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7 Times the How-Tos are Helpful

Instruction manuals—who needs them, amirite? Sure, you might give it a perfunctory glance after opening a new toy, but once you’ve figured out the basics (like, how to turn it on), you typically toss the user guide and assume you’ll figure it out as you go along.

Well, get ready to kick yourself, because Flickr user joeclark recently uploaded a bunch of dishwasher manuals to the photo-sharing site… and it turns out, there’s actually some useful stuff in there! That includes diagrams showing exactly how to load the top and bottom dishwasher racks—thereby ending a fight that’s been plaguing couples since the appliance became a household staple. (Read Why a Bad Relationship Is Worse Than No Relationship for Your Health.) 

Our minds were thoroughly blown. So we decided to round up the other times reading the instructions can pay off.

When Assembly Is Required
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They're not always super-helpful, but at least if you read the guide before you start building, you can know for sure that those extra parts are just spares—and not something essential that’s going to result in the entire bookshelf toppling over in a few weeks.

After Buying a New Car
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At the very least, familiarize yourself with the vehicle alerts. The worst time to try to figure out whether that blinking, beeping light means your tire pressure is low or your engine is about to fail is while you’re speeding down the highway, already late to work. (Discover the Commute That Makes You Happiest.)

When You Buy New Tech
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Apple products famously don’t require an instruction manual, but when you get a new camera or activity tracker, reading the user’s guide is almost always worth it. Otherwise you risk missing out on cool key features. (Wait, this thing has night vision mode?) (Check out the Latest Fit Tech from the Consumer Electronics Show.)

Before Washing New Clothes
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Stop overlooking the laundry label! Following the proper care instructions helps clothes last longer. And even if you go on to ignore them, knowing what you should be doing helps you take safer shortcuts. (I.e., ‘Air dry only’ isn’t happening—but at least you’ll start using low instead of high heat.) (Learn 4 Ways to Keep Your Gym Clothes Clean and Fresh.)

Before Getting Anything Repaired
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Owner’s manuals often contain warranty information, and you may be surprised by what’s covered. The last thing you want to do is toss something for being broken—only to find out later that it was eligible for a replacement under a lifetime guarantee.

Before Taking Meds
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Before popping that first pill, make sure you’re clear on the dosing instructions: how many pills to take at once, when to take them, and any other guidelines. If your antibiotic instructions say to take with meals, for example, taking it on an empty stomach can impair its absorption—and by extension, its effectiveness. (Check out these Surprising Medicine Mistakes You Could Be Making.) 

Before Using Anything That Could Kill You If It Misfires
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Ask yourself: If I use this the wrong way, could it hurt or kill me/my loved ones/my pets? If you answer yes, it’s probably worth it to give the instruction manual a read. Or just asking a professional for help.

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