DEAR HELOISE: Could you tell me the advantages and disadvantages of different kinds of cutting board surfaces? Thanks!

— Joe S., via email

Hi, Joe! Happy to! The U.S. Department of Agriculture (www.usda.gov) has good information on food safety and cutting boards. Both wood and plastic boards are OK, but keep one for raw meat, including beef, poultry and seafood, and another for veggies and bread. This will help prevent cross-contamination.

To keep clean, wash with hot, soapy water, and sanitize with 1 tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water. Immerse the board in the bleach water for 10 minutes.

When the board develops grooves from cutting, replace it.

— Heloise

Know the date

DEAR HELOISE: I enjoy your handy hints. I take a marker pen and put the date on condiments and other dry goods when I open each product. This way, I know when to toss them if I’ve held on to them too long, especially items in the fridge.

— Colleen, Hemet, Calif.

Letter of laughter

DEAR HELOISE: I was at lunch with my girlfriend, and she was bemoaning that she had to go home and clean house. I said: “Why clean it? It will just get dirty again!”

— Lorraine L., Louisiana

Ha! Actually, similar to one of my mother’s tenets: Don’t stress too much about housework. It will always be there!

— Heloise

Keeping crackers

DEAR HELOISE: Oyster crackers should be put in a zippered bag! They fall all over the pantry floor in those thin plastic bags that are now used, and they stay fresher in my zippered bag.

— Ruth E., Valparaiso, Ind.

Stain cessation

Dear Readers: Do you know the three golden rules of stain cessation?

They are soon, slow and several: get to the stain as soon as possible, work at it slowly, and you may need several applications. The longer it sits, the harder it is to get out. Some stains are more stubborn than others.

When using a spray-type laundry stain remover, turn the stained item inside out and spray the stain from the “wrong” side.

I’ve compiled my best hints for stain removal, using products you probably have in your home already, in my eight-page Heloise’s Handy Stain Guide for Clothing. To order it, go to www.Heloise.com or send a long, stamped (71 cents), self-addressed envelope, along with $5, to: Heloise/Stain Guide, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5001.

— Heloise

Send hints to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000, or Heloise@Heloise.com.