Better Uses for Your Baster | Reader's Digest

Better Uses for Your Baster

Discover why a baster's more than just a kitchen item!

from Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things

Pour perfect batter To make picture-perfect pancakes, cookies, and muffins, simply fill your baster with batter so that you can pour just the right amount onto a griddle or cookie sheet or into a muffin pan.

Remove excess water from coffeemaker The perfect cup of coffee is determined by using the proper balance of water and ground coffee in your automatic coffeemaker. If you pour in too much water, however, you typically have to add more coffee or suffer through a weak pot. But there’s another, often overlooked option: Simply use your kitchen baster to remove the excess water to bring it in at just the right level.

Water hard-to-reach plants Do you get drips all over yourself, the floor, or furniture when trying to water hanging plants or other difficult-to-reach houseplants? Instead, fill a baster with water and squeeze it directly into the pot. You can also use a baster to water a Christmas tree and to add small, precise amounts of water to cups containing seedlings or germinating seeds.

Refresh water in flower arrangements It’s a fact: Cut flowers last longer with periodic water changes. But pouring out the old water and adding the new is not a particularly easy or pleasant task. Unless, that is, you use a baster to suck out the old water and then to squirt in fresh water.

Place water in pet’s bowl Are you getting tired of chasing the bunny, hamster, or other caged pet around the house whenever you change its water? Use a baster to fill the water dish. You can usually fit the baster between the slats without having to open the cage.

Clean your aquarium A baster makes it incredibly easy to change the water in your fish tank or to freshen it up a bit. Simply use the utensil to suck up the gunk that collects in the corners and in the gravel at the bottom of your tank.

Blow away roaches and ants If you’ve had it with sharing your living quarters with roaches or ants, give them the heave-ho by sprinkling boric acid along any cracks or crevices where you’ve spotted the intruders. Use a baster to blow small amounts of the powder into hard-to-reach corners and any deep voids you come across. Note: Keep in mind that boric acid can be toxic if ingested by young children or pets.

Transfer paints and solvents The toughest part of any touchup paint job is invariably pouring the paint from a large can into a small cup or container. To avoid the inevitable spills, and just to make life easier in general, use a baster to take the paint out of the can. In fact, it’s a good idea to make a baster a permanent addition to your workshop for transferring any solvents, varnishes, and other liquid chemicals.

Cure a musty-smelling air conditioner If you detect a musty odor blowing out of the vents of your room air-conditioner, chances are it’s caused by a clogged drain hole. First, unscrew the front of the unit and locate the drain hole. It’s usually located under the barrier between the evaporator and compressor, or underneath the evaporator. Use a bent wire hanger to clear away any obstacles in the hole or use a baster to flush it clean. You may also need to use the baster to remove any water that may be pooling up at the bottom of the unit to gain access to the drain.

Fix a leaky refrigerator Is water leaking inside your refrigerator? The most likely cause is a blocked drain tube. This plastic tube runs from a drain hole in the back of the freezer compartment along the back of your fridge and drains into an evaporation pan underneath. Try forcing hot water through the drain hole in the freezer with a baster. If you can’t access the drain hole, try disconnecting the tube on the back to blow water through it. After clearing the tube, pour a teaspoon of ammonia or bleach into the drain hole to prevent a recurrence of algae spores, the probable culprit.

Take Care Never use your kitchen baster for tasks such as cleaning out a fish tank or spreading or transferring chemicals. Basters are staples at discount stores, and it’s worth a visit to pick up a few to keep around the house specifically for non-cooking chores. Label them with a piece of masking tape to make sure you always use the same baster for the same task.