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The Long History Of Dishwashers

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By Author: Mark Fairey
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If you thought that dishwashers had only been around for the last 40 years or so, you couldn't be more wrong. The first dishwasher that was patented was back in 1850! OK it wasn't quite the same as the dishwashers we have today, but it was invented by one Joel Houghton and was made out of wood. It had a crank handle, and when it was turned, the water found its' way through Houghton's complicated wood plumbing and sprayed the dishes.

However, the machine didn't catch on until 1887 when a very wealthy woman named Josephine Cochrane went to work on Houghton's invention and produced a machine that she entered in the World's Fair. She was wealthy enough not to have to do the washing up herself, but complained that her servants kept chipping her plates and dishes so she made the dishwasher for them to use and so hopefully save her beloved expensive china.

However, the early machines were nowhere near what we have today, and in fact the nearest thing that resembles today's dishwashers was invented in 1924 by an Englishman, whose name seems to have been lost in the mists of time and who installed the rotating sprayer and rack system that is still in use nearly 100 years later. However, in those days not everyone had indoor plumbing, so it remained a toy for the wealthy. By the 1940's a drying feature had been added to the machine, but it wasn't until the 50's that they started to become more commonplace in average homes, and then it was the Americans who adopted the dishwasher first, as was the case with many advances.

Not everyone has a dishwasher even today. Only 75% of American families do, and the figure is no doubt around the same in the UK. The dishwashers we have now such as the Maidaid dishwashers have features like the pre-soak cycle, trays and racks that can be moved and changed around to accommodate different sizes of plates and dishes, and better rotating sprayers.

However, some people don't use a dishwasher because they think that doing the washing up by hand is more environmentally friendly, but that is not the case. Dishwashers have become faster, and at the same time more energy and water efficient. According to the statistics you would have to wash eight full place settings, which is the amount that will fit into the average dishwasher, and not run the tap for more than two minutes to achieve the same results. You also don't need to give dishes a quick rinse before loading them into the machine. All that is necessary is to scrape off any food remnants and let the machine do the rest.

Certainly, older dishwashers weren't too effective if you didn't pre-wash the dishes, but nearly all of the latest machines, such as the Maidaid dishwashers, are fitted with soil sensors and will wash more or wash less according to how dirty the plates and dishes are. They can also do something that we can't do with our hands and that is spray water at 140°F, although experts say that setting the temperature at 120°F is high enough to do the job. In fact, if you pre-wash the dishes it is reckoned that families would be wasting over 6,000 gallons of water every year. If you pre-wash the dishes in running hot water and then wash them in an older machine which doesn't have the energy-saving features of today's models, that is the worst of all worlds from a conservation point of view.

Of course, some people do still do the washing up by hand not because they want to nor because they believe they are saving the planet, but for the simple reason that they don't have enough room in their kitchens for a dishwasher. It's true that some kitchens even today are quite small, and by the time you have packed in a washing machine, fridge, and freezer, there just isn't any more space, particularly if you live in a small flat.

However, here is some food for thought: it has been calculated that if you wash by hand instead of in a dishwasher, it takes an average of 230 hours a year, or about ten full days. That means that if you live to the average age you will have spent two years of your life washing up!

Mr Whiteware Catering Equipment is the leading UK supplier of all types of catering equipment, including the full range of Maidaid dishwashers.

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