This important kitchen appliance does more than just wash pots and pans.

You already know you can load your dishwasher with all sorts of pans, pots, and kitchen gadgets and have them come out sparkling clean. But the convenient dish-washing machine is ideal for more than just scouring dishes and helping you avoid dishpan hands. In fact, you can lighten the load on many of your household chores by using your dishwasher to cut grease, remove grime, and even cook. Yes, cook! Here, are all of the magical things this important appliance can do.

1. Heat up food and keep it warm

Around the holidays, you probably run out of oven space, thanks to the turkeypie, and lasagna. Keep other foods toasty warm by placing trays in the dishwasher and running a drying cycle. Remember, no water!

2. Wash baseball hats

"Whether they're worn every day or only on game day, hats can quickly become sweaty, stinky, and greasy," Molly Maid, a Neighborly company, tells Allrecipes. "To avoid bending them in the washing machine, toss them on the top rack of the dishwasher and run a cold cycle."

The cleaning company recommends a mixture of baking soda and vinegar as a safe and gentle way to clean and deodorize your trusty baseball cap in the dishwasher. But don't run the drying cycle. Instead, let the caps air-dry on the kitchen counter.

3. Freshen up flip-flops

Flip-flops are go-to footwear in warm weather, but they can get dirty, sandy, smelly, and sticky after continued wear during the summer months. "Hook them on a rack, and run a cold cycle — use the baking soda and vinegar mixture here, too — and they will be clean in no time," Molly Maid says. Also, rain boots, water shoes, Crocs, and even canvas sneakers with rubber soles can be safely washed in the dishwasher. Opt for air-drying to avoid shrinkage.

4. Wash the microwave plate

The base plate in the microwave gets a lot of use and is a victim of spills and splatters that can quickly harden and stink up the quick-cooking kitchen appliance. "Next time you load your dishwasher, place the microwave plate on the bottom rack with your other plates and bowls," Molly Maid says. "Get in the habit of doing this once a week."

5. Get grime off of garden tools

Do you have a green thumb, with a bountiful veggie garden in the backyard? If you're growing tomatoes and cucumbers and pruning roses, then your garden tools are definitely dirty. "Hand tools with plastic, ceramic, or rubber handles can get a much-needed wash in the dishwasher," Molly Maid advises. "Dishwasher soap is fine to use in this case."

6. Sanitize your kid's toys

Got a toddler in the house who puts everything in their mouth? No sweat! "You can wash plastic and rubber toys in the dishwasher," according to Fisher-Price. (Again, whip up a baking soda and vinegar solution as the all-natural cleaner.) Load slim toys in the silverware holder and pack in anything else from the toy stash you can fit in the dishwasher so your child's toys get a well-deserved bubble bath. A lingerie bag is great for tiny, plastic building bricks. Be sure to use the drying option setting, because a steam clean can't hurt!

FYI: You can use this cleaning method for plastic or rubber pet toys, too.

Pan fried salmon with vegetables on gray background
Credit: Claudia Totir/Getty Images

7. Cook dinner

Wait, what? You read that right. A hot oven or pan crackling with olive oil and butter isn't the only way to cook salmon. According to this recipe for Salmon in the Dishwasher, you can jazz up salmon filets with olive oil, lemon juice, dried dill, salt, and pepper. Then, seal them in two airtight foil packets. Next, place the packets in the top rack of the dishwasher, and run a hot (soap-free!) cycle, including the drying cycle. Viola! Remove and enjoy your fuss-free, but oh so fancy, fish. You can use flavorings from many other salmon recipes for this technique.

8. Rinse produce

Did you just get back from the farmer's market with a fresh haul? Don't waste time hand-washing veggies and fruit. Instead, load them into the dishwasher and run a cold cycle, no soap and skip the drying setting. After all, there are so many delicious things to cook, bake, and make with fresh fruit and veggies. This shortcut will give you some extra time, and who doesn't need that?

9. Wash sports equipment

Shin guards, knee pads, helmets, and mouth guards can be extra icky after a few strenuous practices and/or games. Slip them into the dishwasher (with that trusty baking soda and vinegar solution), and run a hot cycle. Opt for air-drying. Your athlete will thank you!

10. Cleanse your beauty tools

Remove excess hair from combs and brushes before loading them into the dishwasher. Quickly rinse makeup brushes in the sink, then pop them into the silverware basket. Tweezers, nails tools, and scissors can go in a lingerie bag. You guessed it, baking soda and vinegar is your best friend here, too, but since these are beauty items, a few drops of essential oil (think lavender and mint) can replicate a salon or spa experience for your overworked beautifying tools.