Who invented the dishwasher?

Restaurants are one way for us to fulfill our cravings and satisfy our hunger. With the variety of dishes most of them offer, it is no wonder that restaurants have a lot of customers. 

However, knowing the number of customers a restaurant caters every day, we might come to think about one thing – who’s doing the dishes? While it is pretty easy to hire someone to do the dishes, another practical option is to utilize our technology. 

In our modern world, we already developed a way to wash the dishes automatically with significantly lesser effort. This method is through the use of a dishwasher. 

A dishwasher is a machine that helps in cleaning dishware and cutlery. It operates with a push of a button and works using a spray of hot water, along with dishwasher detergent. This device is perfect for restaurants for a faster and safer washing, but it could be as efficient when used at home. 

Moreover, about seventy-five percent of American households own a dishwasher. We can say that the dishwasher is one of the necessities in our homes, and it could help us save a lot of time and effort. 

Knowing all this information could make us think – who invented the dishwasher? What is its history? In this article, we are going to look into the history of the dishwasher. 

The History of Dishwasher

If we do a little background check on some of the inventions in history, we will notice that most of them are a product of an accident or triggered by necessity. It is also where the saying “necessity is the mother of invention,” originated. The history of the dishwasher is the perfect example of this saying.  

The dishwasher proves to be a blessing for many households, as well as restaurants and other food joints. This brilliant invention was invented by a wealthy American woman, Josephine Cochrane, who came up with the idea because of her servants’ continuous carelessness.

Cochrane lived in Illinois and had a group of servants residing with her. She often regards her servants as clumsy because of their repeated breaking of porcelain dishes while washing them. These occurrences made Cochrane angry since most of the dishes were costly, and some were even imported from foreign countries. Some of the servants who were guilty of the damage exerted effort in trying to repair the broken dishwares, while some caught themselves in a helpless condition.

The continuous breaking of dishes was already too much for Cochrane, then came 1886, when she heard a familiar sound of something shattering on the floor. She rushed into the kitchen, where she had her maid caught red-handed with broken chinaware on the floor. 

The last broken dish is what triggered Cochrane to come up with a better way to clean their plates and avoid further damages. In response to what happened, she took all her dishes and brought them into the woodshed near her home –  along with a mechanic named George Butters.

Inside the woodshed, she picked up a strong wire and made separate compartments with it to hold each dishware and fastened them around a wheel inside a drum. Then she created a way to spray hot and soapy water onto the dishes, washing them. Interestingly, her invention worked as she expected.

She showed her invention to her friends, and they were amazed at the device – some even requested to have a unit made for them. Because of this unexpected success, she Cochrane showcased her dishwasher in the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 and won the top award. Her dishwasher spread all over the news, which gained its popularity. The fame of her invention attracted several hotels and restaurants in the locality, giving her contracts to make dishwashers for them. 

Interestingly, Cochrane was not the only person who came up with the idea of dishwashers. In 1850, an American named Joel Houghton acquired a patent for a similar device, as well as L A Alexander, in 1865. However, their patents were merely an idea and were inconsistent. That is why in 1897, Cochrane took a patent for her invention and started a business to produce dishwashers on a large scale. She hired Butters as her first employee in her company – Garis-Cochrane Manufacturing Company, which turned out to be very successful. 

The success of the company led to the creation of smaller versions of dishwashers, which were intended for home use. However, the use of dishwashers in homes didn’t acquire much attention during the early 20th century.

Throughout the years, other companies marketed various models of the dishwasher. In the mid-2000s, the sale of dishwashers dramatically increased, mainly in America and Europe. In our modern world, the dishwasher is one of the most common home appliances in various countries around the globe.

Additional reading:

Dishwasher (Wikipedia)

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