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There are some things you use (and have been using) almost every day of your life. Like your dishwasher, your freezer, and your phone charger, just to name a few. But prepare to have your mind blown—because chances are, you’ve been using all of those things wrong this whole time.
Below are 13 everyday products that you never knew you were misusing and how to use them the right way. Game. Changer.
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1. Your dishwasher
There are so many mistakes people make with their dishwashers that they don’t even realize. Like overcrowding it with dirty dishes, placing utensils in upside down, or pre-rinsing plates and bowls before putting them inside (a major faux pas!). You also might not realize you have to clean your dishwasher regularly for it to function properly. If you don’t, food debris can get trapped in the filter and prevent your dishwasher from draining or rinsing correctly and leading to dirtier dishes.
2. Your phone charger
Every night, I plug my phone in when I get in bed and let it charge overnight while I sleep. And apparently, that’s one of the worst things you can do when it comes to your phone’s battery (whoops). Experts say that charging your phone for that long can make the battery age faster and that it’s actually ideal to keep your battery between 30 and 50 percent. That might be true but if you’re still worried about your phone dying on you, consider a portable charger to keep it juiced up—but not too much!—during the day.
3. Cleaning wipes
One swipe of your go-to Clorox wipes is all it takes to sanitize your countertops, right? Wrong. The CDC warns that in order to kill off germs and bacterias, your countertop (or table, etc.) should stay wet for 3 to 5 minutes after you wipe it. That means you’ll likely need to use more wipes than you think and really saturate whatever surface it is that you’re cleaning.
4. Your grill
Sorry but you might not be quite the grill master that you thought you were. Don’t preheat the grill? You’ll have unevenly cooked meat. Think all spots of the grill are the same? False—you’ll want to move food from high-heat to low-heat areas at the right time for the best results. Only putting food over direct heat (i.e. open flames)? You’re likely to burn the outside—just like above, take advantage of indirect heat spots. Open the lid every few minutes to check your food? You’re letting out precious heat and affecting your cook time.
5. Laundry detergent
Too much of a good thing is not a good thing. At least when it comes to laundry detergent. Using too much can not only make your clothes feel dirtier and greasier but it can also leave white spots and stains. Measure your detergent out carefully and make sure you’re using the right kind for your laundry machine (like high-efficiency detergent for a high-efficiency machine, for instance).
6. Your stainless steel pans
Nonstick pans are my jam—they’re easy to use and even easier to clean. Stainless steel pans? Eh, not so much. Or so I thought. Apparently the trick to using stainless steel pans correctly (and effortlessly!) is to season them first, just as you would a cast iron pan. It just takes a little bit of oil and a little bit of patience and your stainless steel pans will be just as slippery as your favorite nonstick ones.
7. Your freezer
Imagine stocking your freezer full of prepped meals and groceries—only to open it up in a month and find them spoiled or freezer-burnt. Not good. But that’s what will happen if you 1) overcrowd your freezer or block the vent and prevent air from circulating properly or 2) keep it at too high of a temperature. Your freezer should be set to 0 degrees, which you should check often with your own refrigerator thermometer (digital displays aren’t always completely accurate).
8. Your snow shovel
The only thing worse than shoveling snow is the backache you usually wake up with the next day. That could be caused by either the wrong shovel (we recommend this durable aluminum one!) or the wrong form. Alternate your grip on your shovel—switch between left- and right-handed—to prevent your muscles from getting fatigued and bend at your hips (instead of rounding your back) as you scoop.
9. Your stand mixer
KitchenAid stand mixers are a home chef’s dream come true—if you’re using it correctly. And according to the popular brand, many people are not. It’s all about properly aligning the beater. Too low and it will ding up the bottom of your bowl but too high and it won’t mix your ingredients thoroughly. Fortunately, adjusting the alignment is super simple and just involves tightening or loosening the screw at the neck of your stand mixer to raise or lower the beater.
10. Your washing machine
You take the time to sort the whites from the darks—so clearly you know what you’re doing when it comes to laundry. Or so you thought. There’s a little more to it than that. Like choosing the right cycle (when in doubt, cold water is always a great option for saving water and protecting your clothes), not filling the drum more than 2/3 full, and leaving the door open after use to let the interior dry out and prevent mold.
11. Your Pyrex dishes
How many times have you taken a Pyrex glass dish straight out of the refrigerator and into the oven—or vice versa? Probably pretty often (after all, isn’t the fact that they’re oven and freezer-safe one of their biggest draws?!). And while that may be true, you run the risk of shattering or even exploding your casserole dish by exposing it to such extreme temperature changes. Instead, preheat your oven before placing your dish inside and always let your dish come to room temperature before placing it in the oven or refrigerator/freezer to protect it.
12. Your robot vacuum
So you replaced your regular vacuum with a robot vacuum. That was your first mistake. We love robot vacuums as much as the next person (especially the Eufy RoboVac!) but the truth is, they aren’t meant to be a substitute for your upright vacuum—they’re just meant to be an addition. A.k.a. your robot vacuum should merely be used to tidy up in between deeper cleanings.
Fun fact: Most people only apply about 25 to 50 percent of the sunscreen that they should. And not only are you likely using too little sunblock, you also probably aren’t applying it enough. Doctors recommend reapplying sunscreen every two hours or after swimming or sweating. As for how much? Adults should use about a shot glass full of sunscreen while kids need about half of that.
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