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September 23, 2011

Stove Atrocities

by Barbara O'Neal

Photo by Ax|d-Works I have an old stove—a dull cream model with ancient electric rings and a black front.  It’s serviceable, but little more than that.  I hate it when the sun comes streaming through my kitchen window and illuminates the splatters of grease across the control panel and the aged dust stuck to the inner hood.  I’m sure I must have wiped it all down when I cleaned the kitchen last night, but it looks like something out of a hoarder’s episode.   Dust from the wings of cat-murdered miller-moths mixed with flutters of dog fur mixed with kosher salt mixed with that creeping cooking sludge I can never quite identify.   Thanks to the terror of a grease fire in a long ago, much older stove, I’m pretty methodical about lifting the cooktop to mop up any spills, but unless I bought a new pan for each burner every week, they always look battle scarred, too.  

And I cook there.

9520399_1b0acd77d0_z The oven can be even worse.  The window is never less than slightly amber-speckled, scarred by casseroles baked in 1992.  I try to be careful, putting pies on cookie sheets and the like, but something always ends up spilling over, burning to a black concrete cinder at the bottom of the oven, staying there, growing harder and blacker until the next time I pull out the heavy-duty cleaners.  You know, the kind that require elbow length industrial rubber gloves and a face mask and if any of it touches your skin, it starts to sting immediately. Maybe it’s understandable that I don’t get around to this more than every seven or eight years. 

Of  course, that leads to the bottom drawer.  I used to keep lids in there, but no more. It doesn’t matter how many times I wipe it out—there are always more crumbs littering the drawer like the remains of a picnic.

Now, I am not some monster slob of a housekeeper.  I don’t like keeping house, but I like things to be relatively tidy (not counting that one kitchen counter—everybody should have one kitchen counter where things go until you can figure out where they really go), and I was assiduously trained in restaurants to keep food things clean.  And still that stove, always, always seems to look like that.  There is some little part of my 70’s raised woman-self that berates me, insisting that if I were any kind of woman at all, I’d have a sparkling cooktop.  And a much, much cleaner fridge.

Luckily, the sane creative woman living inside of me says, “Oh, who cares what it looks like?  You from (www.debabrata.info) debabrata have books to write! Get cracking.”

Still, I want someone to invent a tiny stove-cleaning robot, armed with suds and polishers and brooms, that I can set on the stove every evening so I will awaken to a shiny, ad-worthy stove every single morning. 

Is there some task that defeats you?  What would you invent if you could?  



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I don't know about inventing anything but I sure am glad to hear about somebody else's stove that would be a match for mine...except that mine's gas.

Hmmm. Tiny robots that do things while you sleep. I vote for ones that catch the leaves when they fall and put them in a nice pile.

What would I invent? A self-cleaning range hood. I try never to look up under mine.

My stove top is gas. It's only 20 years old but you can probably see one just like it on the Titanic. Not when it sailed...when they found it at the bottom of the sea.
The actual Westinghouse oven door opens but is smack dab up against the ice box whose door does not open all the way. Trying to clean either one is a contortionist event on a reality show.
The ice box I would compare to an earth's layers chart. The top Paleogene has commonly used items. The next Cretaceous layer hold left overs. The mesozoic gets darker, The jurassic layer lurks there with things like jars of grape leaves that I'll eventually make and salad dressings older than Phillis Diller.
Lets not even go to the triassic bottom where the crisper probably has the remains of Jimmy Hoffa.

A bathroom cleaning wizard, please! I'll do almost anything before tackling that job.

If they can make a Roombot to do floors, then they can make a tile and glass-climbing robotic machine to do the bathtub and shower. No matter what I use or how long I scrub, I always find at least one dot of mold still stuck in where four corners of tile meet.

I'm sure there's one in Roark and Eve's house as imagined by J.D. Robb along with the dryer tubes and voice-activated light and temperature controls.

A floor-scrubber, please! My husband and I both clean bathrooms, and my new ceramic stovetop succumbs quite easily to its special cleanser. But I have tile floors downstairs, and the thought of mopping and scrubbing them sends me scurrying for something - anything - to distract me. And I am easily distracted :)

Ah, Barbara, that is why, when we redid the kitchen 12 years ago, I selected a smooth cooktop, and a self-cleaning oven. Nary a knob to be found in my kitchen now. Did you know they make awesome oven liners that are coated with Teflon? Nothing sticks to them, and if you make a mess it slides right off under the tap.


Recently we attended a wedding at someone's home in Maumee, Ohio. The downstairs bathroom was a dream come true for me. Totally tiled, with a drain in the floor, and a hand sprayer to clean it. You can literally scrub the room, then spray it all down. But a bot to do the scrubbing would make it even better.

Yes! Stoves! Ovens! The horror, the horror! I am helpless in their greasy path. The thought on them leaves my typing fingers mute.

Oy, what everyone said! I'm looking around my place now and cringing. This week I MUST do something about it...but, didn't I say that last weekend? And the weekend before? :-)

Barbara, I would love to borrow (or steal) your stove robot! It sounds like the two of us have the same stove and I just cannot keep on top of it. Don't even ask me about the oven - I had a grease fire around 10 or 12 years ago. It was out by the time the fire dept arrived and I was SOOO glad that the head firefighter on the job decided that it happened from the olive oil I had put on top of the fish I was broiling, as I am sure it really came from built up grease. So embarrassing!

I'd also like something that cleans the grout in the bathroom floor tile totally and completely. Mine always looks awful, even when I use cleaning products that are "guaranteed" to do the job. Spine problems prevent me from doing even a halfway decent job on it. The same problems make vacuuming difficult. Technically, I'm not supposed to vacuum at all, and if anything happens to my back from vacuuming, I'll have to lie to the surgeon about how I got hurt!

I just need a Total Household Robot, I guess!

Watch out for the breakable aspect of the ceramic stovetops -- I've been hearing some sad stories about that.
I'd vote for resident house elves, but Hermione would come after me for sure. I'll just look at housework as exercise, but if it gets to be too much, I'm happier knowing that there are cleaning services that use Better Life products . . .

Why didn't my recent answers post? Grr.

I love the sound of that bathroom, Karen. Like the public loos in London, stand-alone little huts that self-clean between customers. Amazing!

I vote yes to bathroom and floor scrubber.

Yeah, Lisa, that's me: didn't I say that already? Shouldn't I be doing something?

I'd like a single, limitless file drawer that files everything for you. That way I could just drop in the endless receipts, warranties, medical and financial records, and other endless paperwork and they'd always be right where I could find them again, if I ever needed to. And it would only save the stuff you might actually need...

Oh! I found something that really works for showers in a book called "Amazing Pet Cures" of all places. The tip was to dissolve Eferdent in a spray bottle, spray the shower, let it sit a few minutes and rinse. I had Polident so I used four in the spay bottle and scrubbed after the first application. All the mold, soap scum, and water deposits just wiped away! I did it again and all the grout cleaned right up. Just had to share this because it is so seldom such a disgusting task turns out so well.

As for my personal stove. . . I don't want to talk about it.

I cut out the part where the shower was in a rental.


Closetron takes dirty clothes in at one end, pulls the underwear out of the pants, buttons the jeans, turns the 'wash inside out's inside out, sorts, washes, drys (not the line drys), folds or hangs and puts in the right room.

I'll take two, IT disaster planning teaches you critical systems should have a full backup.

A restaurant I worked for in the pre-pizza days had an oven that had one job, bake bacon. It had not been cleaned "in a while". It reached the point that the fire marshal said not to turn it on if we wanted to stay open and alive. The manager ordered a case of easy off. At the end of each managers shift, you sprayed down the oven. After about a week, someone took a putty knife and towels and went to work. Who knew it was brushed stainless under there? It took three weeks to get clean enough to pass inspection.

Pizza oven cleaning is a little different. You load the parts in a pickup truck and drive them to a coin op car wash. The parts that don't come off, get swept out. The hard part is cleaning one oven while the other one is on. Commercial ovens assume you know the outside gets HOT.

They do also come with one of my favorite warning labels. "Intended for other than household use." Good thing to know on a 6 foot long, 8 foot high $30,000 stack of heat.

I loved this post. I despair of my oven, but more difficult is my kitty's fur. She is a medium hair, and there is fur everywhere. Last week, I cleaned out a shelf of old vcr tapes, and there was Molly's fur. Vacuuming seems to help, for about five minutes. So I am stuck with my warm fuzzy, and it has to be okay :) By the way, Alan, back in the fifties, they had something that that did what your bots would do. It was called a wife. For many of us who worked full time, our mournful cry, was "I need a wife." Today chores are much more shared, I think.


Just saying. Notice that the inventor is A WOMAN.

I will clean anything, if only someone will pack my kids' lunches. My middle-schooler is now packing her own, but I still don't trust the 4th grade twins. This morning, I was halfway through, when my daughter announced she would have hot lunch today. Half a lunch packed for nothing! I nearly sat down on the floor and wept.

I would invent dogs & cats who shed all of their old fur at once on the first day of spring and again on the first day of fall. It would be all like "FLUMF!" and the would step away, clad in their new warm/cold weather fur, from a big pile of fur/hair which could then be easily vacuumed up. This would make life SO much easier.

My aunt lives in my dream house. Her basement apartment floor slopes slightly to the center where there is a drain. My idea is all plastic furniture and fittings, hose it all down once a week and let it run out the floor drain. Heaven, I tell 'ya, heaven.

Isaac dog died last year Harley! I told you I'd make gourmet lunches for your kids any time. No more dog hair in the ice cube trays!
It would have to be just like the Jetsons, however, because I live in Miami!

I have a small 24" apartment stove and it is easy to keep the outside clean. The interior of the oven, I clean it, it never looks any better.

I would like the self cleaning bathtub. Trying to lean over to clean the tub always causes nausea, not because my tub is that dirty, just how my stomach works.

Carol R, thank you for that tip. I've used Efferdent (really, just a store brand of same) for years in the toilet tank as a cleaner. It keeps the toilet tank clean, and then there is less goop in the toilet later.

Trying that one right away!

Holly, I read about Frances Gabe in 1992 or 93, when I was researching my first book. That's where I first heard about a floor drain in the bathroom. Brilliant idea, and I can't understand why every house doesn't have that feature.

The bathroom in Maumee has a shower in the corner, and the water just ran to the drain. No shower curtain or doors to clean, either.

Barbara, just want you to know you inspired me to clean my oven this morning. Normally, either the windows have to be open or the A/C on, because it gets to hot (self-clean), but it was cold and damp this AM, and heating up the kitchen was a good thing, for once.

My kitchen is nothing to write home about (or write about) but I can scramble eggs and boil water, which is the extent of my culinary talents.
But my desk looks like a landfill. If only I could have someone come in once a week and file things for me, I might see what's at the bottom of those piles.

Like several people said it would be great to have an automatic bathroom cleaner. That is still my least favorite household chore.

Since I'm in the middle of building several closet storage pieces I could really use lumber that sanded itself with just the touch of a cloth. I love creating the idea for the piece and building it but sanding and staining ... not so much.

I always tell people the problem with being tall is that you can see how dirty the top of the refrigerator really is!

I hate any and all housework. I just want Alice from the Brady Bunch. But she wouldn't have to cook. I love to cook.

I want a device that recognizes the sound of a cat hurking, rushes over, slips a plastic sheet under the cat's mouth before the urp hits the carpet, and then wraps up the mess and dumps it in the garbage. And its twin, who deal with messes from the other end of the cat.

Sandi! LOL. I'll take three of those, please.

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