Josephine Cochrane brainstormed about her dishwashing machine invention by splashing soapy water on dirty dishes. She quickly realized that the tableware did not need to be scrubbed. She then escaped to her backyard shed to start working on her invention. She hammered together scrap pieces of metal and an old copper boiler to make that first machine. “She worked out a design, one that employed water jets and a [dish rack] that would hold the soiled tableware in place. She measured the dishes and constructed wire compartments to fit plates,cups and saucers, and placed these inside a wheel that lied flat within a copper boiler. The wheel turned, powered by a motor, and soapy water would squirt up over the dishes to clean them (MIT School of Engineering, 2004).”
There were earlier accounts of dishwashing machines than Cochrane’s but they were less effective and still very manual. In an interview she explained why her machine was superior to those made by men of the time “women are inventive, the common opinion to the contrary notwithstanding,” Josephine Cochrane once said. “You see, we are not given a mechanical education, and that is a great handicap. It was to me—not in the way you suppose, however. I couldn’t get men to do the things I wanted in my way until they had tried and failed in their own. And that was costly for me. They knew I knew nothing, academically, about mechanics, and they insisted on having their own way with my invention until they convinced themselves my way was the better, no matter how I had arrived at it (Fenster, 2008).”
Josephine’s concept and design is still being used to this day. The success of her design was in the “tiny” details. Specifically germs. One of the greatest selling points for her machine was the fact that dishrags were harbingers of germs and bacteria and still used to “clean” the dishware. Cochrane’s machine could sanitize the dishes by allowing scolding water to be poured over them thereby eliminating illness causing germs and bacteria. What a great selling point!