Dear Readers: Back to school means back to the mall, big-box retailer or online site for kids clothes. What should you look for? Here are some hints:

• Seams should be stitched tight.

• Fabric should be of good quality and durable.

• Clothes should be soft and comfortable, not itchy.

• No fringe and drawstrings. They could be strangulation hazards.

• Make sure you follow the school dress code; basics are always a good bet: plain sweaters, shorts and T-shirts.

• Colors that hide stains are a good idea, too.

Check out the clearance sections, and here’s a final hint: Buy some pieces that are a bit too big. These pieces won’t be too big for too long.

A child who is looking good and comfortable is someone who is ready to learn.

— Heloise

Savory flavor

Dear Readers: You know the simple tastes of sweet, sour, salty and bitter, but do you know the name of the fifth simple taste, that of broth and meatiness?

It’s called “umami,” which is Japanese for “pleasant and savory.” Surprisingly, the category of umami has only been officially recognized since 1985.

Foods that contain a lot of glutamate can be called umami: Parmesan cheese, mushrooms, chicken, beef and pork all can take on the rich flavor of umami. Check it out!

— Heloise

That makes

a lick of sense

Dear Heloise: Please tell retail baggers to stop the unsanitary and unsavory practice of licking their fingers to open plastic bags. It is especially troublesome at grocery stores or food establishments.

They could instead use a small mist bottle, a damp sanitary wipe or some hand sanitizer to moisten their fingers. Or better yet, the company should offer paper or reusable bags.

 — Regular Reader

in Texas

Letter of laughter

Dear Readers: Kathleen H. in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, sent a picture of her lint trap from her clothes dryer. It’s completely full after she washed and dried her bathroom rug.

She wonders if the rug will eventually disappear because it’s shedding all that lint! Not likely, Kathleen, but let’s make that lint disappear.

Readers, empty your lint trap before or after (either one) each load. Lint buildup can be a precursor to a dryer fire.

And putting the lint out for the birds for nesting material? That’s a birdbrained idea. When the lint gets wet, it can dry hard like cement.

— Heloise

Public restrooms

Dear Heloise: Not all public restrooms provide paper seat covers. I carry several individually wrapped antibacterial hand wipes in my purse. These take up very little room.

I wipe down the toilet seat with one or more of these wipes. Then I use toilet paper to dry the seat. I don’t flush the wipes.

 — Lois U., Colby, Kansas

Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001, or you can fax it to 1-210-HELOISE or email it to Heloise@Heloise.com. I can’t answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column.

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