Domestic Appliance Disaster

Alice doesn't know how to do the house chores; maybe she's The Lad-ette and as you know, only Feminine Women Can Cook. Bob can't either, he may not be used to it because Men Can't Keep House.

Or it's because they're kids or rich persons and have to experience it for the first time. Or they're clumsy, or very unlucky, and everything they do ends up in a disaster, usually. A third possibility is they were simply distracted (for instance by a phone call).

Whatever the reason, the kitchen is now a mess: dinner is burned to ashes, the oven caught fire (often because of Oven Logic), and cutlery put in the microwave made the latter explode.

It's not better in the laundry room: too much powder was put in the washing machine, resulting in a room looking like a pool of bubbles. Clothes have shrunk, and if not, their colors have changed (white laundry is now tinted with other clothes colors). And let's not talk about the iron, left for too long on a cloth, tearing a giant hole in it.

Domestic disasters can be used as an Establishing Character Moment, to show the chronic bad luck, distraction, or clumsiness of a character.

Doomed New Clothes tend to particularly attract the problems tied to the laundry disasters; notably prom or wedding dresses. Add extra points when the dress is damaged only a few moments before it shall be put on, and with no replacement possible.

More rarely, the trope can be applied voluntary, with revenge in mind. For instance an Alpha Bitch or an aloof big sister will get rid of her rival by ruining her (often expensive) dress.

Pretty much an Undead Horse Trope as it's not happening very commonly nowadays, but these were once frequent accidents until technology marched on. However, to preserve the comedic effect, the trope is still in use, including in works set in the modern day.

Often related to Men Can't Keep House, Too Incompetent to Operate a Blanket, Doomed New Clothes, Oven Logic, and tends to happen during A Day in Her Apron. See also Electrified Bathtub for a lethal version.


Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • One televised commercial for Robitussin cough syrup has a mother abed with a cough-and-cold, trying to recuperate. Her daughter approaches her at one point, displaying an iron's footplate burn mark on her dress, declaring, "Mom, Dad's ironing!" She takes a spoonful of Robitussin, and recovers enough to restore order.
  • One Allstate Insurance commercial shows a married couple leaving home for vacation in a station wagon crammed with baggage. Suddenly, the wife gasps, "I left the iron on!" Her husband disputes that, but the wife is insistent. The husband reaches under his seat to produce a steam iron, and smiles in triumph. The wife, however, states, "That's my old iron." After a double take, the couple return home in time to see the fire department conduct a post-suppression inspection.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Ash has this problem in an episode of Pokémon Sun and Moon, when he tries to wash a shirt. He overfills the machine by adding all of Professor Kukui's lab coats, then dumps an entire box of detergent in. Naturally, this results in a laundry full of foam and bubbles.
  • Akane Tendō of Ranma ˝ isn't just a Lethal Chef, she's a walking disaster in a kitchen, to her older sister Kasumi's dismay. The most stand-out example is the manga story (and corresponding OVA) introducing Nodoka Saotome. Akane is once again trying to make diner to impress Ranma's mother, but she forgot to cook the eggs. So, pressed for time, she puts them in the microwave oven. The worst part is that even Ranma, who's been pretty much reared on the road, knows you should never do that, and try to warn Akane, who is clueless. Right on cue, the eggs explode from the microwaves, sending the oven door flying across the kitchen, hitting a hot water pipe — which result in everybody present getting drenched and the rest of the food being ruined.

    Fan Works 
  • A Certain Unknown Level 0: The advanced Academy City laundry machine has errors despite repeated attempts to fix it, and causes things like all of the water spewing out.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Pleasantville: The male bowling club has a member, named Roy, who is asked, as a proof of the new anarchy, to show the back of his shirt hidden under his jacket. It has an iron-shaped burn on it. How did it happen? Apparently, Roy's wife was distracted because she was "thinking".
  • Defied in Home Alone. Granted, Kevin is only nine and does not even know how to pack his bags at the very beginning. However he adapts very quickly and avoids all disasters while alone.
  • Gremlins 2: The New Batch: Voluntary example with destructive intentions when a gremlin puts metallic elements in a microwave. It explodes and that's exactly what he had in mind.
  • The Santa Clause: Scott Calvin burns the Christmas turkey to ashes and has to take his son to a diner. Turn out he's not the only dad to have to do that.
  • In Honey, I Blew Up the Kid, Wayne lets the dinner in the oven catch fire during his wife's day out. Cue Wayne and his sons having a meal of peanut butter sandwiches.
  • In Just My Luck, poor Ashley has just caught extreme bad luck. As a result, Jake pities her and lets her go to his flat, so she can wash her wet clothes. She inevitably turns his laundry room into a pool of bubbles (being distracted by a shirtless Jake while putting powder and being unable to find the stop button after).
  • The Color Purple: Albert has no idea how to do any household chores, but insists on preparing breakfast for his old flame Shug Avery. Thinking the (fire fueled) oven does not work fast enough, he pours too much petrol in it and the inevitable bonfire ensues.
  • In La Valise En Carton ("The Cardboard Suitcase"), the main protagonist, Linda, violently argues with her mother while she is busy with the ironing. She leaves the iron on top of a pile of clothes, and they suddenly stop when they notice that the clothes are smoking.
  • In American Hustle, Irving told his wife, Rosalyn, not to put metal (aluminum foil) in the microwave. Rosalyn didn't took his advice and did it anyway which sets the microwave on fire. Granted, the microwave is a brand new thing back in The '70s and neither Irving and Rosalyn know how it really works.

    Literature 
  • Freaky Friday: 13 years old Annabel, stuck in her mother's body, has to do the laundry and has no idea on how to proceed. As a result the over packed machine releases a wave of bubbles.
  • In the Clarice Bean book "Utterly Me", Clarice Bean asks her grandfather to launder her jersey, but it shrinks down to "the size of a midge".

    Live-Action TV 
  • A Princess For Christmas
    • The "wave of bubbles" occurs in the first scenes. Six years old Maddie just wanted to wash the shirt she just stained, without disturbing her nanny. Unfortunately she's too young to have been taught how to deal with the washing machine.
    • Later on, a rare voluntary example of "giant iron hole" occurs with benevolent intentions. A maid of Castelbury castles burn the evening dress of the heroine to the fiber with her iron...Actually a pretext to buy her another, more spectacular dress for the Christmas ball.
  • In Lois & Clark a b-plot once involves Ma and Pa Kent swapping roles. Jonathan tries to do the house chores, but among other disasters such as turning his son's white shirts pink after washing them with his Superman cape, he also tears a hole in the cape with a hot iron. note 
  • Red Dwarf: Dave Lister once tries to press his least slovenly clothes into a fit state to impress — or so he thinks — the female crew the Dwarfers are about to rescue. Discovering he has burnt an iron-shaped hole in his garment, Lister shrugs, puts it on anyway, and spray-paints the skin underneath with an almost-matching color of spray-paint, so as to conceal the hole.
  • The Goldbergs: In "Smother's Day", Barry and Erica try to make Beverly breakfast in bed after forgetting Mother's Day. Unfortunately, all they manage to do is set the kitchen on fire. Bev is touched nonetheless that they at least made an effort.
  • Explored extensively on MythBusters, whenever they looked into a myth of an appliance gone berserk because of mishandling or another cause, such as how possible (and lethal) the Electrified Bathtub could be (result: more modern appliances would probably shut down the moment they hit the water and not create a shock, but older appliances were still pretty dangerous because they lacked such failsafes) and whether or not an overloaded washing machine that had its user standing on it (trying to compact the overflowing clothes) when it went off could injure said user (the result: washing machines do not have the kind of horsepower necessary to perform said spinning when overloaded to such a level, let alone cause injuries).
  • In the episode "Burnin' Down the House" from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will tries to make the dinner but accidentally burns the entire kitchen with his failed flambé attempt.
  • In The Sooty Show, when Sooty and Sweep both get given jumpers that are too big for them, they try to shrink them in the wash but use too much soap powder and the laundry room fills with bubbles. Later, they didn't shrink, so they put them in the dryer but they shrink to itty-bitty size.
  • On The Brady Bunch: episode "Law and Disorder", Bobby makes a clandestine effort to launder his good suit (after he got it covered in soot from entering a condemned house). But he poured about half a box of detergent into the washing machine, and almost drowned himself when the laundry room filled with suds. To add insult to injury, the ordeal all but ruined his dry-clean-only suit pants, as they were now, in his sister's words, "tighter than his skin".
  • On Good Eats, Alton explains in the first Man Food episode why, in earlier episodes, he eschewed the use of a deep-fryer in favor of a Dutch oven fitted with a candy thermometer. (Besides it being, you know, a unitasker.) Early deep-fryers for home use generally had a metal chassis (which would get hot), and a heating element that heated the metal, not the oil (leading to uneven cooking). They also tended to have smaller cords, which could be disastrous if the fryer tipped over. (And commercial deep-fryers, besides having many of the same problems, also had a tendency to short out circuits in residential homes because they were such energy-gobblers.) He then goes on to explain that many modern home fryers have solved these problems: many are sturdier, easier to clean, have a chassis made (or covered with) ABS plastic that stays cool to the touch, heating elements that can be submerged in the oil (instead of under the metal), and have "breakaway" cords and auto-off features.

    Videos Games 
  • In The Sims series, if a sim is not skilled at using certain appliances, then they can end up breaking them, such as the oven catching on fire if the sim doesn't know how to cook.

    Western Animation 
  • One Pink Panther cartoon has Pink lie upon an ironing board, and iron his tummy fur. The phone rings, and Pink answers it, leaving the hot iron to burn its way completely through his body and the ironing board to tumble onto the floor. Pink hops to his feet and regards the triangular hole in his midsection. Amazingly, it seems neither to hurt nor to debilitate him, being nothing worse than unsightly.
  • In a 1950s Goofy cartoon, "Father's Day Off", Goofy replaces his wife for a day. A dress gets wet and shrinks immediately. Goofy then tries to iron it, but forgets the iron on it (granted, he had to answer a phone call). The iron not only tears a hole in the dress, but also burns the ironing board, then the floor, and finally fell on Goofy's head in the room downstairs.
  • The Simpsons
    • Parodied when Homer has to cook breakfast for Mr. Burns in "Homer the Smithers". After a few failed attempts to cook a shish kebab, he just prepares a bowl of cereal. But as soon as he pours (cold) milk into the bowl, it catches fire.
    • In the "Stark Raving Dad" episode, Bart puts his red cap into the white laundry and all Homer's shirts turn pink. It leads Homer to be judged as a deviant mind at work when he wears one.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: Ladybug once used a microwave as a weapon, when she voluntarily put a metallic box in it in order for the waves to destroy a virtual padlock. It works, but not before the oven explodes.
  • The Tom and Jerry cartoon "Push Button Kitty" sees Mammy Two-Shoes purchase Mechano, the Cat of Tomorrow to replace the ineffective Tom. Against a single mouse, Mechano jettisons Jerry with maximum efficiency and zero damage. However, when presented with a dozen wind-up mice, Mechano goes haywire, turning a row of commemorative plates into a shooting gallery, and circular sawing a mahogany coffee table in two, among other destructive efforts. Mammy is screaming for Tom to return by the cartoon's end.
  • Many episodes of the first series of Mézga család are about Geza and Aladar trying to avoid their mundane chores with household appliances from the future that are bound to go wrong.
  • Les Drew wrote and animated Every Dogs Guide To Complete Home Safety, which shows Bumbling Dad Bernard use a circular saw on a 30-amp outlet. The tool goes haywire and starts sawing up the whole house. When Bernard's boss arrives and rings the doorbell, the whole structure collapses. Happily, Wally the dog and the couple's toddler escaped unharmed. Viewable here: [1].
  • Rugrats: In the episode "Accidents Happen", Stu puts Dil's onesie in the laundry with something else and it turns pink.

    Real Life 
  • Allegedly.... a coach at an American university wondered why the star quarterback in the American Football team (a man not overburdened with intellect who got there on a sports scholarship to do a dissertation in stacking towels) was seen to have a series of regularly-shaped burns all over his upper body. Fearing that the quarterback was into some sort of sexual perversion and therefore laying himself open to blackmail or worse, the coach took him aside for a man-to-man talk concerning how he got the burns. Apparently he'd got them while ironing his shirt. Nobody had ever told him you take a shirt off to iron it.. he'd been pressing it while on his body, "to save time".
  • In the "System 32 twitch services" video, a young Twitch user was abused by persons pretending to be Twitch help services, who among other things told him to put the battery of his computer in the microwave...and it caught fire.

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