Dear Readers: Today's SOUND OFF is about people who choose to remain childless:

"Dear Heloise: Years ago, when my husband and I got married in our late 20s, we decided we weren't going to have a family. No, we DON'T hate children. We're simply not 'child-oriented.' People with children keep saying, 'Oh, you don't know what you're missing.' That's true, because you can't miss what you never had.

"We applaud those who wanted a family and love their kids, but it just wasn't for us. We're not sorry we decided to skip having children, and we really wish family and friends would stop asking rude questions, such as 'If you didn't want kids, why did you get married?' Parenting isn't for everyone." -- Mike and Tara D., Nashville, Tenn.

Mike and Tara, you're right: "Parenting isn't for everyone." Lately, more and more couples are remaining childless. -- Heloise

FAST FACTS

Dear Readers: Here are some new uses for cotton balls:


Soak a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and gently dab an ink spot on your clothing. Allow it to air-dry, then dry-clean or wash the garment.
Got long fingernails? Stuff one or two cotton balls into the fingers of a rubber glove before cleaning to prevent puncturing the glove.
Soak cotton balls in white vinegar and place on water spots on your chrome fixtures.

-- Heloise

CLEANING WOODWORK

Dear Heloise: How can I clean my woodwork without breaking the bank? -- Nina A., Jupiter, Fla.

Nina, mix 1 part white vinegar with 2 parts water. Using a clean sponge, dip into the water/vinegar solution, wring out the excess water and wipe the woodwork. Dry the woodwork, then polish with a clean cloth. If you like this easy, effective method of cleaning, you'll love my pamphlet Heloise's Homemade Cleaning Solutions, which is full of household cleaning hints using everyday cleaners that you probably have at home and special formulas that are safe and inexpensive. Just send $5, along with a stamped (71 cents), self-addressed, long envelope, to: Heloise/Cleaning Solutions, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Or you can order it online at www.Heloise.com. FYI: Give those yucky sponges a weekly cleaning by tucking them between glasses or cups in the top rack of the dishwasher. -- Heloise

A HOSTESS IDEA

Dear Heloise: I read your informative articles in The Westfield News in Southwick, Mass. There was a hint by Janet H., of Park City, Utah, asking for hostess gift ideas to take with her when she plays cards. Here are a few suggestions:


Homemade cookies stacked in a cellophane bag tied with a ribbon
A potted plant that blooms
Pretty napkins
Notepaper
A good bottle of olive oil or balsamic vinegar

-- Rachel T., Southwick, Mass.

A GOOD 'GOO' QUESTION

Dear Heloise: How can I get that sticky goo from plants off my pruners? -- Irene M., Ionia, Mich.

Irene, spray your pruning shears with vegetable oil spray before use, and the goo will slide off. -- Heloise