Dear Heloise: We have three indoor cats, and they have two litter pans, which we keep clean at all times. I was about to use bleach to clean out the litter pans when my husband stopped me. He claims that the ammonia from our male’s urine should never be mixed with bleach. If you’d heard him, you’d think it would cause an explosion! Is it dangerous to use bleach when cleaning a cat pan? — Joyce D., Nashville, Tennessee

Joyce, it might not cause an explosion, but it is still dangerous. Ammonia and bleach when mixed together can produce a gas that is dangerous to inhale and has occasionally been known to be fatal. Also, never store bleach with a bottle of ammonia. Always store these two substances in separate locations just to be on the safe side. — Heloise



P.O. Box 795001

San Antonio, TX 78279-5001

Fax: 1-210-HELOISE


Winter home inspection

Dear Heloise: We’re into much cooler temperatures now, and heating bills will go up if you don’t stop the heat from escaping your house. Since I do home inspections, I thought I’d remind people of ways to save on heating bills:

— It goes without saying that you need to check all weather stripping on your doors and windows. Replace that stripping if needed.

— Cover all pipes that are exposed to the elements. This includes pipes that might be in your attic. Some of the newer home builders run waterlines through the attics now.

— Inspect your roof for damage that might allow cold air, water or snow into your attic.

— Have a professional inspect your heating system to make sure it’s heating properly. If your heating system needs repairs, it’s better to get them done now rather than waiting until spring. — Walter J., Royal Oak, Michigan

Walter, I’d like to add that this is a good time to have a chimney sweeper come in and inspect your chimney if you have a fireplace. If you can, you might also want to have your vents cleaned by a professional. And don’t neglect to change out your furnace filters every month. — Heloise

It’s for the birds

Dear Heloise: My sister stored birdseed in her pantry so she could fill the three bird feeders in her yard. It wasn’t long before bugs infiltrated her stored seeds. Instead of tossing it in the trash, as so many people do, she scattered it on the ground in the areas where her bird feeders were located. The birds don’t care about bugs and probably enjoy the extra nourishment. — Ashley R., Oak Hill, West Virginia

Lights on cars

Dear Heloise: I got a ticket yesterday for having a burnt-out taillight. It’s important to keep up with things like that by turning on your lights and looking to see on a wall or door if both lights are reflected on that space.

You can also have a friend stand in front or behind your car to make certain all of your lights are working properly. It will save you the expense of a ticket. — Elroy W., Dime Box, Texas

Recommended For You

— Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001, or you can fax it to 1-210-HELOISE or email it to I can’t answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column.