Dear Heloise: I purchased new white bath towels. The care instructions say not to use chlorine bleach. I’ve always used chlorine bleach in white loads of laundry. Why would it not be recommended? Is there another type of bleach readily available?

 — A.J.S., Long Beach

Seems odd, huh? Today’s fabrics (including towels) contain brighteners that chlorine can break down. Here’s my tried-and-true fix:

Create a solution of equal parts — say, 1 cup each of 3% hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and water. Fill the washing machine with water and add this formula. Swish it around, then place the towels in the washer. Let them soak for six hours or overnight, then wash as usual.

Baking soda is in my arsenal of cleaning champions. It’s cheap, safe and readily available, and I’ve been using it for over 40 years! In that time, I’ve compiled a collection of my favorite baking soda hints and recipes in a handy pamphlet. Would you like to receive one? It’s easy! Visit www. Heloise.com to order, or send a stamped (71 cents), self-addressed, long envelope, along with $5, to: Heloise/Baking Soda, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Sometimes it’s hard to completely remove strong odors from clothes. Try this: Add 1/2 cup of baking soda to the rinse cycle. Don’t overload the washer; the clothes need to move around. You’ll rinse those nasty odors right away.

 — Heloise

Letters to Santa!

Dear Readers: We’d like to print your child’s or grandchild’s letter to Santa! And then, of course, we’ll forward all the letters to the big guy. So get your kids inspired to write down what they’d like to have for Christmas.

 — Heloise

P.S. Include the name and age of each child, please!

Hint for him

Dear Heloise: Where does one find boric acid? I’ve asked my pharmacist, and he doesn’t know.

 — Russ, via email

Russ, boric acid is available at big-box retailers and the large online merchants.

It’s used as an insecticide, to make fiberglass, and medically as an antiseptic, acne treatment and even to help prevent athlete’s foot! Always read and follow the package directions.

 — Heloise

Did you know?

Dear Readers: Looking to boost your vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, potassium and fiber levels? Look to lettuce, but only the dark-green varieties.

Iceberg lettuce has virtually no nutritional value, and hardly any flavor. Its only benefit is water.

 — Heloise

Shoe-size stretcher

Dear Heloise: I bought shoes, and they needed breaking in. My caretaker said put pinto beans in bags with a little water and then put the bags in the shoes overnight. When the beans swell up, they stretch your shoes. It worked.

 — Linda H., via email

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