7 Microwave Hacks for Both Cooking and Cleaning

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There's no denying that a microwave is a useful tool, but are you maximizing the appliance's potential? After all, there's far more to a microwave than reheating leftovers or thawing out TV dinners. In fact, there are many microwave hacks that can help you cook, clean, meal prep, and more.

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To get you started as you learn more about the handy appliance, here are seven microwave tricks you might not know about.

1. Peel garlic.

Garlic is delicious, but it can be a little annoying to prep because you have to peel the individual cloves. However, if you microwave a garlic bulb for about 20 seconds, the cloves will essentially slide right out of their peels. The tradeoff is that the garlic may become a bit less pungent than if you peeled it by hand, as the microwave will inactivate some enzymes.

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2. Make potato chips.

Nope, potato chips don't need to be deep fried. You can make them in the microwave without oil, meaning they're a smidge healthier than the fried alternative. There are different recipes, but the gist is to cut a potato into extremely thin slices, rinse the slices, dry them, season them, and pop them into a microwave.

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3. Dry herbs.

If you have fresh herbs from a window box or a garden — things like rosemary, sage, and thyme — you can dehydrate those herbs in the microwave for long-term storage. Traditionally, herbs are hung to dry for weeks, but it'll only take a few minutes in the microwave. Wash and dry your herb leaves, then spread them out atop a paper towel on a plate. Microwave in 30-second increments until they're completely dry.

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4. Extract extra juice from citrus fruits.

A juicer does a fine job of getting the delectable nectar out of citrus fruits, but there's a hidden reserve that a juicer can't tap into. The fibrous membranes inside the fruits hold extra juice. To release that juice, gently roll your unpeeled citrus fruits on a hard surface to loosen up the membranes, then microwave the whole fruits for 10 to 15 seconds to loosen them up even further. After, when you go use your juicer, you'll get even more liquid out of the fruit.

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5. Clean your microwave with all-natural ingredients.

Microwaves often end up covered with food splatters, but you can clean off the interior of the appliance with one simple trick. Put half a cup of water in a microwavable bowl, then cut a lemon in half, squeeze its juices into the bowl, and put the halves in as well. Microwave the bowl and its contents until the water boils — this will take at least three minutes. Let the bowl sit for five minutes, allowing time for the steam to penetrate the food residue on the interior of the microwave. Lastly, open the door and use a cloth to wipe down the interior of the microwave.

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6. Disinfect a sponge.

Given their proclivity to remain damp for long periods of time, sponges are breeding grounds for bacteria, mold, and mildew. To extend the life of a sponge, sanitize it in the microwave to get rid of all the microorganisms that create those gross smells.

Tip

Make sure the sponge has no metal components (some scrubbers do!), and wet it before you microwave it for two to three minutes because a dry sponge could catch fire.

7. Use an ice cube to steam your food.

À la Emily Mariko on TikTok, to prevent your meal from drying out when you microwave it, place an ice cube on your food and cover it with a piece of parchment paper or paper towel. When the ice cube melts, the microwave's heat will cause the water to steam, providing the dish with the moisture it needs to not dry out.

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