Removing Melted Plastic

Overall, it's been a particularly harrowing week in the kitchen--I intended to mention that the other day when I whined about my salty bread, but I was indulging in incoherence at the time, and writing about related matters would have been out of place. I really *was* exhausted that day, and if this is any sort of indication, I think I sleepwalked the next morning, after I woke up. I remember dragging myself out of bed, feeling extremely woozy; I closed my eyes for what felt like just a moment, and the next thing I knew, I was out of my bedroom, past the living room, and standing by the door leading out onto the balcony. Weird, huh?

So what else went wrong for me, culinary-wise? Let’s see. I baked a lemon-olive sourdough quickbread, which usually doesn't give me any trouble but this time came out looking like loaf-shaped regurgitated matter—and, much to my unease, seems to feel and taste the way it looks; though, rest assured, I’m not positive of the latter, having never had first-hand experience with such. Though, thanks to Edward, I have *seen* my fair share of regurgitated matter, as well as the re-eating of said matter, if I don’t move fast enough). Okay, so I think I've established a suitably gross mood to match the foul quickbread I had somehow brought forth into this world, and which I have been dutifully eating with the help of *loooong* toastings, bits of melted cheese, and other disguises. I don’t throw food away ever, unless I suspect an extreme reaction upon ingestion, like my death. I have some sense.

Then the other day, I was trying to tip out some of the thin fluid that inevitably separates from the yogurt (I don't remember this happening with yogurt in America, but then I never ate plain yogurt in America either)--even though a food scientist on TV reassured me once that this liquid is full of some nutritional element that in Japanese becomes a word I could never hope to retain in my memory or translate into even a semblance of English--when the entire mass of yogurt shot out of the carton and hit the floor. Thankfully, I happened to be sitting on the floor at the time (long uninteresting explanation) and the yogurt didn't have very far to fly. Also, plain yogurt in Japan is quite firm, and thus it didn’t spew everywhere so much as glop en masse. Still, surprise and dismay caused a chilling screech to issue forth from somewhere within me, startling Edward and traveling out the window to effectively silence a group of children frolicking below—have I mentioned how nothing hurts me more than wasted food?

But the pinnacle of all my kitchen trials began with an innocent, bonny blue Tupperware top forgotten in the microwave. And it is really this final story that prompted me to write this post, because—yes, that’s right, children—I have a fresh cautionary tale to share, as well as more of those priceless gems of wisdom that come only upon my committing the truest acts of asininity.

It’s funny that a piffling moment of forgetfulness could have the potential to lead to brain damage, possible sterility, and/or a finger-scalding blue gel puddled on the floor of my microwave. Have I mentioned that my microwave is also an oven? It’s one of those neat space-saving inventions that are practically a basic necessity to the average Tokyo resident, who would never have room for a toaster, microwave, *and* oven—absurd! Little factoid: In the cheapest apartment buildings, there isn't even room for a communal bathroom, which is why you will sometimes see Japanese people walking along the road with a towel around their neck and toting a little basket of toiletries as they head to/from the public baths.

Anyhow, as much as I dearly love my oven-microwave, there are certain unavoidable setbacks. For example, after using the oven setting, the microwave quite staunchly refuses to operate until the oven’s interior has cooled down to an acceptable temperature. Well, another example would be if, say, some idiot leaves a Tupperware lid in the microwave and then later decides to pre-heat the oven to a very high temperature to bake what will later turn out to be painfully salty bread, never seeing the plastic lid (somewhat excusable if this idiot were short of stature and the oven was set quite high up, like on top of the fridge) as she walks away and buries herself in work until 20 minutes later, when she opens the oven door and is greeted by a grey cloud and stinky fumes, which she suddenly realizes have begun to permeate the room and whose origin is a Windex-blue puddle that the idiot slowly realizes was once a forgotten Tupperware lid.

But now you are caught, you are intrigued by this example I have supplied. Your mind is abuzz with questions, namely: What would be the best way to remove melted Tupperware from the floor of a microwave?

How to remove melted Tupperware:
  1. Do a frantic Google search.

  2. Following the instructions of some guy on the first website you come across, snatch up a wooden spoon and try to scrape up the mess.

  3. Observe that the mess is a lot more liquid in consistency than it first appeared and that the wooden spoon has done nothing but paint pretty swirls through the blue goo.

  4. Note grimly that you missed the part where the guy breezily tells you to throw away your now-ruined wooden spoon. He doesn’t know how much you hate throwing perfectly good things away; it's not the wastrel's fault.

  5. Realize that as the plastic cools, one of two things might happen. The plastic might turn into a malleable sheet that will easily peel off the oven floor. Or, the plastic will fuse itself to the oven and will have to be re-melted, meaning: more toxic fumes, additional brain damage, and further increased chances of sterility (not that you're absolutely dead-set on having children, but, you know, burning bridges and all that).

  6. Scan kitchen utensils and triumphantly seize meat cleaver.

  7. Wield cleaver like car windshield squeegee thingy, carefully drawing melted plastic toward the edge where you hold a wad of paper towels to sort of scoop everything up—careful, that stuff is hot; not that I burnt my fingers or anything, but this is what I as a sensible person would assume.

  8. When the majority of the plastic is scraped off, finally, use a pot scrubby thingy to buff of any remaining residue.

  9. Proudly examine floor of microwave, which is now looking cleaner than it has in a very long time.
Mother Mary, this post was way too long for such an inane subject.

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Long, perhaps, but lots of fun. I like it when you go all witty on us. :-) I love it that, when faced with this melty plastic crisis, you did what any sensible child of the 21st century would do-- googled it. Did you look under "melted tupperware"? 

from Jess

5/25/2005 09:43:00 PM  

We have a friend who was somewhat deprived when it comes to culinary talent and put a tupperware in the oven on purpose...twice! And who amongst us hasn't slid a tupperware (or lid) onto a still hot stove element?

You're still way ahead of the game in my books. 

from Jaime

5/25/2005 10:24:00 PM  

.. welcome friend..hehehe I thought I was the only one having disasters in the kitchen. I did have my turkey blow up in the oven once. :) 

from keona

5/26/2005 02:22:00 AM  

Love the description Rachel although I can believe that at the time you were not having fun at all. 

from Ana

5/26/2005 03:44:00 AM  

In times of new strangeness, there's nothing better than Google. I think I typed in "remove melted plastic"; either that or "Crap there's melted plastic all over my precious oven!!!Aaaaargh!"

Jaime, your friend... was trying to melt the tupperware on purpose?
Thank you for being so charitable regarding yet another of my tedious bouts of idiocy.

keona, what's going on in your kitchen? Share your pain and humiliation and make me feel less bad about mine. Wow, an entire exploded turkey--how does such a thing happen?

Ana, sigh, you would be right; it was not so enjoyable. I think my husband's about to take away my kitchen privileges, or possibly just ban me from any heat sources.  

from Rachel

5/27/2005 06:33:00 PM  

...Guests are still laughing...
Someone (a relative of a BBQ restaurant who is "in the know" )gave me this "top secret recipe" for superfast crispy turkey. Spray oil on towel dried turkey and roast on highest- 500- 550 F. Smoke alarm went, ran into fogged up kitchen, open oven door. Turkey skin was bubbling up in huge bubbles which exploded and spurted oil all over. grrr.. and i guess i forgot about that leeetle pouch in the neck which also balloooned up and threatened to blow up as well.. needless to say, secret recipe has been trashed.
OK now that I've told you I may have to kill you..muahaha 

from keona

5/28/2005 03:15:00 AM  

Please, no murder. After all, I've shared so many of my own humiliating stories. Let's call it even.

Whoa, hot exploding fat sounds extremely painful and dangerous. I'm just glad to hear you didn't get splattered!

from Rachel

6/01/2005 10:03:00 PM  

Oh you know, I dropped a carton of yogurt on the floor not long ago too (it just flew out of the fridge when I opened it). And I didn't have to do a thing to clean it up! Libby licked every last bit of it off the floor. Thank goodness I know my floor is clean. Next time it happens, try Edward ;o) 

from Lynn

6/14/2005 10:56:00 AM  

A whole carton?! I don't know, isn't that too much of a good thing? 

from Rachel

6/15/2005 03:49:00 AM  

wow. i found this site when i googled how to remove melted tupperware from the bottom of my oven...

still smokin' as i type.

good god.

i cant wait to try that scrubby thing.

fingers crossed and cookie dough waitin',

stuporware in los angeles 

from becky

7/13/2006 05:00:00 PM  

I found this site when I googled something about melted plastic after doing much the same thing (on a slightly larger scale). Only I couldn't scrub it all off, and I had to pay someone who came and took all the removable parts of the oven to a body shop and scrubbed them with a blowtorch or some such thing, and then he came and scrubbed the rest of the oven with some chemical stuff, then he reassembled it and told me I could bake. It looks cleaner than it ever has. I turned it on after he left -- and there was a funny smell and a lot of smoke. I turned it off quickly. I don't know what to do! 

from Ingrid

9/13/2006 08:16:00 AM  

Hi Ingrid! Is it seriously smoking (like thick plumes)? If not, could be that whatever is left over in your oven (plastic, the cleaning solution/chemicals the repair guy used, etc.) needs to burn itself out. But I would definitely recommend that you call the repair guy first and ask him if this is normal. If he says it is, then open all your windows, turn on your oven, and the smoke should eventually go away. Try not to stay too close while this is going on--don't want to make yourself sick.  

Good luck and be careful!

from Rachel

9/13/2006 08:25:00 AM  

Thank you. I did as you suggested and opened all the windows, turned on the oven, and went into another part of the house. (I live in a Mexican house with a central courtyard, so it's very well ventilated.) It took about an hour, but it worked! I am so happy to have my oven back! 

from Ingrid

9/23/2006 05:06:00 AM  

I, too, found you when googling something like "remove melted Tupperware" - but, um, I was doing it for a friend. Not me (ahem). I haven't committed a kitchen-related act of asininity since the last time I tried to make chicken soup and didn't realize, until I unwrapped the bird, that my Chinese chicken still had the feet & head attached. But that's a story I'll have to tell in my own blog.

I just wanted to let you know that yes, that thin fluid separates from the plain yogurt in America, too.

And I was wondering about that combination toaster-microwave-oven gizmo. I live in a tiny New York apartment and could really use one. I wonder whether they are available here. Are they made by a particular brand or are they pretty standard? I'll have to investigate.


from annulla

1/04/2007 10:17:00 PM  

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