Laundry Innovations – Through the Years

Laundry Innovations – Through the Years

Washing clothes has always seemed to be a dreaded task…

…but we’re taking a look at how far innovation has come and how much the process has changed over the years.

From the past…

The first washing “machine” wasn’t really a machine, but a hand-powered washboard that was patented in 1797, by American Inventor, James King. The washboard was used by rubbing clothing up and down the board gradient using soap to clean clothing. James later discovered and patented the first hand powered washing machine with a drum in 1851.

In 1858, Inventor Hamilton Smith patented the first rotary washing machine. The early rotary washing machine worked by a hand-cranking rotation of a perforated cylinder inside of a wooden barrel. The rotation of the cylinder forced water through the clothing in a way to launder items.

In 1874, a man by the name of William Blackstone wanted to create a gift for his wife. Little did he know that his creation would be the first in-home washing machine. His innovation was still not electric but it did remove dirt from clothing.

The rotary washing machine soon evolved over the years into an electric machine. The first electric washing machine was filed by Alva J. Fisher in 1908. Alva and the Hurley Electric Company patented the first electric washing machine in 1910.

The first commercial electric washing machine was named Thor, (no not Chris Hemsworth). Thor was the first drum style washing machine with a galvanized tub. Washing machines started to become more and more popular in homes after World War II.

The Saturday Evening Post

The invention of the washing machine made big changes in households and soon brands like Maytag decided to jump on board. In 1893, F.L. Maytag started their manufacturing of farm tools and noticed a decline in sales in the winter. In 1907, they decided they needed to step up their business and they began manufacturing a wooden tub washing machine. 

Another notable company that began manufacturing electric washing machines was the Whirlpool Company, in 1911.

Later, in the 1980’s, there were many technological advances for the washing machine. There were changes to the parameters that allowed for adjustments of water level, rate, spin and load size/weight of laundry. There were also changes in cycles, depending upon the color or materials washed. The next advances featured methods to save water and energy. 

to the present…

Today’s washers are all electric. People have the choice of either front loading or top loading washers. Washing machines have a few more bells and whistles than those back in the early 1900’s, but the main washing cycle is relatively the same. Today, you can start your laundry with the touch of a button and from anywhere in your home with Bluetooth technology. The process has been made easier with the internet and WiFi.

Samsung Flexwash

For 132 years, the process in which we do laundry has changed and improved, making this task a little less daunting than it first was.


We hope this history of washing machines has inspired you to keep innovate! And don’t forget to submit your fresh laundry innovation ideas to the Church & Dwight Search!

Who knows, you’re idea may be the next big innovation that people are talking about!

Happy washing and Happy inventing! 

6 Comments Laundry Innovations – Through the Years

  1. Terry

    Hi I am new to EN. I haven’t submitted anything previously, but would like to send in an idea for Church & Dwight Clothes Freshning solution.
    It ends on July 16. Today is July 10 so I only have a few days. I won’t be able to have all details in time ie research, samples and images etc. Probably just enough time to file the application with USPTO and register my application with EN. Would basic drawings be acceptable.

  2. Kristina Poindexter

    Hi Terry!

    Welcome to Edison Nation!
    Yes, you can submit basic drawings of your idea to the search. With Edison Nation, it’s all about effectively communicating your idea.

    Make sure you identify a problem, have an idea that can solve the problem and be able to convey this so the Edison Nation review team understands all of the idea’s benefits easily.

    If you can do this with sketch drawings and a description that will be great!

    We look forward to reviewing your idea soon!

  3. Terry

    If I am unable to register my idea with USPTO in time will my idea still be accepted by EN.

  4. Terry

    I the church and Dwight innovation search they have asked:

    Solutions should NOT
    Require the use of a washing machine
    Be standard fabric sprays or dryer wipes/cloths/balls.

    My idea has some of what they are asking /looking for, but it also has what is not required, would my idea still be accepted and is it still worth submitting my idea.

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