Dear Heloise: How do I clean the inside of my dishwasher? -- G. Schaffer, Lohman, Mo.
You can use citric acid (see note below) in the form of powdered orange or lemon instant drink mix. Just follow these steps:
1. Add 3 to 4 ounces of the powdered mix to the detergent cup.
2. DO NOT add dishwashing detergent, rinse additive or dishes.
3. Run the dishwasher through a regular cycle, and voila -- it should be stain-free. If it's a heavy buildup, it might take several attempts.
Note: You might also be able to find powdered citric acid in certain specialty grocery stores (you'll have to call around to find who might carry it in your area). To use plain citric acid, add 1-2 tablespoons to the detergent dispenser and follow steps 2 and 3 above.
If you're having a problem with hard-water mineral buildup in your dishwasher, here's how to use good ol' household vinegar to remove it. Start the dishwasher empty (no detergent) on a regular cycle. Measure 2 cups of cheap household vinegar and add it to the bottom of the dishwasher after it has begun filling with water. When the cycle is complete, check inside to see if the mineral buildup has been removed. If not, you can repeat this cleaning method. -- Heloise
Dear Heloise: I have a plastic self-sealing bag that I keep in my suitcase all the time. Included are things I might need: transparent tape (as an emergency hem tape, among many uses), small length of rope (strung between two chairs makes a clothesline), sewing kit, felt-tip pen, sticky notes, rubber bands, paper clips, safety pins, small glue, etc. The bag has a few pinholes to prevent it from trapping air, so it takes up little room. -- Barbara Firor, Anaheim Hills, Calif.
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