Dear Heloise: I was reading your hints about fabric-softener buildup. I add the softener to the dispenser, and then I fill the dispenser with water. I never have a "gunk" buildup by doing this. — Shirley Cave, Orem, Utah

Many readers said they dilute the fabric softener with water either in the dispenser or in a cup before adding it to the laundry. We checked with several manufacturers, and they actually recommend doing this.

Another laundry hint is from Linda Cameron, via e-mail: Linda cuts a fabric-softener sheet in half because she says her laundry comes out smelling too much like the softener when she uses a full sheet.

The half-sheets work just fine, and they last two or three times as long. — Heloise

Dear Heloise: Whenever I am at yard sales or flea markets, I pick up a couple of inexpensive but pretty vases, coffeepots, teapots, etc. When I want to give flowers to a friend or relative, I buy a bunch of flowers and arrange them in one of these containers that way, the gift includes the flowers and the container, and I have not had to spend a lot of money for an expensive and impersonal flower arrangement. Friends, co-workers, etc., seem to love the personal touch. — Jane Wise Pierce, Herndon, Va.

Thanks so much for e-mailing your hint. For other readers who would like to send a hint or question via e-mail, here's my address: — Heloise

Dear Heloise: Here is my favorite timesaver: When putting adhesive-backed plastic on your shelves, take 2 inches off the front adhesive and just the two back corners off. It's much easier than taking off all the backing. — Mrs. E. Casperite, Pfafftown, N.C.

Dear Heloise: My rolls of gift wrap were always a mess. If they were loose, they kept unrolling, and if I used tape, it tore the paper. I finally found the solution: I use the little plastic ring made by opening a new container of milk. Just slip it over the gift wrap, and it stays in place. — Jan Goran, Waukesha, Wis.

Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000