By Christina Andres, Dirk Anton De Beer, and Shraddha Balsubramanium
Cleanliness in the late 19th and early 20th century is deemed the most influential factor in creating an ideal cooking space within the kitchen. Although efficient and exciting at the time of invention, kitchen surfaces and appliances of the past have come a long way, becoming much more efficient overtime. During the “sanitary movement” in the late 19th century, people focused on making homes, especially kitchens, clean and germ-free. Following this movement, books, magazines and marketing efforts aimed at the “modern” housewife with trends to making kitchens more efficient and attractive.
The vacuum cleaner was the first major cleaning device that not only helped keep the floor clean in the kitchen but clean throughout the entire house. Vacuums, or any other cleaning technique, was much more efficient than sweeping the floors with a broom or mop. H. Cecil Booth introduced the first powered vacuum cleaner model using a vacuum tube in 1901. Even though these vacuum tubes were able to suck up a lot of dirt off the ground, they were too large to easily move around. In 1905, Walter Griffiths created the first vacuum cleaner that resembles the popular models that we know today. This model includes the removable pipes that can be used to reach those hard to clean areas. With the invention of the vacuum, kitchens could easily be free of crumbs, instead of trails of dirt left behind when sweeping.
After the invention of the vacuum, the next best cleaning device that was invented was the electric dishwasher in 1913 by the Walk Brothers. In terms of energy and water used, depending of the user, the dishwasher can be more energy-efficient than washing dishes by hand. Not only can the dishwasher be more energy efficient, people can save time themselves and relax more without the hassle of washing all the dishes after each meal. After the prices came down around the 1950s, the dishwasher finally became a household appliance that created ease and efficiency within the household.
The innovative cleaning inventions of the kitchen do not stop at the electric dishwasher. By 1963, General Electric came up with an idea as how to clean the oven efficiently and effectively without having to get on your hands and knees to scrub like mad, maybe to get through the first layer of the petrified crust coating that develops overtime. The self-cleaning oven was able to heat the residue until it carbonized and turned to ash. Although it is called self-cleaning, there is still work involved such as removing any drippings or build-up that come off easily before you turn on the self-clean cycle. And not matter what kind of self-cleaning device you use, past or present, one would have to clean up the residue after the cleaning cycle is over. Although the invention of the self-cleaning oven saves time and energy for the people cleaning, the machines still use a lot of energy and can also give off harmful toxins.
The kitchens of the past give innovators today the foundation for great ideas and ways to improve sanitation not only in the kitchen but throughout the entire home. These machines can teach us ways to be more efficient in time, money and energy as we move forward into the future. We want to have the best appliances to spend less time cooking and cleaning, and more time enjoying a delicious and healthy meal with the family, and most importantly make life simpler.
The Self-Cleaning Kitchen
As the need grew greater for ease, comfort and speed and multifunctioning elements, certain product categories have been developed to serve that need. The robotic vacuum cleaner, and the self-cleaning oven are among those products that were developed to save time, waste and money.
The Robotic Vacuum
In 1997, a Swedish appliance company Electrolux presented the first prototype of a robotic vacuum cleaner. The device, billed as “the world’s first true domestic robot,” sends and receives high-frequency ultrasound to negotiate its way around a room, much as bats do. In the production model, launched in Sweden a few years later, eight microphones receive and measure the returning signals to give the vacuum an accurate picture of the room. It calculates the size of a room by following around the walls for 90 seconds to 15 minutes, after which it begins a zigzag cleaning pattern and turns itself off when in 2002, the American advanced technology company, iRobot launched the Roomba floor vacuuming robot. Initially, iRobot decided to produce 15,000 units and 10,000 more units depending on the success of the launch. The Roomba immediately became a huge consumer sensation. In order to meet the high consumer demand for the Roomba, Brookstone wanted to buy every Roomba available. By the Christmas season, iRobot produced 50,000 units to meet the holiday demand. After this success, major specialty retailers as well as more than 4,000 outlets such as Target, Kohl’s and Linens ‘n Things began to carry the Roomba.
Since 2002, there have been many variations of robotic vacuum cleaners such as the Neato Robotics XV-11 robotic vacuum that uses laser-vision rather than the traditional ultrasound based models. The Dyson Company has been in the process of creating a robotic vacuum that relies on a vision system for navigation.
The Self Cleaning Oven
The term “self-cleaning oven” usually refers to the pyrolytic cleaning method. This type of oven has a smooth enamel coating on the interior walls that makes it easier to remove dirt after it’s reduced to ash by high heat.
Pyrolytic ovens have a timed cleaning cycle, usually ranging from two to four hours. During the cycle, the oven heats to between 900 and 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit (482 to 537.8 degrees Celsius). The heat reduces the baked-on crust and grease to a powder that’s easy to remove. Since the process creates smoke and fumes, some pyrolytic self-cleaning ovens use a catalytic converter in the exhaust vent to eliminate emissions you’ll also find ovens that feature steam cleaning. These are lined with a proprietary enamel coating. When activated by steam and low heat, the walls of the oven release dirt. All you have to do is wipe it away. Steam cleaning is quicker than pyrolytic cleaning — it usually takes less than an hour. The ovens don’t need high temperatures and don’t give off fumes. But they don’t clean as thoroughly as pyrolytic ovens, especially when dealing with baked-on goo. Some ovens feature both pyrolytic and steam cleaning options. You can choose which method you prefer depending on how dirty the oven is.
A different technology known as continuous cleaning was used in older ovens, although it’s less popular today. The idea is to spread out the grease spatter and stains over a wide surface. So the continuous cleaning oven has a rough, porous enamel finish on its interior walls. That enamel contains catalytic substances like metal oxides that help the deposits turn to ash at normal baking temperatures.
Continuous cleaning ovens are most effective for light splatters, but they don’t handle larger spills very well. If you have one, you should take precautions, such as putting a layer of foil on the bottom of the oven when baking anything that might spill. And wipe up any substantial grime as soon as you can.
Today Whirlpool offers a 27-in Self-Cleaning with Steam Microwave Wall Oven Combo in Stainless Steel.
With this model you can bake and microwave at the same time. When the meal has been cooked, the SteamClean option spot cleans everyday spills using only heat and 1-1/4 cups of water. No harsh chemicals or cleaners needed. This SteamClean option that can be used for both the oven and the microwave reduces the need for self cleaning cycles and keeps the appliances in a good condition. Baking has never been easier. With this model’s AccuBake® temperature management system you can achieve delicious, consistent results every time. By surrounding food with even temperature, it ensures optimal heat and consistent baking, even on multiple racks. You can even microwave and bake at the same time. When you’ve finished your meal, the SteamClean option spot cleans everyday spills using only heat and 1-1/4 cups of water—no harsh chemicals or cleaners neededBaking has never been easier. With this model’s AccuBake® temperature management system you can achieve delicious, consistent results every time. By surrounding food with even temperature, it ensures optimal heat and consistent baking, even on multiple racks. You can even microwave and bake at the same time. When you’ve finished your meal, the SteamClean option spot cleans everyday spills using only heat and 1-1/4 cups of water—no harsh chemicals or cleaners needed.Baking has never been easier. With this model’s AccuBake® temperature management system you can achieve delicious, consistent results every time. By surrounding food with even temperature, it ensures optimal heat and consistent baking, even on multiple racks. You can even microwave and bake at the same time. When you’ve finished your meal, the SteamClean option spot cleans everyday spills using only heat and 1-1/4 cups of water—no harsh chemicals or cleaners needed.Baking has never been easier. With this model’s AccuBake® temperature management system you can achieve delicious, consistent results every time. By surrounding food with even temperature, it ensures optimal heat and consistent baking, even on multiple racks. You can even microwave and bake at the same time. When you’ve finished your meal, the SteamClean option spot cleans everyday spills using only heat and 1-1/4 cups of water—no harsh chemicals or cleaners needed.
Kitchens of the future is predicted to be more “intelligent” and innovative using advanced technology to help aid us with daily activities and chores. One of the most task oriented and time-consuming tasks that takes place in a kitchen other than cooking is cleaning it.
The design concept for our future kitchen will to create a space that is “self-cleaning,” incorporating technology and new product design that makes the cleaning process easier, faster, and almost non-existent.
The future “Self-Cleaning” kitchen will not only make our lives easier, but it will lesson product waste and create a more eco-friendly environment.
SELF-CLEANING HIGH-TECH FRIDGE
This refrigerator will have a mind of its own. It will use special sensors and tell you what is about to expire by assessing the level of freshness and quantity.
It will “clean itself” using hot, chemically free steam on surfaces and shelving.
It will use “nano-articulated technology” by using millions of independently controlled micro-tiles on surfaces that sends food that has a shorter shelf-life towards the front.
The Electrolux Infinity I-Kitchen fridge
The self cleaning oven will be heated up to 900 F where oil, dirt, and other grime particles will be reduced to a powdery substance that can be easily cleaned at the end of the cycle. There will be a locked door that will unlock once this process is finished to avoid accidentally opening and burning yourself.
SELF CLEANING PLATES
A new type of coating will be applied to plates that reduces the left over food stains from sticking to the plates. A Swedish design firm developed a type of plate that is made by pressing a cellulose pulp in a heated mold and then applying a “superhydrophobic” coat that makes it extremely difficult to get wet.
This new kitchen will also use a more advanced dishwasher that will be incorporated into the sink for small loads. It will have special sensors built in to detect chemicals and bacteria when rinsing fresh produce.
Another feature will be to combine a built in dishwasher inside cabinetry where dishes are stored. It will be sprayed and cleaned using a special solution that is sprayed under high pressures onto dirty dishes, rinsed and then dried. It will take away that extra step of loading and unloading a dishwasher.
SELF-CLEANING / SUPERHYDROPHOBIC SURFACES
The new kitchen countertop will be programmed to detect when there is bacteria or salmonella present causing the surface to change color, giving out a signal that it is not clean or safe.
The superhydrophobic counter will be extremely repellent to water and other materials, using a nanostructured surface relief. This will give homeowners a self-cleaning, “Lotus Effect” counter where particles will “slide” right off. The counters will be designed where it has a slight, 10 degree angle or “sliding angle” taking advantage of gravitational and electrical forces. There will be a built in compartment at the end of the countertops that will secrete a micro-fluidic substance that moves dirt and particles off the surface.
Although there is already an automatic floor cleaner, a theoretical, advanced version by Electrolux Mab will, “unleash a swarm of 908 airborne “mini-robots” that scout your home from above and then drop down to spot clean dirty surfaces.”
Another concept for a self cleaning floor would be to have a built in suction along the perimeters of the flooring in the kitchen where it “vacuums” and sucks up dirt and crumbs left behind.
- Baldwin, Charles, et al. “Advanced Coatings for the Home of Tomorrow,” Appliance Magazine, December 2006. (June 1, 2012) http://www.appliancemagazine.com/editorial.php?article=1632&zone=1&first=1
- Consumer Reports “Kenmore Elite 9991 with induction cooktop: First Look.” December 2008. (June 5, 2012) http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/appliances/kitchen-appliances/ranges/first-look-kenmore-elite-9991-with-induction-cooktop/overview/first-look-kenmore-elite-9991-with-induction-cooktop.htm
- Di Justo, Patrick. “What’s Inside: Foamalicious, Vaporlicious Easy-Off Oven Cleaner,” Wired Magazine, May 19, 2008. (June 1, 2012) http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/magazine/16-06/st_easyoff
- Field, Anne. “Continuous-Clean Oven Cleaning,” Michigan State University Extension, June 24, 2003. (June 1, 2012) http://www.msue.msu.edu/objects/content_revision/download.cfm/revision_id.493834/workspace_id.-4/01500239.html/
- GE Appliances. “kitchens of tomorrow, today.” (June 1, 2012) http://www.geappliances.com/build-with-ge/downloads/kitchens_of_tomorrow_today.pdf