Washing machine: from a bucket to a powerful device

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Updated on: Educator Review By: Michelle Connolly

It is still being determined who invented the washing machine. The inventors of this household appliance have been attributed to many different people. According to available data, washing machines may have been used as early as the sixteenth century. But these machines are different from the ones we use now. The design and development have been the work of many people. Washing machines have advanced significantly since the days of ancient washhouses, which used abrasive sand to scrub dirt from modern gadgets. The earliest patent categorized as belonging to washing machines was issued in England in 1691.

Timeline of the washing machine


The scrubboard was the “first” washing machine. People used a tub (bucket), and a ridged board made entirely of wood to wash and scrub garments. The first washing machine with a cage was created and patented in 1782 by Henry Sidgier. It featured a handle for rotating and wooden rods that caught the clothing. It was the first design for a revolving drum.


The National Washboard Company of Chicago introduced the first metal washboard. People could use less soap because of the zinc washboard’s ridged surface. On earlier versions, the top said “Soap Saver.”


The first washing machine with a revolving drum was created by James King and patented. Water partially filled the drum. Hamilton Smith patented the first rotating washing machine, which had a drum reversing the movement, in 1858. By 1861, washing machines started to include clothes driers.


William Blackstone created the first machine for residential use in 1874. He made it as a birthday present for his wife. It was the first tool to wash and remove dirt.


Alva J. Fisher created the first washing machine with electric power. The “Thor” was a drum-style machine with a galvanized tub. In 1910, the gadget received a patent.


The Benedix Corporation introduced the initial automatic washer for homes. It was a front-loading washer with a revolving drum and glass porthole door. It could autofill, wash, rinse, and spin dry and had a mechanical timer that was electrically driven. This innovative technology was there, but it lacked an integrated water heater.


Buttons were first added to washers in 1957. They had controls for the temperature of the rinse and wash cycles and the spin and agitation speeds. By 1990, the first microcontrollers had been developed, which reduced the cost of washing machines and improved timing.


The earliest modern washing machines appeared. Whirlpool Corporation created the vertical axis high-efficiency washer. This was the original top-load washing machine, as they are currently known.

How did people use to wash their clothes?

At the Riverside

Women were doing their laundry outdoors or down by a lake or river. These wash sessions were a social gathering, predated laundrettes and laundry facilities. But the hours were lengthy, the labour was physically challenging, and it often took several days. People wore more clothes and needed to wash or change their clothes more frequently. Twice a year only!

Rather than using urine, as the Romans had done, salt was employed to clean the clothing. In addition, there were tools at hand. The washboard was a helpful tool that might have come from Scandinavia. Another innovation was the mangle, which was cruel to buttons, fingers, or hair.

In the cities

With the expansion of larger cities, communal or dedicated buildings for washing clothes by the river were built. The washerwoman, who accepted vast volumes of laundry from homes, hotels, etc., represented a new service sector.

Significant changes were about to happen. Following the Second World War, washing machines, like many other kitchen appliances, became more generally accessible. When a new apartment building was constructed in the decades that followed, it became increasingly typical for such laundry to be included in the design. By purchasing Bohus Mekaniska Verkstad in 1944, Electrolux entered the market for commercial washing machines. As a result, 8% of Swedish households had access to communal laundry in 1950.

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The future of the washing machine

Future washing machines are more attractive than ever. Many innovators are utilizing brilliant concepts to transform these devices into contemporary marvels that will make doing laundry an exciting experience (or less of a drag, indeed).

Some ideas, like the iBasket, are already accessible to the general public. The effort of carrying dirty clothing from the bin to the washer is no longer necessary, thanks to this washing machine. When the device is complete, it begins washing and drying. It is masked as a laundry basket.

The future of the washing machine will be significantly affected by both practicality and style. Future washer concepts include one with a drum that spins by magnets and is maintained on a statue-like stand so it won’t be an annoyance in the house. However, because it is so cutting-edge, guests might mistake it for furniture.

Along with washers that resemble works of art, the wall-mounted machine is another design that is gaining popularity. These washers have a futuristic appearance and are made to fit efficiently in smaller apartments or houses that desire a spaceship-like ambience.

Ultimately, the future of the washing machine is bright. These formerly boring machines are evolving into stunning objects that can process laundry cleaner than ever. Perhaps most importantly, they lean toward eco-friendly designs that save water and electricity. Cleaning innovations include laundry detergent sheets and driving internal innovations and design considerations.

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