Who Invented the Electric Washing Machine?

The washing machine has become an essential household appliance. But not long ago, clothes were washed by hand over steaming tubs of hot water. With the invention of electricity, many new time-saving devices appeared on the market, including the vacuum cleaner, mixer and the electric washing machine.

Early Versions

Who Invented the Electric Washing Machine?

The washboard was invented in 1797. James King invented an early version of the washing machine in 1851 that was hand-operated and shaped like a drum.

Hand-Powered Washing Machine

William Blackstone created a washing machine for his wife in 1874. A wooden paddle moved the clothes around a series of wooden pegs to knock dirt loose. Blackstone began building and selling his new invention for $2.50.

First Electric Washing Machine

Alva J. Fisher invented the first electric washing machine in 1908. It was called the "Thor" and was manufactured by the Hurley Machine Company in Chicago.

Well Known Companies

Although he originally manufactured farm equipment, F.L. Maytag came out with a washing machine in 1907. The Upton Machine Company, which became Whirlpool, introduced a washing machine in 1911.

Clothes Dryer

In the early 1800s, a ventilator type clothes dryer, consisting of a drum with holes in it, was turned over a fire to dry clothes. George T. Sampson's 1892 invention used the heat from a stove. The first electric clothes dryers were available around 1915.

About the Author

I have been a professional historian, museum curator, and author for more than a decade. I have served as the Museums Editor at BellaOnline since 2004. I am qualified to serve as an expert in a variety of historical topics. My expertise includes the Victorian Age and McKinley's presidency, the Roaring Twenties, the 1950s, the flu, museum studies, material culture, architecture, and more. I have a BA in history and an MA in history museum studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program. Please see my bio on my employer's website for more: http://www.mckinleymuseum.org/speakers_bureau/speaker/2