Dear Readers: Stubborn carpet stains getting you down? Give the following a try: First, get to the stain as soon as possible and blot up liquids (scoop up solids with a spoon) with paper towels or old bath towels. Then use the following solution:

Mix 1 teaspoon mild dishwashing detergent in 1 cup warm water, dip a sponge in the liquid and dab at the stain, moving from the outside toward the middle. DO NOT overwet! Rinse with fresh water and dry with towels. Then add 1/3 cup white vinegar to 2/3 cup water and use this on the area to remove the soap residue.

Lastly, rinse with water and blot until dry. You will find this and other money-saving "green" formulas in my new Heloise's Homemade Cleaning Solutions pamphlet, which you can have by sending $5 and a long, self-addressed, stamped (59 cents) envelope to: Heloise/ Cleaners, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001.

FYI: Once your carpet is thoroughly dry, sprinkle it with baking soda to deodorize, let sit and vacuum. Your carpet will look and smell great! NOTE: Put the bath towels down, then stand on them to really soak up all of the liquid. — Heloise

Dear Heloise: If your vacuum is hard to push, it might be that the beater-brush bar is all wrapped up!

Last night, I took a look, and oh my! Hair, sewing thread and other things were wrapped around the bar.

Hint: Unplug the vacuum, get a flashlight and a seam ripper (or a sharp, small knife) or tweezers and snip, pull and "detangle" that stuff. What a difference it made! — Bernie S., via e-mail

Dear Heloise: Here is another hint for a contact person while traveling, in case of an emergency: If my husband and I are separated, we each wear a rubber bracelet with each other's name and cell-phone number on it so we can be reached if needed. —Betty, via e-mail

Dear Readers: In these tough economic times, we all try to save money here and there. Reusing things is good, but please remember that you should not reuse a plastic bag that has held raw meat, poultry, seafood, etc., for other food items. Even if you wash it out, there is a chance of salmonella. — Heloise

Dear Heloise: To lower my laundry expenses, I cut dryer sheets in half. They provide static and lint guard for a large load. The smaller amount of perfume is better for those with sensitive skin. — Becky Ricci, Englewood, Fla.

Dear Heloise: I recycle paper bags from the grocery store by cutting off the store name, then I feed them through the shredder. I use them for stuffing in gift bags. — Cindy L. Davis, Amarillo, Texas

Dear Heloise: Don't throw out the water when you cook vegetables. It is perfect as a base for veggie or chicken soup. It's full of vitamins. — A.D., Fort Worth, Texas

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