Dear Heloise: I enjoy reading your column in our local paper, the Orange County (Calif.) Register.

Although I agree regarding your advice that shoppers don’t have to leave a Zip code when asked (and that there may be marketing reasons behind it), there may be other valid reasons as well.

In California, we pay sales/use tax based on where an item is going to be used. Retailers who do business in several counties need to charge sales tax accordingly. For example, my in-laws bought a car at the same dealership I did, located in Orange County. But, since my in-laws live in Los Angeles County, they paid 8.25 percent sales tax, where I paid 7.75 percent. So, the ZIP code may be used to determine what sales tax to charge for the purchase. -- Sofia P. in California

Each state, county and city can be different. When making a regular purchase at a store (not a major purchase, such as an automobile), unless you are using a credit card that requires a Zip code for security purposes, you do NOT have to give the store your Zip code. There is no reason to give your Zip code if you are buying a few things at the drugstore or department store, especially if you are paying cash! -- Heloise


Dear Readers: Know how to travel safely with spare batteries? If the batteries have been removed from the original packaging, don’t let them roll around loose in a purse or bag. They can short-circuit if they make contact with metal, such as coins or keys, or each other. Place a piece of tape over each end of the battery. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: Using a black permanent marker to blot out addresses on documents before they are thrown away might not always be a good idea. The imprint can be visible when held at a certain angle, or the impression and indentations on the paper may be legible.

With the shredder broken, I obscured the name and cut the paper with a pair of scissors. -- Margarette, via e-mail


Dear Heloise: I have used this hint for years in my car. It saves the floor mats, and when you trade in the car, the carpet is clean, along with the mats.

I use bathmats, with waterproof backing, to cover the original car mats. Mud, dirt and spills from children and grandchildren will not go through. Take the mats out, shake and wash when they are dirty. -- Claudette G. in Texas


Dear Heloise: I have a hint for cleaning all the edges of your carpets and furniture. I bought a new toilet brush, and now I can just walk along the carpeting with the brush. It cleans up all the “fuzzies” that seem to collect next to the walls where the carpet edges are. The brush fits great under furniture and most other hard-to-reach places. Cleaning is over in a matter of minutes. -- Sherrie G., via e-mail

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, or e-mail it to

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