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History of the Dishwasher

As a kid, washing and drying the dishes was a chore that was decided by playing rock, paper, scissors with your sibling. Gone are the days of pruney fingers and never-ending soap bubbles. Dishwashers are a common, everyday appliance in most American homes.

You depend on your dishwasher daily and over time it will break down due to its age and extensive use. At Atlas Appliance Repairs, we are there for you and your dishwasher with excellent appliance repair throughout the Philadelphia region.

Although we use our dishwashers all the time, do we know where they came from or who helped create the modern product we own today? As we talked about the history of refrigerators in a previous blog post, here are some facts about dishwashers and their origins.

Early Products

The first patent for a mechanical dishwashing apparatus appeared in the United States by Joel Houghton during 1850. Houghton’s invention was constructed out of wood and water was showered onto the dirty dishes by hand cranking the machine. Just 15 years later, LA Alexander improved on Houghton’s design by adding a rack system.


Josephine Garis Cochran took things a step further and created the first successful automatic dishwasher in 1886. Cochran comes from a line of creators as her grandfather John Fitch was the inventor of the steamboat and her father John Garis was a civil engineer. Apparently, Cochran was fairly wealthy and owned servants who were chipping her dishes. To stop this, she invented the dishwasher. The design of her dishwasher included a wooden wheel lying in a copper boiler. The wheel was powered by a pulley and the dishes sat in wired slots. Cochran displayed her creation at the 1893 World’s Fair located in Chicago for all to see. It was a success, and she eventually started a company to sell them. This company became KitchenAid.

Across the Pond

In Europe, a domestic dishwasher powered by an electric motor was manufactured by Miele in 1929. However, the stock market crash hampered sales. William Howard Livens, a British soldier and inventor, devised a dishwasher that had a front door used for loading, racks and a rotating sprayer. In the years following World War II, domestic sales of dishwashers increased, and by the 1970s, dishwashers became common.

If you’re in need of dishwasher or refrigerator repair in the Philadelphia area, Atlas Appliance Repairs will get it working again quickly at an affordable rate. Call us today at 1-215-335-33961-215-335-3396 or visit us online.