/ Home & Energy

Unusual ways to use the usual home appliances

Home appliances usually have just one core function, leaving other appliances to do their own specific jobs. But sometimes, just sometimes, you find an appliance that can do so much more…

When you buy a waffle maker for your home, you’re probably expecting one thing: waffles! So when Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman used his wife’s waffle iron in 1971 to experiment with rubber soles for footwear, he probably wasn’t expecting to start one of the biggest sporting brands on the planet. But that’s exactly what happened.

While most of our humble household appliances are not going to help us earn millions of pounds, I’m sure we’ve all had our moments of glory when our appliances have become legends in their own right. So, we’d love to hear how you’ve found creative (and safe) uses for your home appliances.

Unusual uses

A quick email sent around the Which? office asking ‘which appliances do you use unusually?’ led to quite an astounding response. There were some brilliant ideas, some strange ideas, and some ideas that come with a warning: don’t try this at home!

So, for some ideas that you may not have considered (and probably don’t want to), here’s how we’ve broken the mold by using:

  • a steamer to make a Victoria sponge cake
  • a George Foreman grill for toasting raised focaccias
  • an ice cream maker to make a frozen cocktail
  • a hand blender for scrambling eggs
  • a slow cooker for making rice pudding
  • a freezer as a cocktail cabinet
  • a breadmaker to make jam, pasta and pizza dough
  • a kettle to cook frankfurters (in water)

Dust off your appliances

Now, if you’re used to packing an appliance away in the cupboard for months at a time, I hope I’ve inspired you to bring it out a little sooner to solve some wider domestic issues.

And now it’s time to share your own ‘out of the box’ moments. Have you found any unusual uses for your common household appliances? And if you’ve found an unusual use be sure to only share safe and practical examples here.


About 10 years ago one of my customers plumbed his dishwasher in-to the Gas mains supply with thous DIY self boring taps? He’s first attempt was to connect the dishwasher to the flow of the gas central heating system and then on his second attempt he successfully connected it to the gas pipe?

Thankfully, metal conduit is not used for domestic electricity wiring.

This has to be the most amusing Conversation on this site at the moment. So many crack-me-up laughs. Beats turbines to a frazzle.

Nice to have a break, aye?

Carol Bunn says:
12 June 2012

Cardmaking – heat embossing. Until I was able to buy a craft heat gun to melt the embossing powder, I used to hold the card with the embossing powder image over the toaster and it melted the powder perfectly. (Of course you can’t turn the card over, which you can to get a less smooth image by using a craft heat gun or the powder would fall into the toaster and you would have a right mess.)

You can also use an iron (with the steam turned off) to heat an image stamp once you have placed a craft product made for the job over the stamp, it doesn’t take long and the image of the stamp is transferred to the craft material, and with rubber stamps and some specialized clear stamps, there is no damage to the stamp.

I’ve also started using washing tablets etc. boxes as ‘altered art’ (which just means you are doing up something that would normally be put in the bin. I’ve painted them and laid squared/oblong pieces of paper (smaller than the area painted so both will show). I added a tassel to the front of the lid of the box and then decorated the top with paper flowers. It looks stunning and I’ve got orders for more.

I need to laminate A3 sheets and now I’m retired I don’t have easy access to a large laminator. I do not want to buy one to use only once or twice a year. Could I do a decent job with an iron, sandwiching the lamination pouch between a couple of tea towels, or would aluminium sheet be better?

Our early Parnall washing machine [c1954] had a massive and very powerful wringer. It worked directly off a shaft connected to the agitator motor with a mechanical gearing [forward – stop – reverse]. I reckon that if you did a really hot wash and wrung out about twenty double sheets the rollers would be hot enough to seal the laminating pouch perfectly, especialy if you kept the boiling water in the tub beneath the wringer. If only we could travel in time and use our modern accessories in yesterday’s appliances.

Unfortunately my washing machine is one of these new-fangled automatic machines, even though it is 30 years old. You have given me the idea of using a heated roller to seal lamination pouches, but unfortunately my rolling pin has plastic handles, which might not survive being put in the oven.

financial cell says:
28 June 2012

just gone through this article

How to make safe use of household appliances

Chris says:
1 July 2012

A friend puts a freshly plucked cannabis leaf in her microwave for a short time to dry it out enough to crumble into her roll-up.

Chris says:
1 July 2012

When doing woodwork, shelves, beehives etc, I wax the wood using an electric iron in one hand and a lump of beeswax in the other. The wood, when warmed up, opens its pores slightly allowing wax to penetrate. The application of elbow grease before it hardens provides a permanent good looking surface that never needs any other attention apart from an occasional dusting.
When next using the iron on clothing, put a sheet of kitchen towelling betwixt iron and garment until you are sure that any residual wax has gone.
It isn’t every month that I iron clothes. If flat clothes went out of fashion they could probably close several power stations!

Chris says:
1 July 2012

My tumble drier is currently used as a platform upon which are a barrel of cider and another of cyser, and a scattering of fossils I have collected. It is the biggest part of a decade since it has been used for the original purpose. In terms of food (drink) miles the cider has travelled about as far as one could toss a biscuit.

Chris says:
1 July 2012

Do coat hangers count as household appliances? I have a pair which support 4 horizontal bamboo poles. They hang below pulleys on cord strategically knotted. In my conservatory the device dries washing when the weather outside is not suitable. Total cost under a fiver for poles, pulleys and cord.

My husband once used toothpaste when he ran out of polyfilla

Thankfully my dentist isn’t interested in DIY.

Doreen, we sometimes run out of toothpaste. Does this work the other way round? 😀 or 😐

. . . only if you never want to eat or speak again. Best not to kiss your wife until it sets.

I rescue anything that might be useful before disposing of household items. My garage and workshop have accumulated a good collection of ‘potentially useful junk’ over the years. 🙂 Beside the spare wheel in my car are two short lengths of hardwood rod. These are a snug fit in the wheel hubs and make it very easy to position the spare wheel before inserting the studs, if I have a puncture. I can’t remember what my handy bits of wood started off life as, but it was some household item.