Try these microwave hacks!

Microwaves can be the handiest appliance in your kitchen, and they’re about to get handier. We’ve come up with a few nifty ways to use your microwave aside from re-heating food. Check out these bright ideas:

1. Disinfect household items. The heat involved in microwaving is also great for killing bacteria. A few ideas to try at home:
  • Get more mileage out of your sponges by microwaving a wet sponge on high for 2 minutes. Voila! Clean, sterile and ready to use again.
  • Do the same with toothbrushes. Put them on a clean dish, then nuke in the microwave for 20 seconds on high; germs are history.
  • You can also microwave a bag of potting soil; it sterilizes the soil so you won’t get any surprise weeds growing in your planter. Spread about a pound of it on a plate and nuke for 90 seconds.
2. Repurpose soap scraps. Gather all the slivers of bar soap from your bathrooms. Add the slivers of soap and 1/4 cup of water to a glass measuring cup. In bursts of 30 to 50 seconds at a time, microwave on high until the soap melts. Let it cool, but make sure it is still liquid. Pour into any plastic container. Stick it in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes. When the soap is hard again, it should pop right out of the container. If you had a large amount of soap, you can use a hot knife (just run it under some hot water) to cut the soap into smaller pieces. You can reuse it, and the heat has killed the bacteria!

3. Dry herbs and flowers. There is quite a variety of flowers and herbs you can preserve using the microwave, but some dry better than others. The basic rule of thumb is that the more petals there are on a flower, the better results you will have. Place the flowers between paper towels. Then place the towels on a plate. Microwave 1 to 3 minutes. Check each minute to see if the flower is in the state of dryness you want. You can also dry fresh herbs like basil, rosemary, and parsley—perfect if you have herb plants that you want to be able to use in the long term. If you'd like to learn more about this cool and easy process, check out this horticulturist’s take on it.

4. Heat plates and dishes. When it comes time to serve hot food, put those empty plates in the microwave for a minute. Warmed plates are especially nice when you make anything with soft tortillas, or when you’re not sure how soon your guests will arrive and you need to keep food warm. Sprinkle the plates with a few drops of water before you microwave them.

5. Make play dough for the kids. There are a plethora of simple homemade play dough recipes out there, including some that utilize the microwave instead of the stove. A microwave recipe is often better when little hands want to help. PlaydoughRecipe.com offers a simple microwaveable recipe that can be tinted with food coloring once the dough is made. 

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