These 10 Unusual Ways to Use Your Microwave Are Game Changers

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Close-up of a woman hand using an oven
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It's the reason you can get home at 7 and sit down to a hot meal at 7:05. The humble microwave is always there to nuke your leftovers, pop the popcorn for movie night and reheat the coffee you forgot about. This mighty kitchen gadget can do more than just heat up food, though. Use it to make your life easier (and warmer!) in a multitude of ways.

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cleaning a sink with yellow sponge
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Zap Germs on Sponges

You don't want to know what's living on your dirty sponges — trust us. Instead of losing sleep over how gross those trusty kitchen helpers are, let your microwave destroy the germs. Soak a sponge in water until it's completely wet but not dripping, and nuke it for one minute on high. Goodbye, bacteria; hello, truly clean surfaces.

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Makeup and makeup sponges
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Disinfect Beauty Blenders

Beauty blenders are prone to germs and bacteria just like the sponges you use in your kitchen. But because beauty blenders are used to smooth product onto your face, letting icky stuff linger on them is out of the question. Happily, cleaning these magical little blenders is quick and easy. Fill a microwave-safe cup with water and a little squirt of dish soap, submerge the blender and put the cup in the microwave for one minute. If the blender is caked with product, wash it with soapy water before heating it.

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Cuisine - Oignons émincés
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Tear-Proof Your Onions

Why does (sniff) making French onion soup (sniff) always make you so (sniff) emotional? A chemical in onions is to blame for making us tear up when we chop them. If you're prone to weeping while doing dinner prep, try microwaving an onion for 30 seconds before cutting into it. As long as working with a warm onion doesn't bother you, this trick should help you keep clear eyes while you work.

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Hot therapy woman
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Heat a Rice Sock

Sore neck and shoulders? Get quick relief by making a DIY heating pad. Fill a big, clean sock with dry rice. Sew the opening closed or tie it with string or yarn (nothing containing metal). Microwave it for one minute, check how it feels and microwave for an additional minute if necessary. Drape the sock over your neck and enjoy 15 to 20 minutes of soothing warmth.

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Infusion herbs
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Dry Herbs

The secret to making a jar of tomato sauce taste homemade? Herbs like oregano and thyme. Dried herbs have uses beyond cooking, though: Things like lavender and rosemary can also go in sachets for your drawers, and be used for aromatherapy. Quickly dry out fresh herbs by creating a single layer of them between two paper towels and microwaving for two minutes, or until they're dry and brittle enough to crumble.

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Colorful Skeins of Yarn
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Dye Yarn

Rich, vibrant yarn is so appealing for craft projects, but it can get pretty pricey. Resourceful crafters can add their own colors to basic undyed wool yarn using powdered drink mix (think Kool Aid). Using a microwave-safe container (glass jars or zipping freezer bags work well), mix the powder with water and submerge yarn in the liquid. Heating the container for about a minute should lock in the color. Rinse the yarn in cool water and repeat as necessary to deepen the color.

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Woman With Hair Color
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Heat the Way to Better Hair

Your dry, brittle hair is crying out for moisture, and some of the products in your kitchen can help. Have coconut oil in your pantry? It'll inject your damaged tresses with moisture. Heating the oil gives you the maximum benefits, so make a DIY hair mask by melting a scoop of the oil in the microwave. Use oil alone, or experiment with adding things like mashed avocado, shea butter and essential oils to find the recipe that works best for your hair. Apply the oil to dry hair and wash it out after 20 minutes.

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Milk foam
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Froth Milk

You know your microwave can do a lot. But did you know it can take the place of your favorite barista? Make your own hot frothed milk for topping lattes, hot cocoa, cappuccinos or even your morning cup of tea or coffee. Half-fill a lidded jar with milk, shake vigorously until the milk is frothy, remove the lid and microwave the jar for 20 to 30 seconds. Spoon it over hot drinks and top with cinnamon or cocoa powder to make drinks that would cost $5 in a coffee shop.

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