What were the first washing machines?

Once upon a time, the washing of clothes was a real chore. It was also extremely time-consuming and, above all else, dull. To begin with, humans were not too concerned about keeping their clothes clean. It was a hard enough job making sure they were clean themselves let alone their clothes. Nevertheless, following the Black Death and various other plagues, plus the discovery of microbes, it was realised that keeping clean was the best way to avoid infection and illness.

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At first, cleaning was done in the nearest available water source. As this was probably the local river, it ended up causing issues with the drinking water supply, especially if soap was used. The one saving grace for those responsible for cleaning the clothes was that there weren’t many to do as clothes were expensive. Washing involved lots of beating and scrubbing of the garments.

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In 1851, James King had the admiration of the world when he patented the world’s first washing machine. This was a large affair designed for businesses looking to set up the first launderettes. This began to change as more and more people demanded that a smaller version be made for domestic purposes. Until then, Schaffer’s barrel design, where the clothes are tumbled by crank hand, was a very popular choice  and still saved people hours of hard work. The Integrated Washing Machines, like those we see from were still many years away.

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