History of the dishwasher

You may hardly be able to imagine life without it now, but of course the dishwasher was invented once. If you’d like to know how this wonderful appliance was invented, you can find everything on this page

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When was the electric dishwasher invented

1850

As early as 1850, the first patent was filed for a machine that could get dirty dishes, such as plates, glasses and cutlery, clean. This first dishwasher was not yet electric, but was powered by hand.

1886

Thirty years later, in 1886 at the World’s Columbian Exposition a machine was unveiled that already looked a lot like today’s dishwasher. The drive was still manual and not electric.

1924

It was not until 1924 that the current dishwasher was first introduced to the market. Western European households could use a small device with a door at the front and two racks for dirty dishes. These were then rinsed clean by rotating nozzles. This model was already very similar to the dishwasher as we know it today, but the dishes still had to be dried manually.

1940

In 1940, just before the Second World War, the first dishwasher with electrically driven dryers was developed. This electric dishwasher was still quite expensive and not available to the general public. It took at least another 30 to 40 years before even an average household had such an appliance at home. The dishwasher had its major breakthrough 120 years after its first appearance.

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Who is the inventor of the dishwasher

Joel Houghton

As with most other household appliances, it is difficult to pinpoint just one inventor. It was, in fact, Joel Houghton who, in 1850, had finished washing her dirty dishes by hand. She wanted to develop a machine where this was faster. Her dishwasher invention was used primarily in the hospitality industry to reduce the cost of dishwashers. Simply put, the dirty dishes were collected in a large wooden barrel of water, where you could set the water in motion with a lever. As the water splashed against the dishes, the worst of the dirt was rinsed off. The dishes did not get completely clean, so this invention of Joel Houghton was soon forgotten.

Josephine Cochrane

Next, Josephine Cochrane also invented a manually powered dishwasher. This American lady found it very annoying that after every party she had so many dishes to wash and the maid broke many of her precious porcelain dishes while washing them. So she decided to start an invention of her own.

You got the dishes clean with the wooden machine because it was in different compartments. The water could reach everything better and after washing you could let the water run out of the dishwasher and let the dishes dry. So drying by hand was also no longer necessary.

Yet even this model, which was given the name Josephine Cochrane dishwasher, never had a real breakthrough in households. Her invention was also mainly used in the catering industry.

William Howard Livens

It was not until the 1970s that the electric dishwasher gradually began to make its appearance in average households. A smaller model dishwasher designed by William Howard Livens was accessible and affordable for an average household though.