… the “zipper merge.” With all the road construction going on, we all would be so much better off if drivers learned about this.

– Diana C., via email

Diana, I’d be happy to pass on this information. Readers, imagine this: A highway lane is closed up ahead with the requisite signs alerting you. Do you immediately move over, or do you wait until the lane closure is upon you? The zipper merge is the preferred move. Lower your speed but wait until you come upon the actual closure (cones, arrows, etc.), and then alternate with the vehicle next to you, like the teeth of a zipper, to become one lane.

This has been proven to reduce traffic backups and congestion, and it creates a feeling of justice and equity that no one is getting unfairly ahead of anyone else.

– Heloise


If your toothbrush is older than four months and if the bristles are visibly frayed or falling out, the American Dental Association recommends that you replace it. It’s also recommended that you use a soft-bristle toothbrush and brush your teeth for at least two minutes twice a day.

– Heloise


I stepped in gasoline at the gas station. Can you tell me how to remove the smell from my rubber-soled shoes?

– Vicki B., Warsaw, Ind.

Vicki, the first thing I’m going to tell you is what not to do. Never put any article with gasoline or petrol products in the washer or dryer.

For rubber-soled sneakers, fill a dishpan with hot water, a glug of dishwashing detergent and a cup of baking soda. Stir until the baking soda dissolves. Add the shoes and let them soak for several hours — preferably overnight. Rinse thoroughly and air dry, with paper toweling inside to maintain the shape of the shoe.

FYI: To remove strong odors from dirty clothes, add ½ cup baking soda to the rinse cycle. The bad odors should rinse away.

– Heloise


I’m so tired of having hairspray all over my bathroom counter and mirrors, but my bathroom is so tiny that there isn’t much I can do to prevent this problem. Got any hints for me to solve this sticky situation?

– Ashley in Nevada

Ashley, step into the shower and spray your hair. The rest of the bathroom stays spray-free and unsticky.

– Heloise


I live in an apartment with a very small closet. On a clothes hanger, I slid a key ring over the hook where I hang another hanger. This way, I can hang a matching outfit, such as a blouse and slacks together. This saves room, and I have a coordinated outfit ready to go.

– Dee Dee N.,

Citrus Heights, Calif.