Then and Now: Trends in Washing Machines since the 1950s

Then and Now: Trends in Washing Machines since the 1950s

Then and Now: Trends in Washing Machines since the 1950s

Washing machines have come a long way over the decades and centuries. It’s hard to deny the amount of labour saved by these modern appliances far outweighs the cost and the convenience of not having to fetch jugs of water from a well and scrubbing by hand. During the 1950s in particular, washing machines saw widespread adoption gradually around the world. The machines of today have come a long way; here is a brief overview of the trends in washing machine technology.

Early Wringing and Automatic Washing Machines

The earliest known washing machines were manually operated washboards that used raw human muscle to wring, wrangle, and scrub and wash clothes through soapy water and a rinse bucket. The first known patent was made in England in 1691, but comparing these early washing machines to today’s wifi-powered smart washers would be like comparing the Jacquard loom, technically an old computer, to a modern smartphone. These antique washing boards bear little resemblance to modern drum and Toploader machines, but over the centuries the technology began to resemble the washing machines of today.

Early Electric Washing Machines

The first electric washing machines were introduced at the beginning of the 20th century. The problem with these early inventions was twofold: electricity was not widely available in the developed world until at least the 1930s and these machines tended to be inefficient and unsafe. The innovation of more efficient electric washing machines was also put on hold during the Second World War due to the high demand for resources for the war effort.

Postwar Years

In the years following the Second World War, mass adoption of automatic, electric washing machines began in earnest. By the late 1950s, most households in the US owned an electric washing machine and many other countries began to purchase more affordable (although relatively still expensive), efficient, and practical washing machines as well.

In Europe and Britain, most washing machines tended (and still do) to be front-loaders whereas the US had popularised the use of toploaders with General Electric’s early machines.

Electronic Integration

In the 1970s, electronics began to be integrated into many aspects of day to day life, including in washing machines. Electronics were useful for correcting the rotation of drums found in washing machines, which hitherto had a tendency to ‘walk’ and to shake vigorously when in use. Electronic sensors allowed the drum to correct its own speed in accordance with safe and manageable limits.

Energy Efficiency

Whether for the environment or to address the high energy consumption of washing machines, efforts were made in the latter half of the 20th century to increase the energy efficiency of washing machines. The problem arises due to the heating of water, which consumes a large amount of energy, perhaps more so than any other appliance in the home. In Europe, the A+++ to G rating scale empowers consumers by allowing greater choice amongst energy-efficient appliances. American models use the Energy Star symbol to denote a degree of energy efficiency.

Smart Homes

Today’s washing machines are now often smart-home equipped with wifi sensors and electronic control panels that often allow homeowners to fine-tune washing loads and to effect repairs of minor issues on their own. This trend is expected to become standard in the coming years, with owners being able to remotely control wash cycles from their smartphones, for example.

Repair Your Washing Machine with Domestic Appliance Repair

Throwing away washing machines is wasteful and bad for the environment, so call Domestic Appliance Repair to have your washing machine repaired and in good running condition for years to come.

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By | 2024-01-09T05:59:21+00:00 February 23rd, 2020|Blog|0 Comments