Sure, ice cubes are indispensable in your lemonade pitcher or in the cocktail shaker when happy hour rolls around. Those are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, though. Ice cubes are more than just a bite-sized dose of wintry chill. They're a powerhouse provider of help around the home. Pull that tray out of your freezer right now, and give one of these handy hacks a try.
Water Plants Easily
Have you got plants that are a pain to reach with your watering can? Ever had water spill over the pot and soil your furniture or, even worse, splash down into your computer or TV cable box? Well, that's all in the past now. Instead of watering your plants the usual way, just reach up and leave an ice cube or two on top of the soil. They'll melt slowly enough to be easily absorbed into the soil, without overflowing or dripping.
Un-Gunk That Disposal
Most people know you shouldn't put fatty foods down the disposal, but a lot of us do it anyway. Over time the accumulated fatty deposits create a double whammy: They create nasty smells in the disposal, and they keep it from working the way it should. Oddly, ice cubes provide one of the best ways to clean out that fatty gunk. Just drop a handful of cubes down the disposal and run the unit until they're chewed up. The cold from the ice hardens the fat, and then the broken-up pieces scrape them from the disposal's surfaces. Repeat as necessary until the disposal is clear.
Un-Wrinkle a Garment
Getting wrinkles out of your clothes isn't especially difficult if you have an iron or a steamer, but those aren't always going to be around when you need them. Besides, they take time and attention you might need to spend elsewhere. If you have a few things you need to de-wrinkle effortlessly, toss them into your dryer with an ice cube or two and turn it to its highest setting. The melting ice cube adds moisture to the air inside the dryer, and that hot, moist atmosphere will get the wrinkles out of your clothes in no time.
Keep Stains From Setting
When you spill something on your clothes, one of the best pieces of advice you'll hear is to get some water on it immediately to keep it from staining. An even better piece of advice is to put an ice cube on it instead. It will moisten the stain and help keep it from setting. Unlike water, an ice cube won't spread the stain to the surrounding area. Even better, its icy cold thickens common stain-causers like ketchup or mustard and actively helps keep them from spreading.
Fluff Up Your Carpet
When your floors are carpeted, rearranging a room requires a bit more effort than just moving your furniture around. Everywhere a piece of furniture has been, you'll find the telltale imprints of its legs or bottom edges in the carpet. If you leave them alone, those dents in the pile will spoil the look of your room for a long time to come. Sure, you can filter them out for social media, but it's better to just fix the problem. Drop an ice cube or two into each indent, and let it melt. The carpet's pile will bounce back as the moisture dries out, and you can help things along by fluffing or brushing the spot as it dries.
Clean Where You Can't Reach
By the time your flowers are past their prime, the inside of that vase can get pretty nasty. Unfortunately, the shape of many vases, wine carafes, ornamental coffee pots and other similar items, makes it almost impossible to scrub them out by hand. Often, even a brush won't fit. Surprisingly, ice cubes can make these uncleanable vessels easy to scrub. Funnel some coarse salt down into the dirty vase or carafe, and add some lemon juice to moisten it and bring acidity. Next, add some ice cubes. Swirl or shake the vase vigorously so the ice cubes can push around the abrasive salt and acidic juice. After just a few moments, the inside will be squeaky clean.
Keep Your Pets Cool
Pets pant to keep themselves cool, but on really hot days that might not cut it. To help keep your fur babies from getting overheated, treat them to an ice-cold drink. Just like you, they'll appreciate ice water on a really hot day, and it will help them regulate their temperature. You can also fill a zipper-seal bag with ice and leave it out for them to nuzzle or snuggle up to. Many dogs, especially young pups, get a lot of amusement out of chewing and playing with an ice cube. It's well worth the modest amount of cleanup, and a low-risk distraction from some of the other things they might choose to chew on.
Make Clean Caulk Lines
If you've ever done any fix-it work or renovations around the house, you'll know that caulk is absolutely necessary for sealing around windows, plumbing fixtures and countertops to keep the wet out. Unfortunately, the same stickiness that makes caulk so useful makes it kind of a pain to work with. Getting a clean, smooth finish is especially difficult because the tools you'd normally use to smooth the caulk often stick to it. That's not a problem when you use an ice cube instead. The cube's rounded bottom corner smooths the caulk beautifully, but the adhesive can't stick to its icy, melty surface.
Reduce Pain and Inflammation
Few things keep pain and inflammation to a minimum like the quick use of cold, and ice cubes are an easy way to do that. If you have an old-school icepack, you can fill that with ice. Otherwise, just wrap a few cubes in a clean cloth or in a plastic baggie and apply them to the sore spot. Ice can minimize swelling from a bruise or mild sprain, soothe a headache, keep your eyebrows from becoming red and puffy after plucking, or even "anesthetize" a pimple before you pop it. Ice applied to a small cut will help blood vessels contract, and slow or stop the bleeding.
Make Lower-Fat Gravies and Sauces
Roasting a large cut of meat will leave you with a supply of richly flavored drippings. Similarly, simmering meat or bones slowly will give you a broth that's filled with flavor and body. Turning the drippings or broth into a sauce, soup or gravy is relatively straightforward, but first you'll probably want to remove the fat that pools on top. The simplest way to do this is to pour off your drippings or broth and leave them in the fridge overnight, but that's not always an option. A quicker technique is to add ice cubes to the liquid, and wait a few minutes until the fat hardens around them. Then, it's relatively simple to lift out and discard the ice and the congealed fat.