Have you ever considered how much you really use your microwave? I mean, think about all the things that would be infinitely harder without one, like reheating coffee or popping some popcorn. Your microwave is probably one of the most used appliances in your home, but we’re here to tell you that it holds even more potential than you know.
Your microwave can be used for a lot more than heating up leftovers. Having a microwave around is super convenient because you can use it to cook sides while main dishes are on the stove (and do so in half the time), and to make a host of household tasks easier. Check out some little-known microwave hacks below.
Make a ‘baked’ potato.
Want a freshly baked potato in a rush? Use the microwave. All you have to do to cook a potato in the microwave is prick the potato all over with a fork, heat it in a microwave-safe dish for two minutes, then turn it over for another two minutes — then just let it cool, cut, and serve!
Disinfect kitchen supplies.
Did you know that kitchen supplies like sponges and cutting boards can be disinfected using the microwave? Researchers from the University of Florida found that using a microwave was very effective at sterilizing kitchen sponges. Simply wash your items in regular soap and water first, then rub the item with half a lemon, and microwave the item for one minute.
You can cook bacon in record time using your microwave, all while watching the eggs on the stove. Simply place your bacon strips between two paper towels and heat them in the microwave for three minutes.
The easiest way to peel off thin, sticky garlic skin? Stick your cloves in the microwave for ten seconds. The skin will peel off without any fuss!
Make a hot compress.
Aches and pains got you down? You can create your very own warm spa-worthy hot compress by filling a sock with rice, tying the top of the sock securely, and microwaving it for about 30 seconds. To make a moist wet compress, heat a wet towel inside a microwave-safe ziplock bag.
Steaming veggies has never been easier than it is with a microwave. You can steam frozen veggies by poking them with a fork and microwaving for two to three minutes in a microwave-safe dish with water in it (according to instructions) — much faster than steaming over the stove!
You can cook grains like rice and quinoa in a microwave-safe bowl to reduce dishwashing! Just put your grains and water (according to cooking directions) in a storage dish and microwave for 15 to 20 minutes. That’s it!
Rehydrate stale bread.
If your bread has turned stiff, rehydrate it in the microwave. Soak a paper towel or clean kitchen towel in water and wrap it around your sliced stale bread. Heat it in the microwave for 10 to 20 seconds to infuse the bread with fresh moisture.
Juice a lime or lemon.
If you’ve only got stiff limes or lemons in your fridge and your recipe calls for juice, stick them in the microwave to soften them up. Microwaving limes and lemons for 10 to 20 seconds releases the juice so you can easily squeeze every last drop.
Ripen a banana.
Making banana bread and need to ripen your bananas in a hurry? Stick it in the microwave! This tip might make your bananas a little too ripe to eat, but they’ll be perfect to throw into a banana bread recipe. To ripen bananas in the microwave, poke the banana all over using a fork. Then, microwave it for one to two minutes, and it’ll be brown and ripe for the baking!
This article originally appeared on our sister site, First for Women.