The microwave is a college staple, always there to help you make the essentials: easy mac, mug cakes, and ramen. It helps you make your meals quickly and efficiently, but are you maximizing your microwave’s potential? These life hacks will help you realize all the things your microwave can do and help you cook your food more efficiently.

1. Soften your ice cream


Photo by Sarah Gilbert

Microwave your ice cream (with the lid off) in ten-second intervals until the desired consistency is reached.

2. Soften brown sugar


Photo by Becky Hughes

If you ever need to use brown sugar in a recipe, such as for these snickerdoodles, add brown sugar to a bowl with one teaspoon of water and cover with a paper towel. Microwave it in 30-second intervals, stirring the sugar in between.

3. Toast nuts, coconuts, or bread crumbs


Photo by Kirby Barth

Evenly spread your nuts/bread crumbs/coconut flakes on a microwave safe plate in one-minute intervals for four to five minutes.

4. Microwave two bowls at once

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To heat multiple bowls at once, place a tall cup underneath one of the bowls, as shown in the picture above.

5. Soften butter


Photo by Kristin Arbutina

If you’ve ever needed softened butter for a recipe but realized that you forgot to put it at room temperature, this is for you. Just pop butter into a microwave and microwave it in ten-second intervals.

6. Make hard taco shells

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Place soft taco shells into a mug and microwave for one minute. Hello, Taco Tuesdays.

7. Heat food evenly

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Avoid rectangular containers because heat is distributed unevenly to the corners.

8. Keep food moist


Photo by Delissa Handoko

Place a glass filled with water next to your leftovers when reheating to prevent them from getting dry. No more chewy pizza crusts.

9. Prevent yourself from crying when cutting onions


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All you need to do is cut off the ends and microwave them for 30 seconds.

10. Dry herbs


Photo by Hannah Lin

Spread herbs onto a paper towel and microwave for three minutes.

11. Make foam from milk


Photo by Meredith Simmons

Who needs Starbucks when all you need to do is shake milk in a jar for 30 seconds and microwave it for a minute?

12. Test if a container is microwave safe


Photo by Molly Silverman

Pour cold water into a microwave safe mug and place it on top of the container that you want to test. Microwave it for 20 seconds. If the container is hotter than the mug, it’s not microwave safe.

13. Make poached eggs


Photo by Ashton Caudle

Get a bowl and fill it with water and a splash of vinegar. Microwave it for three minutes and crack an egg into the bowl. Microwave for one more minute.

14. Clean itself


Photo by Kristine Auble

Pop wet paper towels into the microwave for four minutes (add lemon juice to paper towels for a better scent). Then using an oven mitt, clean microwave with paper towels.

15. Make healthified veggie (or potato) chips


Photo by Alex Tom

Lay out your vegetable (such as kale, carrots, or spinach) on a paper towel and microwave for 5 minutes. Flip over and microwave it on the other side for three more minutes.

16. Disinfect your cutting boards


Photo by Cheryl Ching

Halve a lemon and rub your cutting board with the lemon half. Microwave for one minute.

17. Get gum out of clothing


Photo by Abigail Wang

To get rid of gum stuck on your clothing, microwave vinegar for a minute and apply on gum.

18. Ripen an avocado


Photo by Irina Chalaguina

Poke holes into an avocado with a fork and wrap a paper towel around it. Microwave in 30-second intervals.

19. Sterilize glass jars


Photo by Cheryl Ching

Put jars in the microwave with a small amount of water (about an inch) inside. Heat for about two minutes.