate Inc.