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11 Things You Didn’t Know Your Microwave Could Do

It isn't just for reheating your leftovers!

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In-home incubator

“Have you ever picked up takeout food but couldn’t dig in immediately for whatever reason? Well instead of leaving the food out to get cold, place it in the microwave and close the door,” said Ron Scimek, president of Mr. Appliance, a Neighborly company. “The confined, insulated, and airtight space of the microwave will help insulate the food and keep it as fresh as possible for approximately an hour or so.” Under utilizing your microwave for these handy hacks is just one of the ways you’re using your microwave wrong.

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Quick disinfecting

Need to reuse that dirty sponge or cooking utensils but don’t have time for the dishwasher to run? In steps your trusty microwave. “Simply place the sponge into a bowl of water with vinegar and place it on high power for approximately a minute,” Schimek told Reader’s Digest. “Utensils such as cutting boards can also be cleaned by placing them in the microwave. As with the sponge, use vinegar or lemon and place in the microwave for a minute, and voila!”

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Keep that garlic smell off your hands

No, we don’t recommend attempting to microwave your hands; this is a pre-emptive measure. Engineers at Mix Repairs shared this helpful hack with Reader’s Digest. “Get around the nasty garlic smell that you get on your hands by simply blasting the whole head in your microwave on high settings for no more than 15-20 seconds. After that, the garlic cloves should be much easier to peel.” Rather not microwave your garlic? Try this trick for peeling garlic quickly.

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Un-crystallize honey

It can be hard to spread crystallized honey on toast, and even harder to cook with it or use it as a sweetener. Mix Repairs appliance experts told us that the quickest and easiest way to get your honey back in its original form is to spin your honey around the microwave for a few seconds just before using it. The sugars should melt back down and you can enjoy your smooth sweetener again.

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Soften hard brown sugar

There’s nothing more irritating when you’re baking than running into hardened brown sugar that surely won’t mix into whatever you’re making. But the fix is easy! According to microwave aficionados at Exclusive Repairs, “Simply put the brown sugar lump in a bowl. Wet a paper towel and cover the bowl with it, then microwave in ten-second bursts until the sugar is crumbly again. Poke the sugar with a fork between bursts to help break up the lump.” Just be sure you keep the “cook” time low. If you leave the sugar in the microwave for too long, it will melt. Just make sure you aren’t shortening the life of your microwave with these common mistakes.

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Sterilize soil

Just like you can disinfect your utensils, you can also “clean” your soil. “Place 400g of soil on a flat dish and microwave it for a minute and 30 seconds on a medium setting, until it is steaming,” Exclusive Repairs told Reader’s Digest. Why would you want to do this, you ask? According to dengarden, sterilizing soil can kill off harmful bacteria, pathogens, and even insects or larvae that will eat your plants.

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Get more freshly squeezed orange juice

According to Exclusive Repairs, this trick works on all citrus. “Put your fruit in the microwave for 10-30 seconds (larger fruit needs more time). Remove the fruit and allow it to cool for about a minute. Then, slice the fruit in half and use a manual juicer to get every last drop of juice out of it.” Using your microwave because your other appliances are on the fritz? Here’s when all your favorite appliances are most likely to break.

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Re-stick a stamp

Stick your stamp on the wrong envelope? Exclusive Repairs has you covered with this handy hack. “All you need to do is just add a few drops of water on the stamp, then microwave it with a low setting for 20 seconds.” The stamp will come right up and you can glue it back down in the right spot.

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Make a meatloaf

And in just 15 minutes, too! Our sister site Taste of Home has an excellent recipe for 15-minute microwave meatloaf. With only two to three minutes in the microwave, this meatloaf isn’t just delicious, it might be the easiest thing you cook this year. Meatloaf isn’t the only gourmet microwave meal you can make. Take a look at these 10 foods even professional chefs cook in the microwave.

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Chop onions tear-free

Once you trim off the end of the onion, microwave it whole for 30 seconds. Once it is cool, chop away! It isn’t enough time to cook the onion, but it will keep you from crying!

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Save money

Using your microwave to heat and reheat food instead of your stove or your oven can actually save you big time. “Microwaves use less energy than the stove and generate less heat to the surrounding areas. So especially in the hotter summer months, cooking simple microwave recipes can help you cut down your costs in two ways. One, you won’t be using as much energy on the meal; and two, you won’t be tempted to crank up the AC while it’s cooking,” says Matthias Alleckna, an energy analyst at EnergyRates.ca. That’s not all—here are some more microwave tricks every home chef needs to know.