Cheap, throwaway furniture is not a good value. Avoid it — Hints from Heloise

Dear Readers: Buying FURNITURE is an investment, but a necessary one. Cheap, throwaway furniture is not a good purchase. The quality is not there, and the pieces will not last.

Decide on a budget and exactly how much you can spend on new furniture, and ask family and friends for advice. Here are some hints to help:

▪  On wood furniture, look for solid wood. Avoid pieces labeled "particleboard," "pressboard" and "fiberboard."

▪  Dovetail joints are high-quality. Furniture put together with staples and glue is, of course, lower quality.

▪  Drawers should close smoothly.

▪  Cushions need to consist of a firm interior, wrapped in padding. Bare foam means the maker didn't take the time to do quality work.

▪  Upholstery patterns should match, and the pleating around the bottom should be weighted.

Also, look around your home to see what pieces can be moved and repurposed. Rearranging the good-quality furniture you already have can give your room a new look, and can save you money, too! — Heloise


Dear Heloise: I have twin toddler grandchildren, and wow, can they make a mess! Can you give me some hints to keep their clothes clean? Help! — Grandma Flo in Louisiana

How wonderful to have two little grandkids! But I agree — it's double the work! Follow the three rules of stain removal:

Attack the stain ASAP. Set-in stains are harder to remove.

Give it time. Spray pre-treater, and let the cleaner do the work.

Some stains are stubborn. You may need to repeat a treatment. Don't put clothes in the dryer until you are satisfied that the stain is gone.

I have compiled a collection of my best stain-removal hints in a handy pamphlet. Would you like to receive one? It's easy — visit www. to order, or send a stamped (70 cents), business-size, self-addressed envelope, along with $5, to: Heloise/Stain, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Don't overstuff the washer — items need to move freely to get cleaner. — Heloise


Dear Heloise: I got tired of having to clean the bathroom mirror every time I flossed and brushed my teeth. Finally, I realized that if I leaned down over the sink to do the job and didn't watch myself in the mirror, the mirror stayed clean and spatter-free. An obvious solution, but one I didn't think of for years! — Nancy B., North Little Rock, Ark.


Dear Heloise: When my son was born, we took a picture of him lying on the same blanket every month on the same day. We took the picture of him in his diaper alone.

It was amazing to see his development over his first year of life. Maybe mothers-to-be would like this idea. — Bev Collin, Ravenna, Ohio

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.