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self-cleaning platePhoto: Tomorrow Machine

It just got slightly harder to weasel our way out of home cooking, now that scientists have developed dishware that cleans itself.

Although the self-cleaning plate is still in the prototype stage, it’s far from the stuff of late-night infomercials. That’s right, folks: All you have to do is turn the plate sideways over a sink or garbage can and voila! The gunk slides right off and the dish is ready for reuse. The product could potentially have a huge impact on the way people see their least favorite household chore (and cut down on water consumption, to boot).

In creating the plate, Swedish designers Hanna Billqvist and Anna Glansen were inspired by the lotus leaf and the way dew drops oh-so-gracefully run off of its surface. The dish itself is made out of a substance found in plant walls, and is covered in a super-hydrophobic (water-repellant) coating.

The self-cleaning plate actually isn’t the first example of a hydrophobic product. A year ago, scientists designed a hydrophobic T-shirt that literally can’t be stained, and similar technology now makes it possible for people to drop their smartphones in the toilet without damaging the hardware (or losing all their favorite cat photos).

It’s true that in the past few years, there have been some concerns around the safety of other hydrophobic products (such as Teflon), and the dish’s coating hasn’t yet been approved for human consumption. But the plate’s designers say the chemicals they’re using are totally safe, since they’re made from all natural substances.

Assuming the dish does get a safety seal of approval, it could be what’s needed to get more people eating at home (which might be healthier for them), or better yet, using fewer disposable plates. Although it was created as an example of a product that might be available in 2035, given how popular hydrophobic products are becoming, that glorious day when we don’t need to wash our dishes might come sooner than we think!

Would a self-cleaning plate make you more likely to cook and eat at home? Let us know in the comments below or tweet the author at @ShanaDLebowitz.