Hints (not from) Heloise

Are you familiar with “Hints from Heloise?”

Heloise gained popularity a bit before my time, but a quick summary is that she’s a writer/columnist who took over a syndicated column from her mom in 1977—"Hints from Heloise”—in which she dispenses  lifestyle tips and hints on everything from travel and pets to home improvement.

She also has an editorial  gig in Good Housekeeping, so basically she’s like Martha Stewart without a mug shot or an empire.

Anyway, if I were ever given a column, it would be a more  bastardized “Dear Abby meets Carrie Bradshaw” type thing than Heloise, as I am no domestic diva.

But I do have my own house, and even if it often plots against me, I’ve learned a thing or two.

Hints from a Domestically Disabled Diva

If you read nothing else, the most important thing I can tell you is this: It’s easier to throw away and replace a mini-blind than to actually clean the one you have. 


They have created cleaning items specifically for this job—I have one myself—and although they help, you still end up inventing new combinations of profanity that neighbors with young children will not appreciate.

Bonus hint: The same goes for shower curtain liners.

Buy a $5 liner from Target—and ONLY the shower curtain liner, not $80 worth of other things you didn’t go there intending to buy—and simply cut it off the hooks when it’s time to change it. Trying to open and close the hooks to take off the old liner when you already have to open and close the hooks to put one on will take years off your life.

Just cut it off and cut your losses.

This Sucks

True story: I had a roommate when I lived in Detroit that simply bought a new vacuum cleaner when it was time to change the bag on the one he had, only because he didn’t want to have to change the bag.

I don’t recommend this, but I kind of understand.

But bagless vacuums help, but aren’t necessarily the answer. I have one with a cool light on the front of it and everything, but emptying the container causes a bigger mess than what I just sucked up. As a result, I pull out the dust buster to suck the dust up, only to face the same situation in emptying the dust buster.

I don’t have a solution for this one other than to NOT empty either container the same day you vacuum. At least you can feel like the house is clean for a few hours.

Small victories. 

This Stinks

Due to the fact that I eat a lot of vegetables—namely steamed broccoli at least once a day—my house has the potential to smell like I eat a lot of vegetables.

Delicious? Yes. Delightfully fragrant? Not so much.

I light incense right before I eat to combat this aroma. True, I usually forget that I lit incense and freak out five minutes later thinking something is burning in my kitchen, but at least is smells nice once I recover from my panic attack.

But my absolute favorite thing?


Glade Water Blossoms spray.

I have never smelled water blossoms so I don’t know if I’m being ripped off or not, but I don’t care. It’s delightful.

It’s A Wash

When it comes to laundry, well, I don’t really have any great hints. The time spent folding clean laundry only to unfold it and hang it up is time that could be spent shopping for a new mini blind or doing anything else. My only hint is to buy clothes that never need to be ironed.

We’ve covered this before, but I currently have a pair of cute pants I haven’t worn in months simply because they need to be ironed and my ironing board is better suited for a Keebler Elf.


The only upside to laundry—aside from clean clothes and the pleasure my OCD takes in cleaning the lint tray on the dryer—is that if you slip on a fabric sheet dropped on your kitchen floor, you instantly turn into something that resembles a manic  figure skater having a seizure.

It’s quite impressive.

So there you go.

I have many more hints and tips I could dispense, but I don’t want to overload your brain with too much valuable information in one post. Perhaps I will present a sequel in the future. You know, if the whole bastardized “Dear Abby meets Carrie Bradshaw” –type column thing doesn’t pan out.

Because sorry guys. If offered syndication, you can bet I’ll take it and run with it. Unless of course it requires writing about coordinating throw pillows.

In which case, I’m screwed.

Like the blog? Buy the book.

45 responses to “Hints (not from) Heloise

  1. Until I get my children the hybrid sugeries to change them into part robots like me, I’m dependent on conventional cleaning methods.

    With pets in the house (dog & 2 kittens), people who come over (this is rare because we are weird) say “your house doesn’t seem like 1 w 3 pets”. WE sweep & mop 5 or 6 times a week. Plus deordorizers are in the grocery store for a reason…they work.

    This is my most boring comment of all time.

  2. We don’t have any mini-blinds in the house. I’m now convinced that was the best decision ever.

  3. Sad to say, I remember Heloise well! I think the shower curtain liner was your best hint! Loved this post!

  4. I empty the vacuum canister every time, which doesn’t create a big mess because it’s not very full. I also get some sort of satisfaction seeing exactly how much debris I removed from my house that specific time. So if you just consider it part of rolling up the cord and putting the vacuum away, it won’t seem so onerous.

  5. You’re hilarious Abby. That ironing borad, LOL LOL! I had one like that in college. And I have never ironed since.

    Now what about these vacuums that have the blower on the back? SO ANNOYING. You are vacuumming one way, and when you turn around, all the dirt is blown away into the air, only to most likely land where you have already vacuumed.

    What is your opinion, dear Abby, on dusting before vacuum or after? I’ve heard arguments for both.

    Mini blinds are so 1990s.

    • We covered the dust/vacuum debate in this post . But as for mini-blinds, they might be 1990s, but I still like the fact I can let in as little or as much light as I want. Plus, some came with the house 😉

  6. Holy crap, there is a gizmo to clean those damn horizontal blinds? I love gizmos, and we have those blinds everywhere and they wil be the frigging death of me… I dont care if it isnt a good thing, I am gonna find me one!

    And yes for shower liners totally agree, buy cheap ones and throw them out. I love the earth and wanna recycle and everything, but that is too much….

    • They’re actually really cheap and kind of work, but I also felt like they just moved the dust around. I still use them for the big blinds, but the smaller ones? I cut my losses.

  7. I find all of these tips incredibly helpful. As a decidedly UNdomestic diva, I can certainly benefit from ideas like cutting the shower curtain lining off after it gets all that nasty mold and mildew on it. Makes perfect sense to me.

    And I agree completely about the blinds. Stupid to ever try cleaning the damn things.

  8. Hahhaha. You are so right about the shower curtain. I effing hate cleaning it AND IT NEVER GETS CLEAN ANYWAY. I should go stock up on some.

    For the blinds, just use a cat. I mean, the cat will chew off the string and destroy them, but cats are also handy little dusters for stuff like that…

  9. I can’t eat broccoli anymore. It makes me more bloated than soda and it gives me those “silent” but deadly farts which are far worse than the noisy farts that dont really smell because I’ve mastered the “sneeze-fart” trick.

    Dude, start wear the pants! who gives a shit if its ironed! Trust me, no one is walking down the street thinking, “those pants on that hot girl are so cut—oh hey! Oh, no! they aren’t ironed! Fuck that, what a disorganized human being!”. See? Wear them. Flaunt them. Even if you lack a sizable ass.

  10. True effing story about the mini-blinds. But I’m renting right now so buying new is out.

    I don’t like clothes that you can’t just wash and dry. Does the Gap think I have time for this?!

  11. Great tips, Abby.
    I feel pretty lame after raising three sons and never one once thinking to just cut the damn shower curtain liner off the rings. I despise shower curtain rings and have lost my shit more than a few times over them.
    We eats loads of broccoli around here, too. Our dogs gasses us pretty regularly, so broccoli doesn’t phase us much in comparison.

  12. where do you put all the recycling??? that’s what I’d like to know. Really, more tips please!

  13. I would never cut my liner off! You can wash it in the dishwasher or the washing machine and hang it back up.

  14. For years I would take my mini blinds down and clean them in the sink with soap and water. This house has larger wood slat blinds which are much easier to clean. The vacuum thing made me laugh because I JUST changed the bag and realized it needs a new belt. So I’ve been vacuuming my house with the attachment for two weeks, until I make it to the store to buy a belt. I can make it to the store to get lamb chops and brussel sprouts, but something I really need? That’ll have to wait.

    Great tip on the cutting off the shower curtain liner. I’m totally doing that next time.

  15. I once tried cleaning my mini-blinds, and it did not end well! You’re right about it being easier and smarter to get new ones. And same goes for the shower curtains!

    I cannot believe someone bought a brand new vacuum cleaner just to avoid changing the bag. That’s hilarious.

    But, I am partial to using Fabreeze for removing any and all household odors.

    • Febreeze is good for certain things like actual fabric and such, but I am obsessed with that Glade room spray. It’s quite spectacular.
      As for the roommate, he had money and only vacuumed like, once a year, so I suppose buying a new one might have been easier.

  16. I have to get my grubby hands on that air freshener. Now that my tree is disassembled there’s no need to for my house to smell like faux pine any longer.

  17. After trying once to clean the miniblinds in my house (which I don’t think were super clean when I moved in. . . ), and finding it frustrating and not all that rewarding, I have decided I don’t mind living with dirty mini blinds.

    As for the shower curtain liner. . . I have been thinking lately I’d just be better off buying new ones. I gave them a little clean recently, but I don’t really trust how clean I can really get ’em.

    As for vacuuming, I tend to empty the canister right before I vacuum. Because it always makes a massive mess. According to my vaccuum’s maual, I should be emptying it immediately after use to prolong filter life. This is balogne cakes, if you ask me.

    And I like burning candles to deal with the smells my house sometimes has. Though, remembering I have a candle lit is sometimes not a strong suite of mine. . .

    i wear wrinkly clothes.

  18. We use the dryer for an iron, which pretty much means we own clothes that don’t need to be ironed.

  19. I kind of sympathize with the roommate who didn’t want to change the vacuum bag. Vacuuming is the worst and when I hear someone doing it, I go bonkers.

  20. fantastic ideas, every single one. most of which i use on a regular basis. the one about not emptying the vacuum canister after you vacuum? further proof we’re soul sisters.

  21. OMG, where to start? Heloise was not, unfortunately, before my time? Was she real? Is she still alive? I don’t think I ever actually read her, but I did read the original “Dear Abby.” I, too, have steamed broccoli every single night. I will definitely try the Glade water blossom. I had that very same Hobbit ironing board till I threw it out when I moved. Now I just put a towel down on the kitchen counter should the rare need to iron arise. An empty the vacuum canister OUTSIDE. And preferably downwind from you.

    Okay. My work here is done.

  22. Yes!! More of this! I totally cut off my shower liners and I hate my mini blinds. In fact so much of this is a pain in the ass I don’t just want to buy new blinds and vacuums, I want to move and start over.

    Rotten broccoli is one of the worst smelling things on the planet.

  23. I’ve just bought those blinds – GODAMMIT! I hadn’t even thought about how to clean them, oh fuck it.

  24. Why, WHY do I always go in to Target for underwear and toilet bowl cleaner and come up with a muffin tin, clothes, a necklace, candles and a coffee mug that I obviously don’t need since I already have 3?

  25. Hahaha! I love your tips. You made me laugh out loud about your Keebler Elf-sized ironing board.

  26. StoriesAndSweetPotatoes

    I’m so horrified by the person who throws away the entire vacuum. I am so attached to my vacuum. I could never do that to Sparkles. Plus he doesn’t use bags because he is the shit.

  27. I let my cats and dog eat everything I drop on the kitchen floor. It’s waaaay easier than sweeping. Also, it’s environmentally friendly. Ok…fine, when they drop a bomb in the litter box, that’s not so friendly. But, y’all get my point.

  28. I don’t do any kind of ironing. In fact, these days if it says it needs to be ironed, I don’t buy it. Or dry cleaned. Unless it’s for a special occasion, and I don’t have many of those anymore.

    Also, I totally agree about the blinds thing. Cleaning those SUCKS.

    • Agreed. I don’t buy new clothes unless I have to because I’m frugal and have no fashion sesne, but when I do, I try and make sure they won’t need to be ironed. This pair of pants faked me out. Sigh…

  29. Totally agree with blind advice; I threw ours away after they got so dirty I couldn’t stand it. Also throw away pans when food gets stuck on them so bad I don’t want to wash them. Bottle of cleaner with bleach in it is best friend. Of course, I can’t spray it without getting it on my clothes somewhere. Which leads me to throwing away those clothes…which leads me to Target….

    • I can see the pan thing as well, as non-stick pans seldom adhere to their job description (pun intended. Ha.) However, I was given two very nice pans for Christmas that will probably outlive me and haven’t stuck yet. It’s only been a couple weeks–young love–but it looks promising.

  30. When we bought our house, we needed window treatments for every window. I screamed NO! MINI! BLINDS! until my husband could coax me out of my manic state with a cookie and shoulder rub.

    Needless to say, I’m proud to have a mini-blind-less home. Come by any time & bask its messiness.

    Also: I don’t wear clothes that need ironing, either. Unless they are too tight for me, because once I put them on they’ll stretch out and appear ironed. Which is obviously like winning the Shortcut Lottery.

  31. I have to agree with most of what you said. I could never understand bagless vacuum cleaners. I wouldn’t want to see all the dirt left on the plastic cup after it’s emptied.

    I can, however, help with the ‘ironing’. of your pants. Get a spray bottle and spray them lightly with water all over and then throw them in the dryer. Take them out as soon as the cycle is ended and they should have relatively less wrinkles than before. You’re welcome.

  32. The facking mini blinds kill me.
    If I had a bazillion dollars I would just buy new ones…or rather…I’d buy someone to do it for me and all the housecleaning. So much easier that way.
    PS. I live just across the “ditch” in Canada from the D.

  33. I love new shower curtain liners. Much easier to replace it than clean it! And I would have a much nicer wardrobe if I would just iron it. Not sure why, but I can’t stand ironing.

  34. Hey Abby, You were (once again!) one of the top 5 links at #findingthefunny. We’re featuring you on Wednesday – and I’ve pinned this to the Finding the Funny board on Pinterest. Thanks for linking up!

  35. OMG Dirty mini blinds. Buy more? Perfection.

  36. Holy shit the blinds. That’s what I told my husband–I’m not cleaning these, I’ll just buy new ones. I don’t even know HOW you clean them (especially without that tool that I didn’t even know existed to begin with..) So they will stay dirty until we move, then I will buy new ones. Same goes for the broken ones. I’m not buying new ones until we move, or our dumbass dog and cat stop breaking them.

    My mom wouldn’t buy me clothes that were “ironers.” I’d pull things from the rack and then be told no based on the fact that they would be worn once, put in “The Ironing Basket,” (i.e. black hole) and by the time they were seen again, I’d have outgrown them. Not much has changed. I have a pile of shirts in my closet that I can’t find the motivation to iron. Ironing is bullshit. And I even have a grown-up sized ironing board.

  37. I found that when you take a throwaway shaving razor and shave your body first where a band-aid has to stick, you can then take the same razor and wiggle it in your Polident solution to remove the hairs; and the razor will be ready for the next morning’s shave.

Talk to me

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s