15 Commonly Misused Kitchen Tools (And How To Unlock Their Potential)

Things In The Kitchen You're Using The Wrong Way

When you’ve been cooking for as long as I have, it’s easy to feel like you already know everything there is to know about the stuff in your kitchen. But in reality, you may be using your kitchen items incorrectly without even knowing it!

In this post, we’ll explore 15 kitchen items that are often either used incorrectly, or aren’t utilized to their fullest extent. Not only will you learn some new things about your kitchen tools, but you’ll also learn how to keep a cleaner, more functional, and more efficient kitchen!

Related:  The One Simple Fix You Need To Know If You Have A Stand Mixer

15 Kitchen Items You’re Using The Wrong Way

Kitchen Items You're Using Incorrectly

1. Kitchen Knives

A knife is a knife is a knife, right? Not necessarily! Some knives are better suited to different tasks, such as using a serrated knife to cut homemade bread without accidentally smashing it. Serrated knives are also great for cutting soft produce items like tomatoes and strawberries.

Kitchen Items You're Using Incorrectly

Another knife that many people overlook is the paring knife. In addition to cutting small items, you can also use your paring knife to peel fruits and vegetables, remove seeds, and even de-vein shrimp.

Kitchen Items You're Using Incorrectly

2. Dishwasher

Where you place your dishes inside your dishwasher makes a big difference! A study published in Chemical Engineering Journal found that dishes with carb-based residues (like potatoes, pasta, etc.) are cleaned more thoroughly when placed near the center of the machine. The study also concluded that dishes with protein-based residues (like meat, cheese, etc.) should be placed around the edges of your dishwasher for optimal cleaning.

Related: 11 Dishwasher Do’s And Don’ts You Need To Know

Kitchen Items You're Using Incorrectly

3. Food Processor

Some people use their food processor and blender interchangeably, but they’re actually better suited to different tasks. Food processors are best when used to chop up solid, dry foods or make chunky sauces.

Kitchen Items You're Using Incorrectly

4. Blender

Your blender, on the other hand, is a helpful tool for making smooth soups, sauces, and beverages. But blenders can struggle if you don’t add your ingredients in the right order, so start with your liquids first, then add smaller ingredients. Layer large ingredients on top, then add the hardest ingredients last (like ice or vegetable stalks).

Kitchen Items You're Using Incorrectly

5. Refrigerator

Many people use the shelves in the door of their fridge to store things like milk and juice for easy access. But this isn’t a great idea, because the door shelves are one of the warmest parts of your fridge.

Instead, it’s better to use those door shelves to store things like condiments, water, and shelf-stable juices, since these items don’t need to be kept quite as cold. Store your milk and fresh juices on the main shelves of your fridge to make sure they stay cold.

Kitchen Items You're Using Incorrectly

Another factor that affects the temperature of your fridge is how much food you have in it. It’s fine to have a lot of food in your fridge, as long as there is enough space between items to allow air to circulate. If air can’t circulate, your items won’t get sufficiently cold and may even spoil!

Kitchen Items You're Using Incorrectly

6. Garlic Press

If you own and use a garlic press, you may be surprised to learn that you don’t actually have to peel your garlic cloves before pressing them. The garlic “skins” will stay inside the press, and only the good parts will get pushed through the holes.

Kitchen Items You're Using Incorrectly

7. Freezer

Most people don’t use their freezers nearly often enough. It’s a great place to store your leftovers so they stay fresh for longer. Using your freezer often will help you cut down on food waste, and less food waste means keeping more money in your pocket!

Related: 20 Ways To Use Your Freezer To Save Time & Money

Kitchen Items You're Using Incorrectly

8. Garbage Disposal

It seems instinctive to use hot water when you’re operating your garbage disposal, but cold water is often the better choice. Hot water causes many foods to melt, and melty foods can stick to the disposal blades and to the inside of your pipes. Cold water keeps food solid, and solid foods are much easier to crush and rinse away.

Kitchen Items You're Using Incorrectly

9. Stand Mixer

Most people who use a stand mixer don’t know that you can actually adjust the height of your paddle attachment. It should rest a few millimeters above the bowl; any higher and it won’t mix properly, and any lower and it will scratch up your bowl. Learn how to adjust this setting when necessary.

Kitchen Items You're Using Incorrectly

10. Microwave

In order to use your microwave properly, you should know the wattage of your particular model. The wattage is how much power your microwave produces and it affects how quickly food cooks. Many frozen food labels suggest different time recommendations based on wattages, so it’s important to know yours. You can find it in your microwave’s User Manual, or on the front or back of your microwave.

Kitchen Items You're Using Incorrectly

11. Oven

Opening your oven door while cooking or baking can be a risky move, because the temperature in your oven can drop up to 130°F every time you do it. This temperature swing can cause disastrous results, like collapsing cakes and undercooked food. If you need to open the oven door during the cooking process, do it as quick as you can to minimize the temperature drop.

Kitchen Items You're Using Incorrectly

Additionally, the drawer underneath your oven may actually be more useful than you had thought! Depending on your oven’s make and model, that drawer may be for storage, warming, or even broiling. Read your oven’s User Manual to find out what your oven drawer should be used for, and how to make the most of it.

Kitchen Items You're Using Incorrectly

12. Slow Cooker

Much like the oven, your slow cooker can suffer a dramatic temperature drop if you lift the lid during cooking. It’s hard to resist the temptation to peek, but your food will be better off if you just leave it alone!

Kitchen Items You're Using Incorrectly

13. Vegetable Peeler

When you use a vegetable peeler, make sure to move the peeler away from you, rather than towards you. Not only is peeling away from you safer, but it also results in a cleaner and neater finished product.

Kitchen Items You're Using Incorrectly

14. Wood Cutting Boards

Moisture and heat can both warp wooden cutting boards, so rather than cleaning it under the faucet or in your dishwasher, use half a lemon and some coarse salt. The salt will scrub away messes, and the lemon will disinfect the surface. After scrubbing, wipe the board clean with a clean cloth, and don’t forget to treat the wood regularly with a cutting board conditioner too.

Kitchen Items You're Using Incorrectly

15. Spaghetti Spoon

The hole in the center of your spaghetti spoon isn’t only for draining; you can also use it for measuring! Slide dry spaghetti through the hole to measure out one serving of noodles.

What’s the most mind-blowing fact you’ve learned about your kitchen items?

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Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Homekeeping Tips

  • If you store food in the freezer long term, you don’t want to mess with freezer bags as you will definitely end up with freezer burn. Get yourself a decent vacuum sealer for the job (I recommend a Weston), and to save money, buy bags in bulk on Amazon. The ones for sale in the stores are grossly overpriced, and the sealers themselves won’t last if you only do a moderate amount of sealing. Otherwise you end up just wasting money and food when you finally throw it out because it’s as dry as cardboard.

  • I know I use my dishwasher the wrong way, as it’s a store all for my crockpot and several large pans. I wash all my dishes by hand so a dishwasher is just not my cup of tea. The only other item I use differently is my veggie peeler. I have always peel my veggies going toward me because I learned to peel potatoes with a knife first and going away from you is foreign. Besides peeling carrots toward you keeps the peel from getting in the way. I know I’m weird but it works for me and I have never cut myself or messed up a potato or a carrot.

  • Another use for the freezer is chips. After you’ve opened your bag of chips, put a clip on the left overs and place the bag in the freezer. The next time you open the bag the chips will taste as fresh as ever.

  • I love this post. It’s very interesting. One thing I’ve discovered with our mixer is to be careful with heavy doughs. I tried it once with a big batch cookie recipe using 2 different types of flours and it was just too much for our mixer. It started to rock on its stand. I’ll have to show this post to my mom. I was telling het about it.

  • Thanks so much for all of these tips! My KitchenAid paddle was way too low so I was able to adjust it correctly! (: Keep up the great work Jillee! (: xoxo

  • Oh my! I don’t know how many beater bars I’ve gone through using my KitchenAid mixer because they hit on the bowl wrong and the paint chips off. That little shaft definitely slips out when I use the mixer, and I’ve always just hammered it back in. I’ll be checking this and getting it tightened up. Your directions are just in the nick of time as I bought a new beater bar today. Thanks, Jillee!

  • Like the post below speaks of removing the smell of garlic from your hands, the same can be done for onions. Simply rinse your hands and then rub them on your stainless faucet. Smell gone…

  • To get rid of garlic smell on your hands rub your hands on stainless steal under running water. My press is stainless steal for this purpose and I also use my kitchen sink.

  • Lemon juice is NOT a disinfectant. Citric acid in the juice has mild disinfectant properties but not enough to ensure that germs are removed from your cutting board, especially if you have used it with raw meat.

  • I never knew you could measure spaghetti using a pasta spoon. Genius! All this time I’ve just been grabbing a handful saying “that looks about right”. Thanks for the tip!

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