Virtual House

Washing Machines


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Illustration of copper gas heated washing machine (1950s)
Gas heated washing copper (1950s) -
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Before the days of washing machines, people got dirt out of their clothes by banging them on rocks and washing the dirt away in streams.

Traditional laundry tools : Scrubbing Board and Wooden Tub
Traditional handwashing tools

In 1874 American merchant William Blackstone built a machine which removed and washed away dirt from clothes as a birthday present for his wife. It consisted of a wooden tub in which there was a flat piece of wood containing six small wooden pegs. Dirty clothes were hung on the wooden pegs and swished about in hot soapy water. Mr. Blackstone began to build and sell his washers for $2.50 each. Five years later he moved his company to New York where it’s located today and where it still produces washing machines.

A modern washing machine has a drum inside it which spins round and round, mixing dirty clothes up with soap and water. The drum is powered by an electric motor. The soap and water loosen dirt and stains from the material and then clean water rinses away the soap and the dirt. Finally, the drum spins around very fast to fling off water and to partly dry the load.


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