Dishwashers, For Hands That Don’t Do Dishes
In most cases the early dishwasher was a domestic servant or the lady of the house.
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 a 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 operated 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 many 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 a 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 housewives 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 1922 but 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 and Europe