It’s time to properly learn how to use everything in and around the home. From the right way to tear plastic wrap to having wrinkle-free button-down shirts, we’re here to help you on this journey of discovery.
Glass vs. plastic aside, not all food containers are ideal for the microwave. The corners of rectangular containers usually attract more energy than other areas, leaving the food in those spots overcooked. A round container will allow food to reheat more uniformly.
There’s a reason your blender keeps stalling after every few seconds – the order of your ingredients makes a huge difference. Start with your liquid base or yoghurt, then layer ingredients from smallest to largest, keeping the toughest pieces, such as ice, at the top. The liquids will let the blades run smoothly without catching on the hard ingredients.
The type of bread you’re toasting affects how hot you should set your toaster. While white and sweet breads heat quickly, heavier ones like rye take more time. Even slices from the same loaf might need a different setting after a few days. Once bread starts to dry out, you might need lower heat for the less fresh slices, which don’t take as long to toast.
Leaving the door of your oven closed when grilling can make heat and steam build up. Venting the steam lets your food develop the crustiness you’re going for, and letting the hot air out ensures the heat stays concentrated on the top instead of effectively baking the entire dish.
Opening the lid of your slow cooker lets heat out and messes up the cooking time, so resist the temptation to take a quick look or give it a stir until there’s less than an hour left of cook time. As long as your pot is between half and three-quarters of the way full, your dish should cook up just fine.
A University of Birmingham study found that the best spot in your dishwasher depends on the type of mess your plate has. The middle of the machine gets the strongest spray of water, which makes it best for carb-based stains like potatoes or tomatoes. On the other hand, the detergent is at its highest concentration at the edges, where it flows back down like a waterfall, making it the most effective spot for protein-based messes like eggs, which need more time to soak.
Big kitchen knives are scary enough without having to focus on how you hold them. Many people just wrap their hand around the handle. However, you’re supposed to hold your thumb and pointer finger on the sides of the blade. This grip will help you get more precise cuts.
Isn’t it annoying when cling wrap folds on itself and you need to rip out a new sheet? Keeping the tube still will help. Turn that box to the side and you should see a tab that you can press inwards, holding the tube in place. Aluminium foil has the same feature on its box.
That image on the toothpaste package of a smear big enough to cover the bristles isn’t what the doctor recommended. Dentists say the ideal amount is about the size of a pea.
Instead of furiously shaking the bottle until waaaay too much ketchup pours out, a Heinz spokesperson told Today a better trick: Hit the bottle where the neck starts to narrow. It will come out quicker and smoother.
If you’ve never used that little loop in the back of your dress shirts, you might be getting unnecessary wrinkles. The loop was added in the 1960s so men could hang them in gym lockers without getting creases in their shirts while they were working out.
If you watch monkeys in the wild, they peel bananas by the “bottom” instead of by the stem. Before you use that as proof that humans are smarter, try peeling it from the bottom yourself. Easier, right? No more mushy tops.
The most natural way to file nails is to rub the emery board back and forth over the nail. But that sawing motion actually weakens nails. Glide it in just one direction instead, going from the outside to the middle on each side before smoothing out the tip.
Cleaning ears is one of the most popular uses for cotton swabs, but it’s actually not very healthy. Sticking something small – ie a cotton bud – in your ear can just push the wax in farther.
Props for applying foundation with a beauty blender instead of your fingers, but you still might not be getting the most out of your makeup tools. They’re spongy for a reason – you should wet your sponge first to keep the makeup from soaking in and to help it blend smoothly. Use tiny dabs to apply rather than stroking it across your face.
Stand mixers are built at the right height, but during delivery or after normal use, their beaters might end up out of place. There should be a space the thickness of two sheets of paper between the beater and the bottom of the bowl. If yours is misaligned, lift the head and turn the screw on the neck to the left to raise the beater, or to the right to lower it.
Fans are self-explanatory enough in the summer, when pushing cool air down can help you save on AC costs. But ceiling fans can also keep your home cozy in the winter. Just use the pulley or a switch on the side of your unit to reverse the fan’s direction to clockwise. Now your fan will push the air up and spread the warm air around the room, making the space feel warmer.
Having a notification pop up every time you get a new message seems like a good way to keep on top of any surprises. But most emails don’t require an immediate response, and a University of British Columbia study found that people who could only check their email three times a day were less stressed than those who could read their messages anytime. Turn notifications off or limit them to important contacts like your boss to enjoy uninterrupted concentration.
You probably had a vague idea that produce should go in your fridge’s bottom drawers, but a few tiny tweaks can help them do their job of keeping your fruits and veggies fresh. Most fridges let you adjust the humidity for a reason. In general, the fruits and vegetables that rot quickest will fare better with low humidity, which lets out the gases they give off as they ripen. Use high humidity for foods that are more likely to wilt, like herbs and leafy greens.
It seems natural to start brushing at the top of your head, but that just drags your top tangles into the other knots farther down the shaft, making tangles even worse. Start brushing or combing at the bottom of your hair, then slowly work your way up as you get rid of the knots.
That last hole on your sneakers isn’t just for show. Depending on how you’re lacing your shoes, you can slip the laces through them to keep your shoes snug and comfy.
Post-It notes are great for setting little reminders around your computer screen, but have you ever been frustrated by the way they always seem to curl upwards? That’s because you’re peeling them from the bottom to the top, which bends the paper when you reach the sticky part. Peeling it off from the side will make it lie flat.
There is actually is a “right” way to blow your nose – and you’re probably not doing it. Blow too hard and snot could end up congesting your passages and even give yourself a sinus infection. Yikes. Instead, clear up one nostril at a time, blowing gently.
When you get home in the summer and turn on the AC, you probably crank it up to a lower temperature than usual so you can cool down quicker. The thing is, your AC can only work so fast. Setting it at 60°F instead of your usual 75°F won’t cool your home down any faster, but it will waste energy while your air conditioner keeps cranking chilly air long after it’s reached your ideal setting.
Ever notice there are spikes on the inside of the caps of some aluminium tubes, like ointments and prescription creams? When you use a product for the first time, you can turn the cap around and use the spike to poke a hole in the foil.
Or should we say, sink plungers? When you picture a plunger, you’re probably thinking of a red one with a flat bottom. Here’s the twist: Those are good for sinks and bathtubs, which have a flat bottom, but they won’t seal the drain on your toilet because it has a round bottom. Toilets need a flange plunger, which has a smaller opening that bells out so you can seal the drain.
Blenders have dull blades but powerful motors, while food processors have sharper blades and weaker motors. Use a blender for anything that needs to be super smooth with an even consistency, like smoothies, drinks, and creamy soups. But when working with hard foods like nuts and garlic, pull out a food processor, which is ideal for recipes with a chunkier texture, such as pesto.
This article originally appeared in Reader’s Digest.