Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
  Space Travel News  




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



100 years later, laundry may be easier but have we saved any time?

always time for a reality check...
by Staff Writers
Chicago (AFP) Oct 21, 2007
A century after the first electric washing machines promised to take the work out of laundry, it doesn't seem like today's multi-cycle magicians are saving us much time.

Sure we don't have to boil the water and lug it by hand over to big metal tubs. Nor do we have to strain our arms running sopping wet clothes through a wringer thanks the advent of the spin cycle.

But, somehow, the pile of washing has managed to grow ever larger with every seemingly time-saving advance.

"It used to be that people used to let their clothes get really dirty before they washed them," said Susan Strasser, author of "Never Done: a history of American housework."

"Now, we use a towel once and we throw it in the wash."

Laundry was always the most dreaded household chore and the first to be offloaded whenever women had enough extra money to send it out.

It took hours to haul the water from a well, heat it on a stove, soak and scrub the clothes, and then wring them out with hands that became raw and chapped from the hot water and caustic cleaning agents like lye and lime.

Then the clothes and linens had to be hung on a line and pressed with an iron heated on the stove or fire.

While laundry tools are nearly as old as the chore itself, H. Sidgier of Great Britain is credited with inventing the first washing machine in 1782: a cage of wooden rods with a handle for turning.

But the scrub board, invented in 1797, proved far more popular until machines with drums and clothes wringers emerged about 50 to 60 years later.

By the turn of the 19th century, hundreds of companies were selling washing machines with ad campaigns promising to eliminate the drudgery of "blue Mondays."

The Nineteen Hundred Washer Company, which later became Whirlpool, even stamped "Save Women's Lives" on the side of their machines.

"They said they were guaranteed to prevent farm women from committing suicide," said Lee Maxwell, a retired engineering professor who runs a museum in Colorado with over 1,000 antique washing machines.

"The ads would try to get at the emotions of the man ... because the work of farm women was unbearable."

But laundry was still exhausting, and dangerous, work.

Water still had to be heated, hauled and drained, the crank was still turned by hand and women often got their fingers or hair caught in the wringer.

Ads for electric washing machines first started emerging in 1906, cutting down on the muscle power needed to agitate the clothes. An electric wringer soon followed, as did water pumps and heaters.

They were of little use for most people until the 1920's and 1930's when running water and electricity reached the American masses.

In 1922, Maytag introduced the first finned agitator which forced water through the clothes rather than dragging the clothes through the water.

A popular innovation, the company is now the oldest America washing machine brand and celebrates its 100th anniversary this month.

But even so, washing machines ended up making more work for a lot of women, rather than less.

"Obviously it made housework easier, but it meant commercial laundries stopped being used so it brought the work back to the household," said Strasser, who is a history professor at the University of Delaware.

In 1937, Bendix introduced the first automatic washing machine which could wash, rinse and spin dry in one cycle.

By the 1950s washing machines were ubiquitous, and available in a range of colors from pastels to gold and coffee tones.

About 95 percent of US households now own at least one washing machine and growing number are installing a second unit in the closets of master bedrooms, according to Appliance magazine.

Increased energy efficiency and new functions such as larger-capacity front loaders and quieter cycles has also spurred sales, with nearly 9.5 million washers and eight million dryers shipped to US stores last year.

Related Links
Powering The World in the 21st Century at Energy-Daily.com



Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News


Kansas rejects coal-fired power plant
Holcomb, Kan. (UPI) Oct 19, 2007
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment denied the air quality permit for two proposed 700-megawatt generators at the Sunflower Electric Power Corp.







  • Jules Verne Dry Cargo Prepared In Turin
  • J-2X Powerpack Test Article Installed On Test Stand
  • Dawn Of A Long Voyage To The Beginning Of Sol And Beyond
  • Kennedy Prepares To Host Constellation Launch Vehicle

  • United Launch Alliance Managed Delta 2 Launches New GPS For US Air Force
  • ATK Propulsion And Composite Technologies Help Launch GPS Satellite
  • United Launch Alliance Atlas V Awarded Two NASA Missions
  • Russia Says Space Launch Vehicles Tests To Start On Schedule

  • Discovery mission key to International Space Station construction
  • NASA Assigns Crew For Final Solar Array Delivery To Station
  • Space Shuttle Crew Arrives Friday
  • Countdown Begins For STS-120 As Shuttle Crew Arrives In Florida

  • Columbus Hatch Closed For Last Time
  • Expedition 15 Set To Return Home
  • Soyuz Docks With ISS
  • SpaceX Completes NASA CDR For New Dragon

  • Malaysia cheers historic space odyssey
  • First Stop Moon. Next Stop, Mars
  • First Malaysian in space returns to Earth
  • Chinese Taikonauts May Build Communist Party Branch In Space

  • China reveals space plans
  • China Plans Ambitious Space Program Over Decade Ahead
  • Nation Hopes To Cooperate In Space
  • China says still open to space cooperation with US

  • UCSD Researchers Give Computers Common Sense
  • Japan's robot industry forecasts strong growth
  • Robotic Rockhounds: Interview with David Wettergreen Part 2
  • Robots With Legs

  • UA's Phoenix Mars Mission Gets A Chance To Lounge
  • Hawaii Reveals Steamy Martian Underground
  • Hummocky And Shallow Maunder Crater
  • NASA extends Mars probes' mission for 5th time

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright Space.TV Corporation. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space.TV Corp on any Web page published or hosted by Space.TV Corp. Privacy Statement