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I can't think of a better day than today to reach into the mailbag and pull out a few great tips submitted by -- you guessed it -- my great (loyal, faithful, awesome) readers!

Pet-friendly bedspread: As the owner of two cats, I finally found a wonderful bedspread with fabric durable enough to withstand the constant removal of fur and chafing of paws. Outdoor Living Tablecloths makes custom outdoor tablecloths using Sunbrella material. Following the directions for taking measurements, I ordered a custom tablecloth bedspread for my queen-size bed and have been using it for seven months. It has held up beautifully; it cleans like a dream; and for sheer long-lasting quality, I think the price is a great deal.

-- Robin

Saving the dishwasher: I never used a rinse aid in my dishwasher, because we live in an area that doesn't have particularly hard water and leave water spots on glassware. I learned the hard way that rinse aids (like Finish Jet-Dry) have another more important use: They help keep the dishwasher drain line running clean. I found this out from the repairman when our dishwasher wasn't draining. The line was completely clogged. Yuck!

-- Elizabeth

Smelly microwave: Wipe down a smelly microwave oven with a weak solution of water and Head & Shoulders shampoo. Just fill a spray bottle with water, and add a couple of drops of the shampoo. Head & Shoulders shampoo will get the stink out of anything. Try it.

-- Carol

Pillow protectors: I just read your cleaning procedure for stained pillows. Why not avoid the dirt and stains in the first place? I am aware of how disgusting pillows can become, so I buy waterproof fabric zippered pillow protectors from Walmart. They're inexpensive, and they protect your pillows from equally disgusting dust mites. With a pillowcase on top, my pillows look brand-new.

-- Rita

Silicone stench: The easiest way to remove the odors from silicone (ice cube trays, the gasket on your Instant Pot) is to bake it. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees (not one degree higher), and then set the clean-but-still-stinky silicone items on a sheet tray and into the oven. After about 20 minutes, give them the smell test. If there is still any trace of a lingering odor, return them to the oven for another 10 minutes. Provided these items are 100 percent silicone (that IP Gasket is, for sure), this will take care of the lingering stench of garlic and onions.

-- Cate

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