Long before washing machines, well into the 20th century, laundry was washed by laundresses who did the job by hand in washhouses or in rivers.
Washing clothes: From the rivers to the washhouses
This type of laundry was physically demanding work. The laundresses often squatted or knelt for days on end washing the laundry, both in summer and in winter. During the cold months, they had to break the ice that formed in the washhouses or on the rivers.
The wash house, a roofed room, was supposed to facilitate the work of the laundresses. This type of establishment was even an outward sign of prosperity. The more washhouses a village could build, the better its status.
First washing machines arrive
The washing machine was invented by Englishman John Tizack, who in 1691 registered the first patent for a machine that could wash textiles.
So the inventor of the washing machine originally comes from England. Tizack paves the way to easy washing for millions.
The Americans applied for a patent about 30 years later
30 years later, the American Nathaniel Briggs registered the first patent for a washing machine model. Back then, hot water had to be poured into the tub, and the laundry washed with a crank and wrung out between two rollers. The tub was then emptied with a faucet.
The modern washing machine was born
In 1946, the first models of fully automatic washing machines in America could be purchased by well-heeled households. Automatic laundry washing was initially a rather priceless luxury and a challenge.
The washing machine became more affordable
In the United States, given the prohibitive price of these newly developed machines, it was mainly laundromats that were equipped with washer and dryer.
Laundromats spread to all major cities in the 1950s and 1960s. In the same period, the first automatic models came onto the market in Germany.
Between 1970 and 1980 electronics came along and all manufacturers used this technology to further improve their machines. The fully automatic washing machine industry became cheaper and cheaper and found its way into more and more households.
The last problem that arose was wool washing. The manufacturer Miele solved this problem in 1997. Miele washing machines were the first to be able to gently clean wool.