Dear Heloise: It's been reported that there is FORMALDEHYDE in paper towels. I put bacon between paper towels, and I cover food in the microwave with them. Am I doing anything harmful? -- Eileen S., Jamestown, Ohio

Eileen, formaldehyde is a clear, pungent gas used in the manufacture of lots of household items. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.CDC.gov), paper products emit only a small (their emphasis) amount of formaldehyde.

Exposure to formaldehyde can lead to irritated eyes, a scratchy throat and a rash, but this is unlikely to occur from the use of paper towels.

Nail-care products, tobacco and manufactured wood give off larger amounts of formaldehyde. If you'd like more information about formaldehyde, you can call the CDC at 800-CDC-INFO (232-4636). -- Heloise

Dear Heloise: I love reading your column. I'd like to recommend something I haven't seen in it: I wish bread companies would make smaller loaves of bread. I'm elderly, and I have to freeze or refrigerate leftover bread before it gets stale or molds. -- Ann H., Union Grove, Ala.

Dear Readers: We all have bad habits! Have you ever tried to break one? It's not easy. Here are some hints that might help:


Write it down. If you can see it, you can achieve it.
Let friends and family know your goals -- they can support you.
Work in baby steps; celebrate minor victories.
Think positive thoughts -- encourage yourself.
Never, ever give up!

These hints should help you break bad habits and start good ones! -- Heloise

Dear Heloise: I'm having trouble cleaning my stainless steel vacuum (thermos) bottle. I've tried to get rid of the stains, and nothing seems to work. -- Mary G., Waterbury, Conn.

Happy to help, Mary! Place three or four heaping tablespoons of baking soda in the bottle, and fill with hot water. Let stand overnight, and give it a good shake (then pour this mixture down your garbage disposal to help freshen it). Wash and rinse thoroughly.

Baking soda has helped me clean and freshen my home for over 40 years -- it is a workhorse! It's cheap, safe and readily available. I've compiled my favorite baking soda hints in a handy pamphlet. Would you like to receive one? Visit www.Heloise.com to order, or send a long, stamped (71 cents), self-addressed envelope, along with $5, to: Heloise/Baking Soda, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. If the baking soda doesn't complete the job, try a denture-cleaning tablet -- another cheap and safe cleaner! -- Heloise

Dear Heloise: Many lotions and shampoos have pumps to deliver the product. When the pump stops delivering the product, there could be a few ounces still left in the container!

You have to turn the container upside down and let it drain, then pound the bottom of the container to get the rest out! -- Neil R., Lake Worth, Fla.