Chances are that when you were a kid, the absence of a dishwasher meant washing dishes by hand. While your modern dishwasher might come with all the bells and whistles you need, the machine that keeps your dishes sparkling clean actually has a long history. In fact, the invention of the dishwasher occurred some 160 years ago. Despite its sleek lines and impressive functionality, early dishwashers were anything but streamlined. Find out how your greatest kitchen timesaver went from a strange idea to a must-have in every home.
The Invention of the Dishwasher
The first patent granted for a device that washed dishes was back in 1850, invented by a man named Joel Houghton. He created a small, crank-operated machine that was built from wood. When cranked, water would make its way through the wood plumbing and spray over the dishes. This idea didn't take hold until a wealthy woman named Josephine Cochrane fine-tuned Houghton s invention in 1887 and entered it in the World's Fair. While she didn't wash dishes herself, Cochrane claimed that her servants often chipped dishes and used the dishwasher as a way to simplify the dishwashing process.
While the dishwasher as a concept may have come to life 160 years ago, those early dishwashers were nowhere near as efficient and effective as the machines we use today. In fact, the first dishwasher that even remotely resembles modern models was created by an English inventor in 1924, who implemented the rack system and rotating sprayer common in dishwashers today. Still, while the design was good, a lack of indoor plumbing meant that only super wealthy homeowners owned dishwashers.
By the 1940s, a drying feature had been added to the list of features for dishwashers. While dishwashers continued to be used by wealthy homeowners, indoor plumbing and the World War II disrupted the trajectory of moving dishwashers into every household. In fact, they remained a luxury item until well into the 1950s post-war boom. Only then did American families begin using dishwashers on a regular basis. By the 1970s, they were transitioning from a fringe item to a necessary appliance.
By 2012, 75 percent of American households would own a dishwasher. Thanks to new innovation and features, those dishwashers are more helpful than ever. When you compare the best dishwashers, you'll find a number of add-ons that make washing dishes easier, including pre-soak cycles, better rotating sprayers, and trays and racks that are removable and can be moved around for different shapes and sizes of dishes. While the modern dishwasher was born out a simple invention patented back in the 1800s, the newest models boast features that make the appliance truly unique.
Whether you're looking to replace an old dishwasher or you're building a new home, it's easy to get distracted by all of the latest features and design elements of the various brands and models of dishwashers available. A thought to the humble beginnings of one of the most time-saving appliances available can help you truly appreciate all of the features and technology available in modern-day kitchens across the United States.
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