Dear Heloise: My washing machine has an odor. After each use, I dry the inside and leave the door open so it can air out. Do you have any other suggestions for getting rid of the smell? — Louise from Louisiana

Louise, it is always a good idea to let the washer dry out, especially in a high-humidity climate like Louisiana's. After many uses, the machine also may get a soap buildup under the rim that can cause it to smell. There are several ways to get rid of the smell. Use the highest and hottest water setting. Add 1/2 to 1 gallon of cheap vinegar, NO DETERGENT, and run a complete cycle empty — no clothes.

If you have a top-load washer and still have an odor, do this: Select the large load, normal wash, hot water setting, and let the tub fill up. Stop the machine and add hot water till it reaches the top rim of the drum where the buildup is hiding. Don't overfill, just make sure the rim is under the water. Pour 2-4 cups of household bleach into the washer, close the lid and restart the wash cycle. Wait for a few minutes before stopping the cycle. Let the mixture sit (lid closed) for at least 20 minutes or so, then restart the cycle one last time. The washer should smell clean. Remember to leave the lid open between uses so it can air out. — Heloise

Dear Readers: It's important to know that car taillights and blinkers are working. If you have a garage, you can use the wall or door as a visual clue. With the ignition turned off, step on the brakes and look in the rearview mirror. You should be able to see the lights reflected on the door/wall. Turn on the ignition (if necessary — but not the motor) and test the headlights and blinkers the same way, using the wall/door as a reflector. — Heloise

Dear Heloise: I left my phone charger at home. I went to the front desk of the hotel to ask for the location of a store where I could buy a new one. Instead of giving me that information, the clerk pulled a large bucket from under the counter that was full of chargers people had left. He suggested I look through it and see if I could find a charger. I did, used it and then left it there. — Susan Lee, Citrus Heights, Calif.

Who knew? Leaving electronics behind is a hazard we all face! It's good to know — just ask, and the solution might be right there. — Heloise

Dear Heloise: I don't want to awaken my husband by turning on the light when I get up, so I put a big stick-on, glow-in-the dark star on the doorjamb of the bathroom. A second star is on the flashlight by the bedside table, and another is on the switch for the lamp. — Barb in Virginia

Send a great hint to: Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000; Fax: 210-HELOISE; E-mail: [email protected] © King Features Syndicate