Who Invented the Dishwasher?

Author: Staff Writer
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The first commercially available power-moded dishwasher was invented by Josephine Cochrane in 1886.

Dishwashers are one of the most common home appliances; however, many people do not know how these amazing machines transformed. The history of the dishwasher is actually quite lengthy. Starting out as a simple box that splashed water and growing to the technologically advanced machines we now own, the dishwasher has passed through many developmental stages over the years.

Manual Dishwashers

The first dishwasher was invented in 1850 by Joel Houghton.  The machine was wooden and had a hand-turned wheel. The wheel simply splashed water over the dishes in the machine. It was not really a working machine, but it was the first dishwasher to have a patent. After the introduction of this dishwasher, advances began coming quickly. L.A. Alexander patented a device in 1865. This machine also used a hand-crank, which was used to spin a rack of dishes through splashing water. Again, this did not do much to clean the dishes, but it was advancement. However, these machines were manually operated and not practical. [1]

The Automatic Dishwasher

Only a few years later, in 1886, Josephine Cochrane developed a machine herself. Her dishwasher had specially designed racks to hold plates, saucers and cups. A motor was used to turn the wheel and a boiler was attached to the machine. This allowed hot water to spray over the dishes, which was far more effective that earlier models. Her design gained a lot of recognition and she began her own company, which is now known as KitchenAid. This was the birth of the automatic dishwasher. [2]

The 1920s and Beyond

In the early 1920s, dishwashers began to include permanent plumbing. In 1924, William Howard Livens received a patent for modifications that were very similar to the machines used today. It had a front door used for loading, a rotating sprayer and wire racks. In 1940, electric elements used for drying the dishes were implemented into the design. [3]

Dishwashers Today

From the 1940s on, the dishwasher maintained its basic construction, with small additions being added. By the 1970s, it was one of the most common home appliances. The machine became cheaper to buy, allowing more homes to install one. It was a blessing to many women who used to be burdened with the chore of washing dishes by hand. Today, two-thirds of homes have a dishwasher. [4] 


Works Cited

[1] Gref, Lynn G; The Rise and Fall of American Technology
New York: Algora Pub., 2010. 75-76.

[2] KitchenAid
KitchenAid Company History

[3] ESpacenet Patent Search
Improvements in apparatus for washing household crockery and the like

[4] US Department of Housing and Urban Development

Full Annotated Bibliography

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"Who Invented the Dishwasher?." Sophisticated Edge. N.p., n.d. Web. . <http://www.sophisticatededge.com/who-invented-the-dishwasher.html>.  

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