DEAR HELOISE: I hate the smell of mothballs. Recently, I noticed that by placing lemon peelings in mesh bags in my closet, I could eliminate the use of mothballs. It worked like a charm! — Lisa W., Lowell, Massachusetts

DEAR HELOISE: My husband and I travel overseas, sometimes for as long as a month at a time. To keep our home safe, we make certain it doesn’t look empty by using a few simple tricks:

  • We use a timer on our lights, so that when the kitchen light turns off, the bedroom light goes on. We do this all over the house.
  • We have the post office hold our mail, and a neighbor we trust picks up anything left on our doorstep, such as flyers and papers of any kind. We have a lawn service keep our yard mowed and hedges trimmed.
  • When we had a pet, we’d have a pet-sitter service feed and water our pet.
  • Our car was parked halfway up the driveway so that thieves couldn’t back up a truck or van and empty out the house. — Betty L., Norman, Oklahoma

DEAR HELOISE: Whenever our paintbrushes get hard, I soften them by placing them in very hot vinegar until they become pliable again, then wash with warm water and soap. — Delores M., Webster City, Iowa

DEAR HELOISE: Before the cold weather sets in, be sure to give your plants dessert. Just mix 1 teaspoon of a dessert gelatin with a gallon of liquid fertilizer, or with a gallon of water. Mix well, then quickly pour around the soil of the plant. The gelatin helps the soil hold water, and the sugar feeds the organisms within the soil. — Ashley H., Somerset, Kentucky

DEAR HELOISE: After sewing on a button, I like to use a tiny drop of clear nail polish in the center of the button. This ensures that the thread will not become loose and my button will stay on and not need to be sewn again. — Nancy O., Derby, Kansas

© 2018 King Features

Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001, or you can fax it to 1-210-HELOISE or email it to