Frances Gabe had a vision of putting an end to housework. No more dusting or vacuuming. All a homeowner would have to do would be to push a button and the house would clean itself, as if the entire structure was a giant dishwasher.
Of course, this meant that everything in the house had to be waterproofed. But it also meant that the actual dishwasher and clothes washer became redundant. Just hang dirty clothes in the closet and stack dishes in a cabinet — they'd get washed along with the rest of the house.
Gabe offered two stories for how she came up with the concept of the self-cleaning house. The first was that, as a newly married young woman, she once noticed a jam stain on the wall. Instead of scrubbing it off she decided to get a hose and sprayed it off.
The second story involved divine inspiration. After divorcing her husband she said that she was sitting, feeling despondent, and praying to God to provide her with some purpose to keep her going. Suddenly two angels appeared on her shoulders. And then, she said, "I picked up a pencil and began scribbling. I thought I was just doodling. Then I stopped and looked, and there was the self-cleaning house."
She received a patent (No. 4,428,085
) for the self-cleaning house in 1984. She also transformed her own house in Newberg, Oregon into a prototype. From what I can gather, she never managed to make the entire house self-cleaning, but the kitchen could clean itself.
When she was alive she would offer tours of the house, but she died in 2016, and the new owners of the house haven't maintained its self-cleaning features.
Incidentally, Gabe was an invented name, so it's not what appears on her patent. Her full name, when married, was Frances Grace Arnholtz Bateson. She constructed 'Gabe' out of her initials.
More info: mit.edu