History of the Washing Machine & Gender Technology.

Overtime, how have the washing machines impacted women’s roles in their homes and outside? How has it impacted societies, culturally or socially? 

History of Washing Machine 

  • 1782- First washing machine designed by H. Sidgier of Great Britain (People had to scrub their clothes on a scrubbing board and hang it up to dry.)
  • 1797- the washboard was the earliest washing machine


  • mid-1800s- Chinese owned & operated most of the laundries in California


  • 1874- among many of the earliest inventors of washing machine was an Indiana corn planter & manufacturer named William Blackston who created a washing machine as a birthday gift for his wife


  • 1893- Maytag Corporation began with F. L. Maytag
  • 1900- first electric washing machine developed (motor moved the tub)


  • 1908- Hurley Machine Company of Chicago, Illinois introduced the first ever electric-power washing machine, named Thor (a drum form with a stimulated tub and an electric motor).
  • 1911- Whirpool Corporation started as the Uptown Machine Company, founded in St. Joseph, Michigan to produce electric-motor driven wringer washers
  • 1922- Maytag Corpor. began producing agitator washing machine


  • 1960s- Automation washing machine began


  • 1990- James Dyson, a British inventor, invented a washing machine with two cylinders rotating in opposite directions, which reduced the wash time and produced better results.
  • 1994- Staber Industries introduced the System 200 washing machine, which was the only top loading, horizontal-axis washer manufactured in the US. This washin machine has hexagonal tub that spin like front loading machines, but use only a third of the water as the conventional top loaders.
  • 2001- Whirpool Corporation introduced the Calypso, the first vertical-axis high efficiency washing machine to be top loading.
  • 2006- Sanyo introduced the first drum type washing machine with “Air Wash” function, which uses only 50 liters of water, in the recycle mode.
  • 2008- University of Leeds created a washing machine that uses only 1 cup of water to carry out a full wash and leaves clothes dry, using less than 2% of the water and energy, otherwise used by a conventional machine.


The Impact of Washing Machines 

Who and what does the washing machine impact? 

  • People’s living styles. At least everyday women or men take time out of their regular day/schedule to do laundry and keep their clothes clean.
  • Helped wash clothes more efficiently and without any struggle. (Women found relief from doing laundry since it was considered “woman’s work”. Also it was satisfying for them to get the “chore of Monday’s” done, and be able to sit down, have a cup of coffee and relax for a bit.)
  • It gives people convenience for and of having clean clothes.
  • Created more work for women instead of making life better. Women were considered to do laundry, since it was considered “woman’s work.”
  • Expenses. To wash you have to buy detergent, fabric softener liquids, dryer sheets and all these other products that help when doing laundry, which can be expensive.
  • It has made life so much easier.
  • Simplify life’s.
  • Standards of cleanliness.
  • In South Africa, women did not accept the advancement of the washing machine because some thought that it damaged their clothes.
  • Made some people compete as to who was up to date with the newest washing machine. Some families even had their washing machines in the living rooms or a meeting place so their guest could see that they were able to afford a washing machine

Who profits from washing machines? 

  • Manufacturers
  • Stores who sell washing machines
  • Women, if they do laundry for other people and get paid for it (launderettes).
  • Commercials who promote washing machines
  • Laundromats

Who lives with the consequences of washing machines? 

  • Anyone who uses the washing machine, in general; without washing machines people are not going to be able to keep their clothes clean.
  • Before washing machines started developing and upgrading more and more, they were considered dangerous because they would usually harm people by cutting then. For example, the wringer washing machine left many people with scars on their hands.

    This is a postcard stamp, yet it still shows people the danger they went through while using these unimproved washing machines.

Are Washing Machines Gender Technology? 

With the advancement of the washing machine gender type varied among different foreign countries.

  • South Africa

-Men hate the washing machine cause it made their women lazier.

-Proper role of African women are hard-working domestic labourers who keep their households clean and well cared.

-In the article Washing Machines make Lazy Women by Helen Meintjes – Tsepo: “I marry somebody, she must work for me.  She’s got two hands.  No machines are necessary for polishing or washing anything.”


-Both men & women do laundry cause it’s very important to keep yourself clean especially clothes ( the whiter the better)

  • U.S.

-Women still do laundry

-Nowadays varies you see men doing laundry (single/college guys)

  •  Ads & commercials are targeted to women telling them that the new washer makes their life easier.




Is it considered progress?
  •  Even though there has been progress in the washing machines, still many foreign countries cannot afford to have one because of poverty


  •  Even though the washing machine has had a lot of progress and development, the gender stereotype that women are still supposed to do this chore, has not changed.
  • Now washing machines have different variations of cycles for different types of clothing care.

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