Microwaving nuts is a quick way to roast them next time you're in a bind. Credit: Natalie Williams / BDN

When you think microwave, you probably think about heating up leftovers or popping popcorn. But the uses of microwaves go far beyond reheating last night’s takeout. The high-power tool can be creatively utilized for crafts, cleaning and other tasks in your home kitchen.

Here are 7 things you didn’t know you could do with a microwave that can save you time and resources, or bring a bit of fun into your afternoon.

Dry herbs

Drying fresh herbs is a great way to preserve a bountiful harvest, or even just an extra-large bundle from the grocery store. You can hang herbs in a dry location for a long period of time or buy an expensive dehydrator to do so — or, simply stick them in the microwave for a quick, inexpensive alternative. Simply sandwich several stems of herbs between two paper towels and microwave 30-second intervals (four to six bursts should do the trick) until the leaves crumble easily, and store in the cool, dry location with your other spices.

Press flowers

Pressing flowers may make you think of big books or antique-looking presses, but the process can be made easier with the help of a microwave. Microwave pressing flowers also helps preserve the color better than some of the longer-term alternatives. Put your flower between two pieces of parchment paper, blotter paper or patternless paper towel, two pieces of cardboard and two tiles with a gloss finish. Microwave the whole apparatus in 30 second bursts, wiping the tiles in between bursts, until the flower is completely dry.

Make soap

Looking for an afternoon craft or a DIY beauty project? Using a microwave makes the homemade soap making process much faster and easier if you use clear and solid glycerin as a base, as it breaks apart easily and melts quickly in the microwave.

Revive hardened brown sugar

When brown sugar is exposed to air, the molasses in it evaporates and the sugar crystals stick together and harden. To revive its soft texture, place hardened brown sugar in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with wet paper towel, tightly cover with plastic wrap and heat in the for a few minutes in the microwave on high. Then, break up the hot sugar with a fork, and there you have it: fluffy brown sugar, ready to be used.

Make dessert

That’s right — no oven needed for this scrumptious dessert. If you have a microwave, a blender and four simple ingredients, and you can satiate your sweet tooth with this recipe for Pots Au Chocolate.

Toast nuts

Whether you’re preparing hazelnuts for a sweet treat or almonds in a savory dish, toasting nuts is a great way to bring out their flavor for recipes. You can roast nuts in a pan or in the oven, but you can also quickly do it in the microwave. Spread the nuts on a microwave-safe plate or shallow dish and microwave on 100 percent power about two to three minutes until fragrant.

Sanitize sponges

Ok, this may not be a fun thing to do, but sponges are definitely one of the things you should be sanitizing that you might have forgotten about. A 2017 study found that sponges are the dirtiest place in your house — even dirtier than the toilet bowl — with an average of over 54 billion bacterial cells. Save yourself from all that bacteria by microwaving the sponge in a bowl covered with water on high for about thirty seconds after every (or, realistically, almost every) use. Even still, you should swap sponges every week for maximum cleanliness.

Microwaves are useful tools for crafts, cooking and other household tasks. Make the most of your microwave to see for yourself.