Making the Most of Your Appliances
If you think of your dishwasher, microwave, and coffee maker as one-trick ponies, you may be surprised to learn that they're actually multitaskers. In fact, most appliances in your home can do double—if not triple—duty. Click through to discover some unexpected ways you can put your household appliances to use.
Defrost Food in the Washer
It may sound counterintuitive, but placing frozen foods in your washing machine and running it on the cold delicate cycle with a low water level may actually use less water and work faster than defrosting in the sink. Seal food items in a ziplock bag, and leave the lid of the washing machine open to prevent the spin cycle from engaging.
Straighten Vinyl Floor Tiles
When vinyl flooring tiles curl and warp, the solution could be as close as your laundry room. Grab the iron, plug it in, put it on a high setting, cover the warped area with aluminum foil, and then run the iron over the foil. The heat will soften the tile so you can pull it up, lay down new adhesive, and reaffix the tile. Afterward, weigh the spot down with heavy books to help the new glue stick.
Sure, your dishwasher gets your dinner plates clean, but did you know that it can also cook the food that goes on them? Just place some salmon on a piece of foil, squeeze some lemon over it, add a dash of salt and pepper, seal it up, and place the packet on the upper rack of your dishwasher. The slow, steamy heat of a wash cycle will poach it perfectly. Leave the detergent out, though, or you'll have soapy salmon!
Soften Up Honey
Old honey has a tendency to crystallize, which makes it virtually impossible to drizzle or spread. Before you ditch your old honey for a new bottle, try zapping it in the microwave. First, remove the lid from the jar and place the jar in the microwave. (If the honey isn't in a microwavable container, transfer it into a microwave-safe dish.) Heat on medium power for 30 seconds, and stir. Repeat at 30-second intervals, stirring each time, until the honey is soft and liquid again.
Brew Some Good Eats
You've probably never thought about it before, but your coffee maker actually has three cooking modules: the burner, which can be used as a grill; the basket, which can be used as a steamer; and the pot, which can cook anything from rice to salmon.
Remove Wax with a Blow Dryer
If you've spilled wax on furniture, scrape away as much as you can without damaging the finish, then go get your blow dryer. Place a length of paper towel over the remaining wax, then blow over it with high heat from the dryer. The towel will absorb the wax, leaving you with a clean surface. The same trick works for crayon marks on walls.
Give Home Decor a Quick Rinse
Rather than having to go around the entire house, dusting and wiping down every last piece of home decor, send washable items like glass lampshades, cabinet hardware, and even throw pillows through a cycle to get rid of the dust, grime, and germs.
Sanitize Sports Gear
Sanitize stinky and sweaty sports equipment in the dishwasher. Shin guards, knee pads, mouth guards, and more can all go in the dishwasher, on the top rack. Just be sure to skip the dry cycle, and towel them off yourself.
Get Rid of Slobber
You clean your own dishes and sanitize your kids’ toys, and you should do the same for your pets. Every so often, pop the food bowls, plastic and rubber toys, and even the leash and collar (as long as they're not genuine leather) into the dishwasher for a quick run to get rid of the slobber and germs that collect on these items.
Speed Up Cleanup
On top of the daily wear and tear lunch boxes experience, they're also subject to spills and leaks that leave behind sticky, smelly messes. Rather than having to deal with the gunk yourself, put lunch boxes in the washing machine on a cold-water cycle with a load of towels, and they'll come out fresh and ready for school.
"Namaslay" Sweat Away
Notice a stinky smell while planking on your yoga mat? Think about the last time you really cleaned it. While a quick wipe down between workouts is fine, every once in a while you should give your mat a thorough cleaning to rid it of sweat and bacteria. So, toss in your yoga mat the next time you run a load of towels or sheets. Just make sure to take it out before the spin cycle and let it air-dry.
Cleaning every nook and cranny of each individual Lego brick in your house would be a tedious task. Instead, throw the fingerprint- and germ-covered bricks in a mesh bag or a tightly tied pillowcase and put it in the wash on a cool-water cycle. When the cycle has finished, spread the bricks out on a towel to air-dry.
Serve It Up Hot
Add a touch of luxury to your dinner routine with minimal effort! Warm up your plates before you dish out food by popping them in the toaster oven for just a few minutes. This way, the meal you laboriously prepared won't cool too quickly.
Strip Away Paint
Got a little too close to the cabinet knobs while painting? That’s OK! You can use your slow cooker to get the paint off easily and quickly. Put the items in the slow cooker, cover with water (add liquid detergent for tough, dried-on paint), and let it sit overnight on high. The next day, once the pieces are cool to the touch, scrub them with a toothbrush to get rid of the paint.
Crush It in the Grinder
Save yourself the trouble of pulling out the food processor when you just need to grind up a small quantity of food. Instead, use your coffee grinder to process nuts, graham crackers, pieces of bread, or other ingredients into a fine powder.
Suck Up Dust
Dust loves to settle on top of ceiling fan blades—which is fine until you turn the fan on and dust starts blowing around the room. When it's time to clean off the blades, don't grab a rag or a duster; you'll just end up pushing dust onto the floor (or all over you). Instead, clean off the blades with a vacuum attachment.
Freeze Gum Out
Stepped in gum? Rather than trying to scrape off the sticky mess, put the shoe in a plastic bag and stash it in the fridge for a few hours. When you take it out, the gum should come right off.
Shred It in the Mixer
The stand mixer isn’t just great at creaming butter. The paddle attachment of this beloved kitchen staple can also be used to shred chicken, pork, or beef.
Carve Up Some Crafts
You may pull out your electric knife only on Thanksgiving, but there are plenty of other times you might want to plug it in. For instance, you can use the high-powered knife to carve foam for your next flower arrangement or upholstery project.
Spice Up Your Life
Use your slow cooker to create a liquid potpourri to fill a room with pleasant scents. Place your favorite spices and fruits into your slow cooker, cover them slightly with water, and set the appliance on low. Leave the lid off and enjoy the simmering fragrances.
Iron It Out
It may have "waffle" in its name, but your waffle maker can churn out much more than brunch food. Give it a whirl with brownies, quesadillas, hash browns, and pressed sandwiches, just to name a few tasty treats.
Give Yourself a Spa Treatment
If you’ve ever been to a spa or salon, then you’ve experienced the calming effects of a warm towel. Replicate that soothing indulgence at home by rolling up some hand towels, placing them in your slow cooker, and covering them with enough water to keep them damp. Set the appliance on low, and let the towels sit for about two hours. When they're ready, remove with tongs, apply towels as you wish, and relax.
Blast Off Stickers
There’s nothing like buying something new only to be stuck picking away at the price sticker to get it off. The next time you need to pry off a sticker, first blast it with heat from a blow dryer. You should then be able to easily peel it off.
Keep Pictures Perfect
Nowadays, we have digital copies of most of our photos, so even if we bother printing them, we always know where to find the original. But photos in old albums are often the only copies left, and we need to handle them carefully. If you’re flipping through family albums and a few images are stuck to the pages, don’t panic and tug them roughly apart. First use a blow dryer to warm the pages so you can loosen the photos without ripping or damaging them.
Produce Fast Flavor
Speed through the process of drying herbs by using the microwave. Pat fresh herbs dry, making sure all water has been removed. Next, pick the leaves off and place them between paper towels. Put the herbs and towels on a microwave-safe plate, and heat for about a minute. Take the plate out to check if the herbs are fully dried. If not, continue to heat them in brief, 20-second spurts.
Re-Stick a Stamp
With the price of stamps always on the rise, you’d hate to waste one because of bad placement. If you didn’t position a stamp the way you wanted to, try patting a few drops of water on the stamp and putting the envelope in the microwave for 20 seconds on the lowest power setting. This should loosen the adhesive, making it easier to peel off the stamp and try again.
Dyeing fabric is a trickier project than most realize. To make the process quicker and smoother, let your microwave help! Mix the dye and warm water (enough to allow the item you’re dyeing to be completely submerged) in a microwave-safe container. Next, soak the article of clothing in either vinegar or water—it depends on the type of dye you are using—and wring it out. Submerge the article in the dye mixture, and cover it with plastic wrap. Put it in the microwave for no more than a minute, keeping careful watch to make sure the wrap doesn’t melt. When the process is finished, follow the directions that came with the dye to properly wash and dry the item.
Deep Clean Your Mattress
Sure, you clean your sheets, but when was the last time you cleaned your mattress? Don't keep putting fresh sheets on top of a mattress covered with dust and allergens. The next time you change sheets, run the brush or upholstery attachment of your vacuum over the top and sides of the mattress, paying special attention to crevices, seams, and other detritus-collecting spots. While you're at it, vacuum any pillows that can’t safely go in the washer and dryer.
Save Your Seeds
If you don't use up all your seeds during the gardening season, you may be able to save them for next year! Pat them completely dry and store them in the freezer, in an airtight container or ziplock bag. Label your seeds so you'll know what they are and when they were frozen, and give them time to thaw before you plant them.
Cook Up Some Soap
If you love sniffing the handmade soaps in gift stores, why not try making some yourself? You can even whip up a batch in your handy slow cooker. For a basic recipe, use 16 ounces of coconut oil, 16 ounces of olive oil, a helping of lye, and the essential oils of your choice. Put all the ingredients in the slow cooker and turn it on. Stir the mixture carefully, wait for it to thicken, then spoon it into molds. Be extremely careful handling the lye, and make sure it is kept out of reach of children.
A humidifier is a must-have for combating dry air inside the house, but before you run out to the store to get another niche appliance, consider letting your slow cooker pinch-hit as one. For this simple hack, fill your slow cooker about three-quarters of the way with hot water, cover it with the lid, and turn it to the highest setting. After about 15 minutes, remove the lid and let the steam do its work.
Make Them Cold and Clean
Throwing your jeans in the washer and dryer too frequently causes them to fade and stretch. To get your denim clean without losing its shape, try putting it in the freezer, in a sealable bag. Exposure to the cold kills bacteria and removes odors while keeping the denim fresh and crisp.
Iron a Square Meal
It may not be the pros' go-to kitchen tool, but it works in a pinch. You can use your iron to make quesadillas, grilled cheese, and other toasted sandwiches. Wrap the sandwich in aluminum foil and press down for about 30 seconds. Carefully unwrap to check if it’s warm and if the filling has melted. If it’s not yet to your taste, wrap the sandwich back up and press down a few more times with the iron.
Rinse Off Garden Grime
Garden tools have it rough: They not only end up caked in dirt, but they also get exposed to chemicals and diseases. You can give some of your garden tools a more thorough cleaning by running them through the dishwasher. Place tools on the top rack along with small plastic plant pots, and put the bigger pots, rubber boots, and other tall accessories and supplies on the bottom.
Roast Beans in the Popcorn Popper
Pour raw coffee beans up to the max fill line of your popcorn maker, then turn on the machine. Place a bowl under the spout to catch the chaff. The beans will pop just like popcorn, and when they stop your coffee will be roasted! Experiment with different cook times to find the roast level that's best for you.
Whoever knew your home appliances could multitask so well?
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