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College-bound students aren't the only ones who can benefit from all the dorm products out there. This is a good time for anyone to pick up some nifty storage items (colorful crates, bins and baskets); whimsical clocks and desk lamps; sheet sets; bean bags; decorative and functional pillows, and more.

Those pop-up hampers you see everywhere are great for storing sweaters or stuffed animals, for example. Stacking drawers and cubes can be used almost everywhere. And why not pick up a colorful fleece throw or two for future gift-giving?

Cleaning tip

Here is one of the many simple tips you will find in "Green Clean: The Environmentally Sound Guide to Cleaning Your Home" by Linda Mason Hunter and Mikki Halpin (Melcher Media, $16.95): Run a cup of vinegar through the washing machine and dishwasher to keep them clean.

Make a splash

Keeping tiles and shower doors clean and spotless can be fun with one of the Cleaning Critters shower squeegees from Ettore.

The original rubber duckie design is now joined by four brand-new additions to the collection -- a dolphin and three tropical fish, each with cartoon-like features and a rubberized grip. Suggested retail is $8.99.

"Movies like 'Finding Nemo' and 'Shark Tales,' as well as 'SpongeBob SquarePants' and his ocean friends, demonstrate that children are fascinated with underwater critters," Nicole Smahlik, Ettore's marketing manger, said in a release. "We made shower squeegees fun so kids can clean and play at the same time."

Wal-Mart is one of the retailers that sells Ettore Cleaning Critters nationally, but the new additions to the line are still being introduced.

Let it shine

Here are some ideas for restoring that dingy brass kick plate on your front door, from Knight Ridder Newspapers:

*If the kick plate is unlacquered solid brass or brass plate, you can try cleaning it with a commercial brass polish. Choose a gentle product such as Wenol, Flitz or Simichrome, available at some hardware and auto-parts stores.

*If the kick plate is solid brass and it's lacquered, a brass cleaner could ruin it. About your only option is to have the brass refinished, which may not be worth the expense for a kick plate.

Remember, too, that sometimes kick plates look like brass -- but aren't. If that's the case, you can try a metal cleaner, but it could be the color has just worn off.

And finally . . .

"My idea of a superwoman is someone who scrubs her own floors." -- Bette Midler

Compiled by Home & Style Editor Susan Martin from News and wire sources.

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