It just so happens that late last week, I decided our microwave and stove needed thoroughly degreased and cleaned. I don't have a great before picture. Pretend this is it:
I have a history with cleaning microwaves. When I took time off of work before Marian was born, I desperately spent two hours cleaning every crevice of our microwave after I had cried bitter tears over the fact the midwife was going to see our dirty microwave. This was the sum total of my nesting activity.
I put together a cleaning solution of vinegar and dishsoap, zapped it in the microwave, and commenced with scrubbing every surface of the microwave, starting at the top. Order of operations, of course. I soaked a washcloth and worked until I needed to rinse and resoak the washcloth. Repeat until my bowl of solution was empty and then mix up some more. As I worked, I kept remarking that the vinegar was burning my hands. I would rinse my hands in some water and then soldier on.
After working for 90 solid minutes, I had to quit, but I sadly was not done. Here is the microwave in its sad, half finished condition.
The grate left soaking in the sink:
This grate vexes me. There is grease in there. I see it. It needs to be scrubbed away. It won't dissolve on its own. My fingers are too big to get in there. I know it is still dirty. I *know* it is. I don't need to spend multiple hours figuring out how to clean what I cannot reach, right? Right?
The next day and the next, I could not finish the job. Then a strange thing began to happen: my hands began to peel. I may or may not have inadvertently given my hands a chemical peel with the vinegar. My skin may have been peeling so badly that it may or may not have been referred to as "hand dandruff."
I learned my lesson. Soaking bare skin in soap and vinegar for over an hour is maybe not a good idea. I decided I needed kitchen gloves. At the grocery, I picked up a fashionable pair. On sale!
Now I could finish the job!
I scrubbed for probably another hour. Dave could smell the vinegar wafting out of the house as he drove by on the lawn mower. I broke off the lightbulb underneath as I unscrewed it to change it out. After a while, I deemed the job 'good enough.' It is not perfect. The lightbulb base needs removed and replaced. There is still grease in the grate that I cannot reach, but I will not make perfect the enemy of good. I consider the microwave finished.
Isn't it beautiful! I probably spent three hours working on it. Sigh. I never claimed efficiency, but it is clean.
So I regaled a friend with the tale of the epic microwave cleaning and she wondered exactly how much vinegar I was using. I showed her my bowl that I filled with vinegar solution multiple times in the course of the job.
After regaining her ability of speech, she told me I should just spritz it on with a spray bottle, let it rest a minute, and then wipe it up. That I shouldn't need more than a 1/4 cup of vinegar to get the job finished. Apparently using a quart of vinegar to clean a microwave is overkill. Um, oops?
And now I know.