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Fun Facts About Washing Machines

Kimberley Elliot
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The washing machine has gone from a luxury item at the turn of the last century to a necessity today. Over half the homes in the United States currently have a separate laundry room.

Airing out the dirty laundry in front of a washing machine.

With all the information about troubleshooting the sophisticated technology and the best means of stain removal, there are still some surprising facts about washing machines.

Cultural Significance

L'Ossovatore Romano, the newspaper of the Vatican, announced that the washing machine had more to do with women's liberation than the birth control pill or their right to work. A University of Montreal study agreed, pointing out that home appliances, including the washing machine, freed women's time, enabling them to enter the workforce.


The first washing machines appeared in the 1760s. These were commonly a wooden box that was filled with clothes and rotated by hand. In 1874, William Blackstone invented a machine that used pegs and gears to push clothes through soapy water as a birthday present to his wife. Today, the company he founded still produces washing machines. In 2001 Electrolux introduced Washy Talky, the washing machine that speaks to you with such memorable phrases as "drop the detergent, close the lid and relax."


You can clean your washing machine by adding two cups of vinegar to the wash cycle. Don't use any other detergent or put in any laundry. Run through the full cycle.

Detergent counteracts bleach so they don't work well when you put them in the washing machine together. Pour in bleach only in the last five minutes of the wash cycle.

Your washing machine could be germ ridden, actually adding germs to clothes rather than removing them. Wash most clothes in hot water, especially underwear. It's an ever better idea to add bleach when you're cleaning underwear.


The average American family does 8 to 10 loads of laundry each week, for a total of about 50 pounds. Almost 90 percent of laundry is done by women. The average load contains 16 different items and takes just under an hour and half to be washed and dried.

Is Hand Washing Better?

The inventor James Dyson claims that 15 minutes of hand washing cleans clothes better than one hour in the best German machine available. He says that hand washing flexes the clothing, which machines cannot do. (Except, of course, for the machine he invented.)