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History of Laundry

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Before the invention of washing machines, one of the hardest chores around the house was doing laundry. For years, people had been dragging their dirty clothes for hours to get it near running water so they could clean it using rocks or washing bats. There were lots of steps to washing the dirty clothes. First, they had to boil a large amount of water. After that, they had to set up the large pots to pour hot and cold water in it. Then, they could start washing their clothes. While doing their laundry, they constantly had to refresh their water with clean water for rinsing. This process took them hours and sometimes could even last for days. Women from all classes struggled with doing this tedious and tiresome task. Over the past few years there have been various innovations that aimed to eliminate the agonizing labor of washing clothes by hand.

The First Innovation: Scrub Board

The First way of washing clothes was discovered when people noticed that rubbing the fabric constantly while rinsing it in water could get the fabric clean. In 1787, scrub board were invented utilizing the knowledge of beating and scrubbing the fabric. Scrubbing boards were usually made of wood and metal, and had basic designs. They usually had vertically oriented, rectangular shapes with bumpy surfaces. This method was used for over a century and was considered as the most sufficient method of doing laundry at the time. The Scrubbing method definitely alleviated the need for beating. The Scrubbing method became even more effective when soap made from animal fat was discovered.

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The Second Invention: Rotary Machine

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In 1787, Hamilton Smith invented the first rotary washing machine that freed people from scrubbing their clothes on the scrub-board and made it so much easier for people to do their laundry. It also cut the amount of time that people spend on doing laundry. Hamilton Smith's rotary clothes washers consisted of a hand turned crank that continually rotated to squeeze the water through the clothing. Simply put, the clothes were placed inside a cylinder that was rotated by hand.

In 1874, a man named William Blackstone built a better version of the first household hand-powered washing machine as a birthday present for his wife. Even though this design was also hand-cranked, it saved time for people of this time period.

The Third Invention: The Thor

Both the scrubbing board and the rotary machine were very helpful for people of that time. However, these inventions were still hand powered and required very time consuming labor. All of that changed in 1908 when Alva Fisher invented the first electric powered washing machine and named it "The Thor". The design used a drum with a tub and an electric motor that replaced the hand crank. Early 20th century was the beginning of a new era for washing machines. It was one of the most popular appliances that almost every American household demanded. It turned years of struggle into a simple task with just the press of a button.

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With the invention of the first electric powered washing machines, washing clothes became a much easier task. Washing clothes was no longer as time consuming or laborious. However, drying and ironing your clothes still took a lot of time without dryers. That is why washing machines and dryers were invented to be used together for an effective laundry experience.

In the early days, laundry was washed by the river side and dried by sun. People used to hang their clothes during the day to dry their clothes with the sunlight. It usually took hours or even days to dry any fabric with the sun's heat. Thus, people saw a need for a dryers. Various kinds of Clothes dryers were also invented alongside washing machines. For instance, in 1800 a person named M. Pochon, from France, created the first hand-cranked clothes dryer. Pochon decided to take a metal drum, shaped almost like barrel, and place holes in it. It was then rotated over a fire until the clothes inside became dry and could be removed. In the Early 20th century, Ross More developed designs for automatic clothes dryers. It became available to the public around 1938. In order to advance More's design, Brooks Steven added a glass window in 1940.

A guy standing in front of first electric powered clothe dryer
Very first hand cranked clothe dryer

Before, all we needed was time and energy to do our laundry, but now all we need is a space to put our laundry machines to do our laundry for us. The process underwent many changes to become as easy as it is today. Whether it be the designs or the features that utilize modern technology, laundry machines have improved tremendously. As I mentioned it earlier, the main purpose of laundry machines has always been to eliminate the agonizing labor of washing and drying clothes by hand. However, current washing machines do more than just that.

Modern Washers

There are various kinds of washers available to consumers today. For example, front load washers feature an opening in which you put your clothes, located at the front of the washing machine. Top load washers allow you to drop your clothes in the top of the washer. Current washers also come in different colors and sizes. In addition to the designs, modern washing machines come with advanced features like multiple wash cycles, temperature settings, and high speed levels.

a picture of current washing machine

Modern Clothes Dryers

a picture of current clothe dryer

Modern dryers have also come a long way since the 1800s. It usually takes around 1 to 2 hours to dry a full bag of laundry. Similar to washing machines, dryers come in two different designs like front load or top load. Most dryers either run on gas or electricity, important options from which to choose. Clothes dryers also comes in different colors and sizes. Most dryers today have up to 28 dry cycles and up to seven different temperature settings. The drum of the material is usually made of either stainless steel or powder coat.

Saving time and energy has long been one of the main goals for society. Today's washers and dryers are relatively similar to our grandparents' models with the exception of high-tech features that are built to make everyday life easier. They are built to last you a long period of time, so make sure that you choose the best washer, dryer, or combo that fits your needs. Start with choosing what color of washer and dryer you want and then determine how big your space is and what kind of features interest you most.

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