Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Housecleaning Follies

I have kept it no secret that one of the reasons I was the one who was chosen to go out and earn a salary is because housecleaning is not my forte. My standards are high; my technique is amateur; my working tempo is largo. It is difficult for me to walk away unless perfection reigns. Perfection never reigns so I perpetually feel behind and substandard and spend an eon getting there.

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.


Anonymous said...

Hey, you set a goal and accomplished it, and now you know how to do it better next time. No shame in that!

For the grates of the vent, you may need a stronger degreaser than vinegar, maybe a soak in Dawn detergent water or several sprays of Awesome brand cleaner from Dollar Tree ($1). I started using it for tough/greasy jobs after I got behind a professional cleaner buying cartload at Dollar Tree.


Anonymous said...

PS It has been my experience that if it's been a really long time between cleanings, a few spritzes of vinegar will not be enough to get the job done!

The Sojourner said...

I'm with Anonymous. If the last time you cleaned the microwave was before Marian was born, it could very well have been a 3-hour job! But if you're doing it every week or every couple of weeks, a quick spritz should do it.

And the grease in the grate is not even there. It is dead to you. :p (I am VERY meticulous. Like, pathologically so. I repeat many times "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good" and "It doesn't have to be CLEAN, it just has to be CLEANER.")