Cleaning needlepoint — Hints from Heloise

Dear Heloise: I have several antique NEEDLEPOINT chairs and wall hangings. They are beautiful, but I was nervous about cleaning them. Then I tried the following hints, which work great:

▪  Vacuum on low power. Gently wand the chairs and hangings with the vacuum to pick up dust. Don't touch the nozzle to the fabric.

▪  Washing by hand with gentle, fragrance- and dye-free suds is preferred over harsher chemical formulas.

▪  For tougher staining, test for color bleeding and transfer in a hidden spot, then dab a professional cleaning solvent on any heavily soiled areas. Use a light hand.

▪  When in doubt, hire a professional. Use online sites to get good references and referrals.

— Bernice N. in New York

A professional may recommend that cleaning is the absolute last resort. Cleaning vintage/antique pieces could damage them or greatly reduce their value. — Heloise


Dear Heloise: I have several blouses that have those clear plastic strips for hanging sewn in.

I can't keep the plastic from coming out of my blouse. I've tried tying it to my bra. Help me, please. — Leana J., Riley, Kan.

Leana, manufacturers lightly stitch these plastic hanger straps into garments. They are used to keep apparel, especially women's shirts and blouses, from falling onto the sales floor when on display in the store.

After you purchase the article of clothing, gently pull or snip the hanger straps off. They are no longer needed. — Heloise


Dear Heloise: I think it's great that grocery stores have designated spots in parking lots for carts. It would be helpful if they could be striped with an "X" or something similar so they don't look like parking spaces from a distance. — Sherry in Stafford, Texas


Dear Heloise: My pet peeve is not being able to find single sheets of wrapping paper. All seem to be on rolls or gift bags.

While gift bags are great if you will be giving the gift in person, when mailing, they really don't work well, and buying a roll of wrapping paper for a single gift is wasteful and expensive. — Ann L., via email


Dear Heloise: I live in a small town house. To keep cleaning supplies handy, and to see what I have on hand or need to buy, I hang clear shoe bags with pockets on the backs of laundry doors.

They hold cleaning items, brushes, rags and dusters. Everything is in one place and easy to find. — Harriet B., via email


Dear Heloise: It's that time of year when stores sell live flowers in pots, such as tulips, lilies, etc. I love having them in my house, but the pollen bothers my sinuses, especially at night.

So I started very gently opening the flowers, pinching off the part with the pollen on it (called stamen) and throwing it out. It makes it a lot easier to breathe! — Kathy in Winchester, Va.

Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or you can fax it to 1-210-HELOISE or email it to I can't answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column.