A smell by any other name — Hints from Heloise


Dear Readers: You might think the terms “UNSCENTED” and “FRAGRANCE-FREE” mean the same thing. NOT!

“Fragrance-free” usually means no extra fragrance has been mixed in, but the cosmetic, drug or household item may have an existing aroma or smell from other ingredients in the product.

“Unscented” is a different scenario. It can almost be stated as “de-scented.” Unscented products typically are treated with chemicals to remove, mask or cover up scents in products. The chemicals used to “unscent” an item may be irritating to people with fragrance sensitivities, but they’re not ordinarily considered harmful or dangerous. Ask your medical professional for advice when dealing with fragrance allergies and sensitivities. — Heloise


Dear Heloise: With the way the world is today, I need to “unplug” and take time away from the news and all these electronic devices. I try to spend at least 30 minutes to an hour a day outside, just listening and observing nature. — Julie W., Fort Wayne, Ind.

I’m with you! Even five or 10 minutes is beneficial. — Heloise


Dear Heloise: When I was helping my auntie move to assisted living, one task I did was shoot a nice set of photos of her apartment, with close-ups of her beloved things. I included one of her, smiling, in her favorite chair. I made a little book of those snapshots; she loved having it handy.

Now that she is gone, I have a small memento of her in her natural surroundings with her beloved things. And I was better able to let go of those items and not have them come to clutter my house! — A.C.T., Punta Gorda, Fla.


Dear Heloise: I am a daily drinker of multiple pots of coffee, and I have lots of used grounds to dispose of.

Using a grocery bag to put grounds in before throwing them away works well. This cuts down on garbage aroma until it’s time to take out the garbage. — Mary L., International Falls, Minn.

Hi, Mary: Did you know that used coffee grounds are rich in nourishment for acid-loving plants? They also can absorb odors in the freezer (poke holes in a margarine tub and pour some in).

Sprinkle a generous amount in the compost pile as well. One more reuse for coffee grounds? Pour dry into an old sock and tuck into stinky sneakers to absorb sneaker-feet smell! — Heloise


Dear Heloise: I use the plastic lids on cans of nuts as coasters. They keep the table dry and are easy to replace if they are damaged. — Pauline F.M., via email

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.