Dryers, disposals, and onions

So, I’ll be posting some different life hacks to this blog, and I thought I’d start with some common ones. Here are some tricks on dealing with dryers, garbage disposals, and onions. I recognize that the third item should start with “D”, but I just learned such a great trick about onions that I had to include it in this post. And who doesn’t need a good trick for chopping onions?

Dryers:

  1. How to dry things quickly: Toss a dry towel into the machine along with your wet clothes from the washer. The towel will absorb some of the water, making your clothes dry much faster than the ordinarily wood. Also, in addition to removing link from your the dryer vent after each load, vacuum your dryer vent once a month or so. Put any sort of nozzle attachment on your vacuum hose, pull out the lint vent, and stick the hose in about an inch or two – you’ll be surprised at how much extra link is lurking around there, gunking up your dryer’s insides and slowing it down.
  2. How to dry bulky items/down/pillows/etc.: If you’re drying anything where the you want to make sure the insides are distributed evenly (a down coat, a comforter, etc.), put a tennis ball in the dryer with your items. The tennis ball will bounce against the items and cause the filling to distribute evenly. This also works great to fluffen up a lumpy pillow, or to make towels come out softer. Do not do this while your children are sleeping, as it makes a very loud noise (think hammers).
  3. How to get out wrinkles: We’ve all left laundry sitting in the dryer for too long, or in a big heap of clean clothes on top of the dresser (What me? Do that? You mean I don’t always immediately fold my laundry with perfect corners and then put it away?!). This is where you need a wet towel. Wet your towel (a hand towel will generally do), wring it out so it’s not sopping wet, and toss it into the dryer with your wrinkled items for ~10 minutes. Viola, no more wrinkles.

Disposals:

  1. How to eventually break your garbage disposal: Puting lettuce, cabbage, or anything with a lot of big leaves down your garbage disposal will eventually result in enough leaves plastering the insides that it will get stuck. Never having had a garbage disposal until this house, I did not know this. My in-laws did, and to this day they make fun of me for it.
  2. How to make your sink less smelly: If your stink smells bad, something is probably stuck in the garbage disposal. Run it for a few minutes with very hot water. If this still doesn’t work, pour about a quarter cup of baking soda down the disposal, let it sit for 15 minutes, and then repeat the aforementioned running.

Onions:

  1. How to not cry while cutting an onion (or to cry less): Put your onion in the freezer about five minutes before you’re going to start using it. The cold causes the cells to contract. If you’re like me and never remember this until you actually need the onion, put your cutting board in the sink under the coldest running water you can stand, and cut it while the cold water is running over it.
  2. How to perfectly dice or mince an onion, and do it quickly: I took a cooking class this weekend and just learned what the instructor called “the crosshatch technique” and I can’t believe I’d never heard of it before. It’s what it sounds like – split the onion, and chop it both vertically and hortizonally (cross-hatch) about three-quarters of the way, leaving the root intact to hole it all together until the end. I tried typing out a better explanation but that would’ve resulted in leading many of you to lose a digit, so here’s a one-minute Gordon Ramsey video that explains it far more neatly than I ever could:
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