If you’re anything like me, you still remember the first apartment you rented that came with a dishwasher; after years of washing dishes by hand in the sink, the feeling of kicking your feet up and relaxing after dinner while the dishwasher did all the cleanup was pure magic. 

But chances are good that over the years you’ve started to take your dishwasher for granted. You load it up with dirty dishes, hit the wash button, and walk away; you’ve forgotten how amazing this appliance really is. Prepare to be amazed again, because your dishwasher can do a whole lot more than clean plates.

One of the things we most often take for granted is that the dishwasher not only cleans dishes, but (many models) sanitize them as well. Those that come with a “sanitize” setting get extremely hot so that they can kill any germs that might be present. While this is a great feature for cleaning cups, dishes, and silverware, it’s also useful for a number of household items. 

Many plastic baby and toddler toys (toys that are constantly in a child’s mouth) are dishwasher safe and can be sanitized in this way. Even plastic makeup brushes and hairbrushes (be sure to remove any excess hair first) can be cleaned this way.

Crazier still is the idea that you can cook food in your dishwasher. Believe it or not, many foil-wrapped foods can be steamed to perfection using the hot temperatures inside your dishwasher. The key here, obviously, is to wrap the food well to prevent it from becoming water-logged, and don’t use any soap. If your oven is full, items like lasagna can be cooked in your dishwasher in one to two cycles.

And, that’s just the beginning.