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A Look at the Past: The History of Dishwashers


The dishwasher is a very common household appliance. It is considered one of the most staple and important tool in modern kitchens with advanced features that make regular chores much easier. They are much loved because they get the job done quickly and efficiently, saving users a great deal of their time, money, and energy. Behind its convenience, the dishwasher has a history that can be traced back to almost 170 years ago.

Early dishwasher inventions

1850 marks a historic year for dishwashers. The first dishwasher was invented by Joel Houghton from America. His version of a dishwasher was a patented wooden machine with a wheel that needed to be turned by hand. Upon turning, water was splashed onto dirty dishes.


Of course, this invention was still very far from the commonly-known dishwasher today, but it was the pioneer of dishwashers in the world, and it sets the course for modern, sleek dishwashers that exist in almost every kitchen today.

15 years later, L.A. Alexander patented an invention that made use of a hand crank and gearing. These compartments spun dishes on a rack. Although it was a fresh modification during its time, it was still not effective in cleaning dirty dishes thoroughly.

Going mechanical

Fast-forward to 1886, Josephine Cochrane boldly came up with the first hand-operated mechanical dishwasher. Unfortunately, when she showcased her creation at the 1893 World Fair, it was not seen as a staple household item, and only large hotels and restaurants took notice of her invention. She eventually founded KitchenAid, a dishwasher-manufacturing company. However, dishwashers from that era were still inefficient because it needed jets of hot water, and electricity was still not widespread then.

Dishwashers for domestic use

In 1924, dishwashers were finally adjusted to being more suitable for domestic use. It was the handiwork of an engineer, William Howard Livens. Dishwashers did not immediately gain the expected popularity until 1950. Since then, dishwashers have been produced at a cheaper cost and a more convenient size. The most appealing ones to the public were portable table-top varieties, such as Electrolux’s D10 model, which was released in 1959.

At the time it was 1970, counter models were considered the standard for dishwashers, and in 1980, it was no longer a question not to set aside some space for it when families were designing a new kitchen.

Dishwashers today

These days, dishwashers have gone through multiple updates and improvements. For example, dishwashers have food disposal units that can transfer leftover food directly into the trash conveniently. They can also have noise-reducing features, sensors, multiple wash cycles, and temperature control, among others. There are also dishwashers that can completely dry dishes after every wash cycle, which greatly reduces the hassle of hand-drying.


Since dishwashers are very useful in both domestic and commercial settings, both can have slightly different features too. For example, most domestic dishwashers are unable to sterilize utensils, but commercial dishwashers offer features like hot water rinsing or chemical sanitization, which are of great value due to the increasing awareness towards health and hygiene.