Have a messy outdoor job you need to tackle? Need a surefire way to keep mice out of your outdoor storage? Or how about those crummy, cheap backpacks that don't even last through the school year? Today, your fellow readers have tips for how to deal with those annoying problems and so much more!

STURDY BACKPACKS

Dear Mary: My sons had terrible trouble with backpacks. Even the expensive ones would not last an entire school season -- that's how hard they were on them. Then one day, we went into the Army/Navy surplus store. We found military backpacks (rucksacks) that wore like iron! In fact, the boys carried them for years -- all the way through college. They thought they were very cool. -- Carole

MICE REPELLANT

Dear Mary: While covering my '49 Ford for the winter storage, I put a dryer sheet on the floor in the front-seat area, one on the floor of the rear seats, one in the trunk and one under the hood. Mice hate them. No damage to wires or upholstery. -- Larry

TRASHY APRON

Dear Mary: If you have a particularly dirty job to do like cleaning the outdoor grill, taking down dirty window screens or hosing down the patio furniture before storing away for winter, make yourself a disposable apron: Take a large garbage bag; cut holes for your head and arms; and slip it over your clothes. You may look a little weird, but you'll protect your clothes and save yourself a lot of time and trouble later. -- Roy

STORAGE MAP

Dear Mary: If your storage space is limited and you have to stack several boxes on top of one another, make a diagram on an index card and keep it in a handy place. When you go to look for something, you'll know exactly where it is. Store items that you're more likely to use often toward the front, with less-used items at the back. -- Lucille

UPHOLSTERY CLEANER

Dear Mary: If you need to remove spilled soda pop from your car interior, try a 50-50 mixture of white vinegar and water, and an old toothbrush. When I had a can of pop explode in my car, not even the professional car detailers could tell me how to get it out. I figured the above mixture couldn't make it any worse, so I tried it and saw amazing results. -- Bonnie

PICKLED ANTS

Dear Mary: A couple of weeks ago, I discovered that plain white vinegar is an excellent ant killer. Simply spray it on them. There is very little odor, and what there is disappears quickly. I have had a longtime problem with ants in my kitchen and bathroom, and I do not like to use insecticides for many reasons. Now I don't have to worry about them. -- Ann

GOOD AND CHEAP

Dear Mary: Another recipe for a good glass and window cleaner is 45 percent water, 45 percent rubbing alcohol and 10 percent household ammonia. Exact measurements are not important. Put it in a clearly marked spray bottle. This is as good as any product you can buy. -- Cheryl

SOLEPLATE SOLUTION

Dear Mary: Here's a great way to get that sticky brown residue from the soleplate of your iron. Mix baking soda and water into a paste. Dip a damp cloth into it, and rub it gently on the surface. Clean it off with a dry cloth. -- Kim

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