Dear Readers: What do you do with all of those WIRE HANGERS hanging in your closet? Most recycling centers will not take them because of the protective plastic coating on them.

The Drycleaning and Laundry Institute launched a nationwide campaign to reuse or recycle as many metal hangers as possible. Just last year, 25 million hangers were saved from going into landfills. Dry cleaners can sign up for this program, in which they agree to reuse hangers when possible and recycle others when they can.

You can go to for a list of cleaners that participate in this program. They will accept wire hangers and prevent tons (literally, 750 tons last year) of steel from ending up in landfills. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I have a large kitchen garbage can and had trouble getting a full bag of garbage out. The full bag against the side of the can always created a sort of vacuum.

I put a couple of old phone books in the bottom of the can. Now, when I pull out the bag, the weight of the phone books makes the can slide off. I change the books when I get new phone books. Since I started putting the books in the bottom, I have never had to hold on to the can while taking out the garbage bag. -- Brian S. in Oregon


Dear Heloise: Just a quick hint for household plants while on vacation: I take an empty, clean soda or water bottle and fill it with clean, cold water. I insert the bottle, upside down, into the dirt of the plant. I give it a little shove so it stands straight up on its own. Water will slowly release when needed. (Heloise here: This will work only for a few days.) I do this for my outside plants as well. -- C.R. in Indiana


Dear Heloise: I have a hint for keeping little ones out of cabinets, and you don’t have to buy a thing. Many of us have old belts that we used to get with a new pair of pants. Run a belt down through the handles, tighten as needed and secure it. They can be cut to length, if necessary. The soft finish of a belt is less likely to damage the finish on the cabinets, too. -- Leah, via e-mail


Dear Heloise: I use a manual can opener that eventually sticks and makes it very difficult to turn the handle. I spray the gears with nonstick cooking spray, and the opener turns with ease. -- Joanie, via e-mail


Dear Heloise: I like to put iced tea in one of those tall, plastic containers with the straw and lid. It was always “sweaty” and drippy, so I got an old sock, cut out the bottom and stretched it around the base. Works wonderfully, as it absorbs the moisture and keeps the bottom dry. -- Diane J. in California

Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE or e-mail it to Please include your city and state.

, King Features Syndicate