My counters have some culture

Dear Heloise: I recently moved to a house with CULTURED MARBLE COUNTERS. How do I take care of them? I don’t want to do anything damaging without knowing. Thanks for your help! — Mark in Wisconsin

Mark, great question! Cultured marble is not really marble, but is man-made to look like the real thing. It is pretty durable, but it does need to be taken care of. Here are some hints on how to do that:

* Never put anything hot directly on a counter. No hot pans, curling irons, etc. It might hurt the finish, depending on how hot the pan is!

* Use nonabrasive cleaners, or baking soda and water. Never use abrasive cleaners, like scouring powder, because they may mar the surface.

* Liquids like bleach or nail-polish remover can hurt it, so use caution.

* Small scratches can be “filled in,” so go to a home-improvement store for the right product to fix the problem.

— Heloise

Smelly garbage

Dear Heloise: We walk our two schnauzers three times a day and always come home with a poop bag. Garbage is picked up twice a week, and storing the poop bags was pretty stinky. So, we got a plastic container with a tight lid and added about an inch of kitty litter in the bottom. Come garbage day, we dump the whole thing into our garbage bag, refill the kitty litter, and we are good to go until the next garbage day. — Christine W., via email

Good doggie hint! For others who don’t have garbage pickup, you can flush the waste down the toilet! — Heloise

Bottom of the jar

Dear Heloise: I hate trying to scrape the bottom of a jar to get the last bit of contents out, but I hate wasting it more. I now store almost-empty jars of mayonnaise, mustard, etc., on their sides. It makes getting to that last bit so much easier, and my hand isn’t covered from sticking it way down in the jar. — A Reader, via email

Hummingbird feeders

Dear Heloise: We have a few hummingbird feeders in our yard. They come apart and are easy to clean, except for the feeding holes where the birds stick their tongues. I have a very small bristle brush used to clean icing tips. It works perfectly to clean those small openings. — Lisa in San Clemente, Calif.

Touch-up can

Dear Heloise: When we painted the inside of the house, I purchased a small can of paint in the color. I keep it for touch-ups. Every once in a while, I get the can out and go around the house and fix spots that need it. — Grace in Texas

Faded receipts

Dear Heloise: Have you ever noticed that receipts fade over time? If I have a receipt that is important and I need to save it, I make a copy. That way, if the ink fades over time, I still have it to show. — K.J. in Illinois

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 Heloise(at) I can’t answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column.