Heloise: How to clean the coffee maker


My coffee maker is getting slower and slower. Could it be the lime deposits in our water, and if so, what can I do about it? - Merry, via e-mail

Hard water probably is the culprit, especially if you don't have a water softener. However, there is a very easy solution, and it involves my old friend, vinegar.

Fill the reservoir with straight vinegar, let it go through a brew cycle, then turn off the coffee maker. Put the hot vinegar back in, let sit for about 20-30 minutes, then run through one more time. Run fresh cold water through several times, and you are all set.

Don't waste that vinegar. Pour it down the drain to kill bacteria.


I recently fell, spraining my wrist. I discovered that a flexible wine chiller (gel-filled tube that fits typical wine bottles) makes a great ice pack for a hand injury - just drape a cloth napkin on your hand and slide your hand into the chiller. - Suzanne, via e-mail


When I turned 40, I threw myself a birthday party at home. On the invitation, I noted that I was trying to raise 40 pounds of food to donate to a local food pantry (in lieu of presents).

After a great bash with friends and family, I took 100 pounds of nonperishable food items to a local pantry. Next time I have any kind of party, I plan to do the same, although I will increase the goal. - Kathy, Cypress, Texas


Turkey basters are great little inventions. I've come across many hints and alternative uses for them through the years, and here are some of the best:

- Fill with cake batter and squeeze the exact amount needed into cupcake tins, with no mess!

- Use to suck up grease from the pan when frying meat. Be careful not to touch the pan with the baster because it might melt.

- Use to refill an iron.

- If you overwater your houseplants, use to suck up the excess water. - Heloise


Several years ago, I accidentally froze a small plastic bag with my freshly purchased garlic bulbs. What a great mistake.

I discovered that the garlic thaws within minutes, and the skin simply falls off. It's easy to slice when still cold, or you can let it thaw to room temperature to mince or crush. Simply remove as many cloves as you need from the bulb, and put the remainder back in a freezer bag in the freezer. The odor does not permeate - even to your ice-cube trays. - Eileen Gustafson, Perkins, Mich.