When Was the Washing Machine Invented? History of the Washer!
Day after day, we use appliances like stoves and refrigerators without thinking about how or when they came about. These convenient contraptions save us time and make life a bit easier. One invention that changed the path for women was the washing machine.
With the washing machine, days of slapping clothing on rocks or scrubbing them with a wooden board are gone. The washing machine is not as old as we think, however. It has only been about 250 years since the first washer was invented.
When Was the Washing Machine Invented?
The washing machine as we know it went through several developments and models before we had this convenience in our home.
6 Notable Developments in the History of the Washing Machine
1. John Tyzacke and the First Washing Machine
We owe the invention of the washing machine to a man named John Tyzacke, though there are some that say he was not the first inventor. The rumors suggest that the credit goes to an Italian man named Jacopo Strada, although there is no evidence to support this rumor.
History shows documentation of Patent 271, received by an inventor named John Tyzacke in 1691. Tyzacke’s machine was the only one to be officially recognized as the first real washing machine.
2. Jacob Schaffer and the Tub and Crank Washing Machine
In 1767, along came a man named Jacob Schaffer. He was a German scholar who was an inventor, among other things. Schaffer is recorded in history books for designing a washing machine in 1767. In 1766, his version of the washing machine (a tub with a crank) became more popular than the machine invented by John Tyzacke.
Schaffer continued to make about 60 washers himself, then Germany continued to make them for about the next century.
3. Henry Sidgier and the First Rotating Drum Washer
The first rotating drum machine was registered by Henry Sidgier in 1782 with Patent 1331. The washing machine was made with a wooden barrel and rods. The machine was hand-cranked to turn the drum and allow the water to run through rods to clean the laundry.
4. Nathaniel Briggs and the First US Patent
Nathaniel Briggs of New Hampshire received the first US Patent in 1797 for his washing machine. The records and the description of his invention were destroyed in a fire, however. Seven years later, Jno Shugert of Pennsylvania received US Patent 3096.
There were several inventors and patents for commercial washers until 1874, when William Blackstone created the first home washing machine for his wife’s birthday because he wanted to help lighten her load.
5. Alva Fisher and the First Electric Washing Machine
The first electric washing machine is only 120 years old. It was invented by Alva Fisher, a native of Chicago. He received US patent 966,677 in 1908 and the machine was named “Thor.” The machine had an electric motor, and a drum and was put on the market by Hurley Machine Company. The machine has many things in common with the washing machines we have today.
As the laundry business was changing, the Maytag Corporation introduced a wooden washing machine. The Whirlpool Corporation was producing electric washing machines as well. As washing machines were evolving, companies were tweaking and improving the machines.
6. Bendix Home Appliances and the First Automatic Washing Machine
In 1937, Bendix Home Appliances had the first automatic washing machine patented and put on the market. Unlike the washers of today, the machine lacked drum suspension, so it had to be attached to the floor. The automatic machines used slip-on connectors to get water into the washer.
Eventually, the hot- and cold-water supply had permanent connections to supply the water to the machine. Today, water temperature is controlled by internal heaters in the washing machine.
How Washing Machines Changed Women’s Roles
The invention of the washing machines is said to be one of the greatest inventions of all time because it changed women’s lives. As the primary homemakers, women were tasked with running the household, including cleaning, cooking, caregiving, and of course, laundry.
With the new washing machines, they did not have to spend so much time doing laundry and had more free time to pursue other interests and join the workforce. Before the invention of washing machines, doing laundry was physically demanding and it took up a large amount of women’s time, leaving less time for other chores or pursuits.
Washing Machines Improvements Over the Years
Washing machines were an innovation, but manufacturers had some challenges in perfecting the product for safety and efficiency.
By 1950, the washing machine evolved to modern home appliances that no longer had wringers that would injure hands and fingers. Then, they were equipped with spin-free features. By 1957, washing machines had buttons to control washing temperature, rinsing temperature, agitation speed, and spin speed.
The washing machines of today have various settings to save water and energy and treat your clothes with kindness.
Though washing machines have come a long way, including features like temperature control, soil-sensing technology, removable agitators, and more, they’re essentially the same technology they were centuries ago. Combined with the electric or gas dryer, the washing machine revolutionized homemaking and allowed everyone from stay-at-home moms to working adults to college students to young children to safely and efficiently complete the most-dreaded of household chores—the laundry.
Featured Image Credit: PlanetCare, Unsplash