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Dishwashers, For Hands That Don't Do Dishes

Updated on February 1, 2009
In most cases the early dishwasher was a domestic servant or your Mom or Sister. In my house before the dishwasher we all took turns.
In most cases the early dishwasher was a domestic servant or your Mom or Sister. In my house before the dishwasher we all took turns.
The first dishwasher was a wooden dishwasher invented by Jeff Houghton in 1850. It was hand turned and really did no work.
The first dishwasher was a wooden dishwasher invented by Jeff Houghton in 1850. It was hand turned and really did no work.

History Of The Dishwasher

Dish-washing only became an issue with the introduction of porcelain tableware in the 18th century, and remained a minor element of the housework for most people. Breakages were more of a problem than cleaning, especially for rich people who used a lot of dinnerware and relied on servants to clean it.

The first patent for a mechanical dishwasher dates back to 1850, and it was granted to Joel Houghton for a wooden machine that splashed water on dishes and was ran with a hand turned crank as you can see in the above photo of the patent drawing for it. Quite a long way from today's pot scrubbing dishwasher.

Frenchman Eugene Daquin invented another version in 1885. Daquins device involved a set of revolving hands that grabbed the dishes and plunged them into soapy water. It evidently looked so ferocious that in a review in the Scientific American it was written that the machine posed no danger to man or dishes.

Neither of these machines was practical and it was left to Joshephine Cochrane, an Illinois Society hostess who gave tons of dinner parties where dishes needed washing often to find a solution to the problem of needing a dishwasher that worked and really got the dishes clean. Not wanting her dishes broke she shopped around for a dishwasher with a gentle touch. Her search for a dishwasher that worked and was practical was unsuccessful so finally she said in frustration. " If no one is going to invent a dishwasher that really works I'm going to invent a dishwashing machine myself.

She was good as her word and she built her first dishwashing machine in a garden shed. She twisted wire into racks to hold dishes and arranged the dishes on a rack she placed in a large copper boiler. A motor turned the rack around and around while hot soapy water was squirted up and over the dishes. The Cochrane dishwasher was a huge success and it wasn't long before they started showing up in homes everywhere.

She patented her dishwasher in 1896 and sold copies of it to friends, family , hotels, restaurants and others. It even won an award at the 1893 Chicago World Fair.

But although Kitchen-Aid the company that grew from Cochrane's Dishwasher business would eventually become a household name and a huge success initial sales were very disappointing.

Dishwasher historians attributed the early failure of the dishwasher to a combination of logistical and culture stumbling blocks. The early dishwashers required huge amounts of hot water at a time when it still took hours to heat enough water to fill a bathtub. In addition research showed that those early housewife's didn't mind washing dishes. It was the laundry that took up many hours of their time weekly.

The first electrically powered dishwasher did not come on the scene until 1922but it was not until after World War II that the dishwasher finally caught on and finally ended up in many homes around the United States.

The modern dishwasher is a long way from that old hand cranked dishwasher. Can you even imagine. Its really amazing how far we have come with all our modern devices that do all our work for us. 

Did You Know The History Of The Dishwasher. Do You Have A Comment You Would Like To Make Now. Why Not Post Your Comment Below Now.

Did You Know The History Of The Dishwasher. Do You Have A Comment You Would Like To Make Now.

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    • profile image

      big purple dino 

      2 years ago

      what about Josephine Cochrane and i cant find your sources

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Crazy how technology and things of that nature created so many great things!

    • profile image

      Dish Washer 

      8 years ago

      I can't live without my dishwasher. With 2 kids, we tend to run our dishwasher quite a bit!

    • crazyhorsesghost profile imageAUTHOR

      Thomas Byers 

      9 years ago from East Coast , United States

      Thanks for the comments. Yes dishwashers have come a long way from the old days to today's modern automatic dishwasher.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great Hub! god info

      Dishwashers are available in many types. Built in dishwashers are most common.

    • RVilleneuve profile image


      9 years ago from Michigan

      nice hub. i need a new dishwasher, great pictures as well!


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