The 4 household appliances you didn’t know had other uses 11



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You could be fooled into thinking your dishwasher, rice cooker, slow cooker and microwave were used for what it says on the box, but in reality these four appliances are so useful.

From peeling garlic, to sanitising dog toys, to making risotto and play dough, there’s a lot more to these appliances than meets the eye.

Here’s our favourite ways to use them:


1. Sponges and dishcloths

Instead of chucking them out or leaving them to get even more germs, put your kitchen cloths and sponges in the cutlery basket and put on a quick cycle.

2. Cleaning tools

Plastic broom heads, dust pans, vacuum attachments and floor brushes can all go in the dishwasher, however remember to remove excess dust and hair first.

3. Dog toys

Many pet toys are dishwasher-safe and can be run through a regular cycle! Rinse off the hair before you wash.

4. Hairbrushes and combs

Plastic hairbrushes and combs can be cleaned in the dishwasher – make sure you remove any excess hair first so it doesn’t clog your drain. Don’t try this with natural bristles or wooden handles as the water and heat can damage them.

5. Makeup brushes

Regularly sanitise any brushes that touch your eyes and face by placing them in the cutlery basket, and let the dishwasher blast away dried makeup and dust.

6. Canvas shoes

Had a big day on the green? Your canvas shoes will be cleaned in no time if you pop them in the dishwasher.

7. Toothbrush

Is your toothbrush smelling a bit or needs a freshen up? Pop it in the dishwasher’s cutlery basket.

Rice cooker


1. Make breakfast

Because a slow cooker reduces the possibility of burning your food (it heats up to a certain point and then decreases the heat), it is ideal for cooking breakfast! You can put oats in it just as you would in the microwave, but the ‘warm’ setting will stop the oats from curdling.

2. Make risotto

The best part of making a risotto in a rice cooker is that you don’t need to stir it. Simply added 1 part rico and 4 parts liquid, then press ‘cook’!

3. Make bread

Yes, you heard that right: you can make bread in your rice cooker. All you need is:

  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 5g yeast
  • 1.5 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 21g butter
  • 30ml milk
  • 180 ml water

Simply add these into your rice cooker and hit ‘cook’. It is a very plain bread but is good for eating with soups or pasta dishes.

4. Make vanilla cake

Even cakes can be made in this 10-in-1 appliance. All you need is:

  • 1 packet vanilla cake mix OR add the ingredients individually
  • 1 can sliced peaches
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1.5 tbsp brown sugar
  • whipped cream

Mix cake ingredients according to package instructions then add the cake mix to rice cooker and press ‘cook’. Cake will bake for approximately 45 minutes.

While it cooks, heat a pan to medium and add peaches. Cook until they start to brown on the edges then add the butter and brown sugar. Stir butter and brown sugar into peaches and continue to cook for another few minutes. Turn off heat and set aside.

Once cake is ready, allow to cool slightly then slice into wedges and serve with peaches and cream.

Slow cooker

1. Make crayons

What you need: 

  • small slow cooker
  • small plastic ladles
  • used crayons
  • plastic or silicone moulds with various shapes
  • pot holders
  • paper towels


1. Sort crayons by colour. Remove paper and break into pieces, 2cm or smaller.
2. Cover bottom of crock pot with whatever colours you like, about 2cm deep
3. Turn crock pot onto low setting and allow crayons to melt for approximately 30 minutes. Wait 20 minutes before you stir and check periodically to see if completely melted.
4. Use ladles to carefully pour melted crayon into molds.
5. Cool crayons in freezer for approximately 10 minutes.

2. Dye yarn

What you need:

  • a slow cooker
  • wool yarn
  • several colours of Kool-Aid (can be bought from specialised candy stories)
  • large spoon
  • colander
  • vinegar


  1. Start by filling the crock pot with water (and a little vinegar if you want) and submerging the yarn in there.
  2. Let it soak for a moment, then turn on medium heat and put the lid on – the yarn should soak for at least 15 minutes or so (longer is fine) before dyeing, and the lid should fog up to show that it’s hot.
  3. Cover one half of the yarn in the pot with whatever colour you like, and the other half with another, sprinkled directly from the packet into the pot.
  4. Cover with the lid and let it sit until the dye fully absorbs into the yarn, so the water looks clear and the yarn is coloured.
  5. Use your spoon to turn the yarn over, so all the undyed yarn from the bottom is now on top. Dye with different colours.
  6. Cover and let the dye absorb again, then use your spoon to turn the yarn around and search for white spots.
  7. Once the dyeing is complete, turn off the heat, and let it sit in the water to cool for awhile.
  8. Scoop the skein out with the spoon, into the colander in the sink, and let it cool all the way to room temperature there.
  9. Rinse a bit, with water of the same temperature, and squeeze the water out as much as you can, without twisting.
  10. Roll up in a towel to dry more, shake it out, then hang to dry overnight or until totally dry.

3. Play dough

What you need:

  • 1 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup cream of tartar
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 2 teaspoon cooking oil
  • 2 cups flour (or you can use rice flour to make it gluten free)
  • 1 cup corn starch
  1. Plug in your crockpot and turn to low to warm up slowly.
  2. Dump in your dry ingredients, stirring to evenly distribute.
  3. Add the water and oil. Close the lid and switch the heat to high.
  4. Set a timer and check your play dough every 30 minutes, stirring well each time.
  5. You will know it’s done or close to done when the playdough begins to form a ball when you stir it. When that happens, remove the stoneware insert from your crock pot and stir some more. Dump it out onto a smooth surface and begin to knead. If your dough is overly sticky, add a bit of cornstarch; if overly dry, add a touch more hot water. Each time you make the dough, the water required will be a bit different, depending on the humidity in the air.
  6. Separate the dough into manageable lumps and push a hole into the centre for a few drops of food colouring.
  7. Squish the dough around to distribute the desired colour.

4. Candles


What you need:

  • slow cooker
  • old tea cups or small glasses
  • wicks
  • scented oil
  • old candles/melts


  1. Cut or grate candles and melts
  2. Place cups into your slow cooker.
  3. Fill your cups with the cut up wax as high as you can. Be careful not to spill any into your slow cooker. You could place tin foil along the bottom if wanted.
  4. Drip in a few drops of any new scented oils if wanted.
  5. Turn on LOW for a couple of hours.
  6. Once your melts are completely melted, add the wicks.
  7. Once the cups are cool enough to touch, take out and place them on the counter to cool. Clip the wick if necessary.
  8. When they are completely cooled, light and enjoy!


1.Tear free onions – pop them in the mic with the ends cut off for 30 seconds and you won’t cry when you cut them!

2. Reuse stamps – Put a couple of drops of water on the stamp and pop the letter in the microwave. It’ll come right off!

3. Get more juice out of lemons or limes – Heat your citrus fruits on high for a minute and you will get 30 per cent more juice out of them.

4. Peel garlic fast – Put a single clove on high heat for 15 seconds and it will peel super easily.

5. Poach an egg – Wet the inside of a mug and crack an egg, making sure you don’t break the yolk. Put a damp paper towel on top of the mug, covering the egg. Microwave on high for 1 and a half minutes and voila!

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Some interesting, even useful hints there for anyone who wants to try them.
    I liked the candles tips.
    Thanks for sharing 👏👏👏

  2. i do put my goldilocks pot scrubs through the dishwasher, dont think I will be putting the hair brushes etc in it though yuk !!!!! as for canvas shoes. !! I do not think so !!!!!!!

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