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History of Dishwashers

The history of dishwashers, a common and popular appliance, is full of interesting facts and details. Before the second half of the 1800s, people never even considered making a machine to wash their dishes. The most primitive dishwashers were made in the 1850s and barely resemble the large machines you use today.

The first dishwashers

The first dishwasher was made in 1850 by a man named Joel Houghton. This was a machine that was cranked by hand and splashed water over dishes. He patented his idea and then began improving it. In 1865, Alexander improved on Houghton's invention by introducing a geared belt to pull a pan of dishes through the machine; however, the dishes did not emerge fully clean.

Josephine Cochran's contribution

In 1886, a woman named Josephine Cochran decided to invent a more practical dishwashing machine. She began by measuring her dishes and making wire compartments for them to fit into. The compartments lay on a copper boiler. As she turned a crank, the boiler squirted hot, soapy water onto the dishes. This invention was unveiled at the World's Fair in Chicago in 1893 and won a grand prize. Cochran's company eventually evolved into KitchenAid, a well-known kitchen company.

Newer models

In the 1950s, dishwashers were smaller and more compatible with the plumbing in homes. This is when they really caught on as a home appliance. Drying elements were first added in 1940 and by 1970, most new homes came with a dishwasher.

The dishwasher is a common appliance that is taken for granted. Its long history of invention and improvement tells a tale of days when washing dishes was not quite as simple.