Dear Heloise: Your column had good advice to annually review your medicine cabinet. At the close, you mentioned you should toss expired or compromised medications.

However, you did not mention that many cities have medication disposal days, annual take-back days or permanent medication disposal sites at local pharmacies. Inappropriate disposal (and storage) of meds can result in children and pets getting into them, tainting our water supplies and more. Please advise people to check their local opportunities to properly dispose of unwanted or expired medications, including over-the-counter meds. Thank you. — Camille Garrison, Fort Wayne, Ind.

Camille, many cities and states have take-back programs for disposing of unwanted, unused or expired medications. Check with your city. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration hosts a no-questions-asked National Prescription Drug Take Back Day twice a year in many cites at authorized drop-off locations. — Heloise

Household smells

Dear Readers: Odors in your house need a bit of freshening? Grab a bottle of vinegar to do the job. Remove cooking odors by boiling a cup of water in a pan on the stove with 1 to 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Paint smells can be absorbed by putting out a small bowl of white vinegar. And you can make your house smell good by sprinkling a bit of cinnamon in a pot of water with several tablespoons of white vinegar. Allow this to boil, and it should give your home a nice uplifting scent. — Heloise

Cleaning microfiber blankets

Dear Heloise: Is there a good way to launder microfiber plush blankets so they smell fresh, even after the dogs have been lounging on them? I wash mine two or three times with liquid detergent and a splash of vinegar, yet the funk remains. Kicking the dogs off the bed is not an option. Thanks. — Victoria Borland, via email

Victoria, before you wash a microfiber blanket, read the care label and find out the fabric content. If the label states that it's 100 percent synthetic fabric, wash the blanket in the washing machine on warm with mild detergent and a cold rinse. Do not use fabric softeners or bleach. And be careful of cotton, because microfiber does attract lint. Try putting the blanket in the dryer on low heat for a short time, because microfiber dries quickly. — Heloise

Customer service calls

Dear Heloise: For the person who is frustrated when calling customer service and not getting a live person: Years ago, when I was working in a doctor's office, I spent a lot of time on hold or dealing with automated voices as I navigated my way through various menus and prompts trying to get prior authorization, insurance information or some other kind of help for my patients.

One day, as I was waiting and listening to the same speech yet again, I muttered "yadda yadda yadda." The automated voice immediately came on and informed me it did not understand my response and transferred me to a real person who might be able to help me.

I laughed, but realized I was on to something. Now when I reach one of those menus where I have to speak to the automated voice and answer question after question just trying to get to what I need, I just say something nonsensical, like "snickerdoodle," "yabbadabbadoo," "fluffernutter" or whatever silly syllables pop into my head. Sometimes, I have to repeat my crazy talk, but 99 percent of the time, this gets me transferred to a real person. This has worked for me for 15 years. I'm hoping they don't fix it now that I've let my secret out. — Getting Around Them in Pennsylvania

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