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Helpful Hints

by Heloise | September 21, 2021 at 1:48 a.m.

DEAR HELOISE: Speaking as someone who's been in business for over 57 years, I have a suggestion if you have a problem with the product or service you received from a small business.

First of all, don't take it out on the person who answers the phone. Calmly ask for the manager or owner. If it's a problem with the product, remember the store didn't manufacture it. Say something like, "I realize it's not your fault, but "

If it is a problem with the service or installation, say something like, "I'm sure you didn't mean to, however " Remember, you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. The nicer you are, the more likely your problem will be resolved to everyone's satisfaction.

-- Sally Rice

DEAR READER: This advice is spot-on. Have all of your information at hand -- bills, receipts or emails -- about the problem you are having. Discuss the issue calmly to work it out and get the result you want.

DEAR READERS: If you use a curling iron, it's likely that hairspray will accumulate on it. Here's how to remove that sticky spray. First, after using the curling iron, unplug it and allow it to cool. Then use one of these two ways to get the spray off:

  1. Pour a couple of drops of rubbing alcohol on an old washcloth or terry-cloth towel. Wipe over the surface of the iron. Then clean off with a water-dampened cloth.

  2. Make a paste of equal parts baking soda and water. Rub this mixture over the surface and wipe off with a slightly wet cloth.

Baking soda is so useful around your home, and it saves you money. FYI: Sprinkle a bit of baking soda onto your pet's bedding to keep it smelling fresh in between washings!

DEAR HELOISE: While on my honeymoon in Hawaii, we had a two-hour layover before boarding our plane. We decided to take a walk on the beach. We put our luggage and valuables in the trunk. Everything was stolen. While making a police report, the policeman informed us that the trunk is much easier to break into than the interior of the car. I now carry a towel the color of my floor mats. I place my valuables on the floor of the passenger side and cover them with the towel. Live and learn.

-- Judy Feldmeth, via email

DEAR READERS: When you are going to boil hot water for pasta and you don't want it to boil over, here's what to do. Rub a bit of vegetable oil or butter around the inside top inch or two of the pot before you add the water. And here's another hint passed down by our grandmothers. Put a wooden spoon across the pot to stop it from boiling over. But always pay close attention to a boiling pot.

DEAR HELOISE: When packing items for disaster relief donation, please put clothing in waterproof, sealed bags, or sealed bags inside of boxes. Volunteers will be handling these donations in not always ideal conditions. Put items in a sealed bag and then test drop it. Imagine that a volunteer will be putting this onto a truck, in the rain. Will the packing hold up under these conditions? Put a label on the box or bag, and then put clear packing tape over the label. If you use contractor bags, you can twist the top and knot it. Be sure to label the outside with tape about the contents. Thank you!

-- Natalie Zanin, via email

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email

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