You spend your day multitasking, so why shouldn't your kitchen appliances juggle more than one job, too? Dishwashers can poach salmon. Freezers can wash your clothes. Microwaves can help you squeeze orange juice.
Granted, there are risks to hacking home appliances -- especially the fact that it could render your warranty moot, warns Doug Rogers, president of Mr. Appliance, a national appliance service company.
"People can certainly get more out of their appliances, but they need to be very careful when doing so," Rogers says. "A warranty can sometimes be voided if an appliance was used for a purpose other than its original designation.
"Also, the odds of an appliance breaking is much higher when using it for a different purpose, so it's best to assess if the outcome is really worth the risk."
Sometimes, though, it truly is! Check out these rather awesome tricks hiding in your kitchen appliances, and judge for yourself.
Dishwashers are, by far, the most versatile appliance in your house. If you skip the detergent, you can do a whole lot more than just get your plates clean:
Poach salmon: Wrap the seasoned salmon steak or fillet in aluminum foil, pressing edges to make sure the packet is waterproof. Place it on the top rack, and cook -- er, run -- on the regular cycle.
Clean and cook potatoes: Place the spuds on the top rack, and turn on the rinse-only cycle. They'll come out clean and mashable. Honest.
Disinfect smelly sponges and wash rags: Place them in the dishwasher, and run those stinkers through a regular cycle with your dishes. This time, add detergent.
Clean and shine garden tools: Dirty garden tools can spread germs and bacteria throughout your garden. Place your metal garden tools and shears on the top rack, and run through a regular cycle. Don't try cleaning eating utensils at the same time, though.
More things your dishwasher can scrub
- Baseball caps
- Metal switch plates and outlet covers
- Range hood grilles
- Metal vent covers
- A gazillion hard-plastic kids toys
- Plastic sports equipment and pads
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Toss out those ice-burned bags of frozen zucchini to make room in your freezer for these secondary uses:
Freshen denim: If you don't want your favorite jeans to fade, place them in a plastic bag and stick them in the freezer for a week. Yes, your loved ones may think you've lost your mind. But the cold will kill germs and freshen the jeans without cooking them in hot water, which fades colors.
Life extender: Candles will burn slower, hosiery will evade runs longer, and NiMH and NiCd batteries will last longer when you store them in your freezer.
Steel wool: Instead of watching steel wool rust in a sink holder, place it in a plastic bag and store it in the freezer. The steel wool will stay free of rust longer.
Ice cube trays: They're not just for water anymore. These little compartmentalizers are great for freezing single portions of pesto and making coffee cubes that cool but don't water down your iced coffee drinks. Bonus: Freeze grapes in a plastic bag, then throw a few into white wine for a quick cool-down.
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Cook, schmook. Your microwave is waiting to show you what else it can do besides pop corn. Give it some love:
Juice helper: You'll squeeze more juice from lemons and oranges if you zap them in the microwave for 10 seconds, then squeeze.
Degerm sponges: Soak a sponge in water with a spritz of white vinegar, and place it in the microwave for two minutes. Not only will your sponge smell fresh, but the steam will make scrubbing the microwave and its telltale spaghetti sauce a snap.
Homemade heating pad/hand warmer: Fill an old sock with rice (not instant) or dried beans, tie the end closed, and place in the microwave for 60 seconds on high. Always touch lightly to check the temperature. If the pad isn't hot enough, add 15 more seconds. If you want the heating pad to smell nice, add a drop or two of essential oil to the rice/bean mix before heating.
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Other appliance multitaskers
Try these ideas, too:
- A slow cooker is also a slow baker -- perfect for making bread and cake (especially since it keeps the moisture in).
- Rice cookers can also make perfect oatmeal.
- A popcorn popper can also toast nuts.
- Your oven on low heat works just as well as a food dehydrator.
- A waffle iron can make extra-crispy hash browns.
- In a pinch, your coffee maker can cook eggs. Hello, breakfast!