Home Hacks: 9 Unexpected Uses for Your Appliances

Amanda Bell
Written by Amanda Bell
Updated February 10, 2016
You can do a lot more than just zap food in your microwave. (Photo by Eldon Lindsay)

Think outside the box: Creative ways to use appliances to tackle your household chores.

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You use them every day to wash, dry and cook, but did you know your household appliances can also be used to dye fabrics and clean your computer keyboard (among other things)?

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Check out these and other unexpected uses for your washing machine, dishwasher, refrigerator, microwave and more.

1. Warm plates

A toaster oven is perfect for warming plates because it can heat at temperatures lower than most standard ovens, which typically have a minimum heat setting of 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Just warm the plates for a few minutes before serving food.

2. Remove stamps

Remove a postage stamp without causing damage by placing a few drops of water on the stamp and microwaving it for 20 seconds. The stamp should come off easily.

3. Speed up the dyeing process

A microwave can rapidly accelerate the RIT dye drying reaction, reducing the process from hours of conventional drying to minutes.

Just make sure to cover the container holding the dye and line to bottom of your microwave with paper towels to protect against spills.

4. Make crayons

Have some old or broken crayons in your craft drawer?

Melt them in the microwave, pour them into greased cupcake tins, freeze and — voila! — new crayons. The same idea works for scrapping candle remnants to make candle tarts.

5. Recharge your batteries

Your freezer can do much more than what its name implies. Besides making ice cubes, it can also recharge NiMh and NiCd batteries and temporarily revive crashed computer hard drives long enough to retrieve important data.

After freezing batteries or hard drives, keep them stored in a sealed plastic bag for a few hours, just to make sure they’ve thawed out before attempting use.

6. Sanitize and clean clothes

If you’re worried about fading your favorite pair of jeans in the wash, try putting them in a sealable bag and storing them in the freezer for a week — the ice-cold air will kill bacteria, remove the musty smell and restore crispness.

7. Clean your electronics

Create an extension for your indoor/outdoor vacuum with a clean squeeze ketchup bottle to clean your computer keyboard, phone microphone or other nook on an electronic device.

8. Wash tools and brushes

In addition to your dishes, your dishwasher can clean your cleaning tools and hair and makeup brushes — even your computer keyboard, if you’re desperate.

If you’re cleaning your keyboard, place it face-down on the top rack, skipping the drying cycle and detergent, to avoid damaging it and let it air dry for a couple days before plugging it back in.

9. Make a salad

While not the ideal machine for anything but washing clothes, your washing machine can pinch hit for large-scale salad prep.

Just put the greens in a pillowcase and spin them in cold water on the gentle cycle (with no detergent). Think of it is a salad spinner on a much larger scale.

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