HELOISE Help sought for cleaning porous clay planters

Dear Heloise: I want to clean the white deposits off of several clay planters before I do my spring planting. How do you suggest I do this? Debbie S., Lake Placid, N.Y.
The key to your success is good ol' white household vinegar! First, scrub the planters with soap and water to remove dust and dirt, and rinse well. Then wipe them with an old rag or sponge saturated with white household vinegar -- this will remove those white stains.
Clay planters (also known as terra cotta) are porous, and these stains are mineral deposits and other elements in the soil that leach to the outside of the planter.
Note: After the planters are clean and thoroughly dried, here's something you can do to help prevent this problem from happening again: Seal the inner and outer surfaces with an acrylic sealer, or a quick fix is to coat the surfaces with some mineral oil. And for more ways to use vinegar, order my six-page pamphlet filled with a multitude of uses that can save you from buying expensive cleaners. To order, send $4 and a self-addressed, stamped (60 cents), long envelope to: Heloise/Vinegar, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5001. Here's a tidbit from the pamphlet: Add a cup of white household vinegar to the final rinse water when washing clothes. This will help remove soap buildup from the clothes and make them soft and fluffy. Heloise
Dear Heloise: I travel quite often for the company I work for. Because of this, I have developed a routine that ensures that certain family and friends know where I am -- city, hotel address and phone number, etc. Around the middle of each month, I fax to them a copy of the next month's calendar page that I have filled in with travel info on the appropriate dates.
My parents, a friend who looks after my house and a close neighbor all get the info they need to track me down if need be! Hope this helps other frequent business travelers. Mark C., Washington, D.C.
Mark, this is a very good hint, and many road warriors do the same -- it certainly can help in an emergency. Heloise
Dear Heloise: When I try to clean my automatic coffee maker, it is difficult to remove the oil and residue that build up in the ribs and crevices of the basket. I now use a 11/2-inch paintbrush, and this leaves it looking almost like new.
Enjoy your column and look forward to reading it for many more years! Marion Desatnik, Hudson
Dear Heloise: To clean ceiling-fan blades, pull an old pillowcase over the blade, grasp the case tightly around the blade where it's attached to the motor and pull it off carefully. The pillowcase dusts and captures the lint and dust inside.
When done, take the case outside, turn it inside out and shake it. Faye C., Dallas
Dear Heloise: For anyone who "collects" electrical cords like I do (to coffeepots, frying pans, etc.) and hates to pull out a cord only to have a tangled drawerful come out: The way I avoid this is to use self-closing plastic bags for each cord and label them. Virginia Castro, Blanco, Texas
XSend a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000, or you can fax it to (210) HELOISE or e-mail it to Heloise@Heloise.com. I can't answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column.
King Features Syndicate

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