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In the beginning, people would clean their clothes in a stream by rubbing the clothing with sand or rocks. Fast forward to Colonial times, they would boil their clothing in a large pot then smack the clothing with a large paddle. By the early 1800s, the wooden washboard became a common appliance. By 1833, metal washboards replaced wooden washboards.


During America’s industrial revolution, Hamilton Smith was the first to create a rotary washing machine in 1858 in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. It was the first of its kind to save people a lot of time and effort to wash clothing. It consisted of a hand-turned crank that squeezed water into the clothing. In 1874, William Blackstone built a more efficient version of Hamilton’s washing machine as a birthday present for his wife.

The first commercial washing machine was invented by Alva J. Fisher in 1908; he called his new invention “the Thor.” The Thor was a drum washing machine with a stirring tub and was marketed by the Hurley Machine Company of Chicago. Instead of being hand-powered, the Thor is believed to be the first washing machine that ran on electricity.

According to cnet, there are about 150 different washing machine models sold in the US now with many different features. You can choose between a front load or top load washing machine in many different colors and sizes. Lots of modern washing machines have advanced features like multiple wash cycles, temperature settings, and high-speed levels (Appliances Connection).

Fun Fact: The commercial washing machine brand “Mayteg” started in our very own Newton, Iowa.

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