1. Timeline Factors

Design and Prototyping

There was a time when washing machines were not yet invented people were creative and came up with ways to clean their clothing. “Earlier, people used to clean their clothes by pounding them on hard rocks or scrubbing them with abrasive sands and wash away the dirt in rivers or lakes (Know the inventions of washing machines).” This was one of the methods once used to wash clothes it worked effectively, but took hours to clean the clothes and days to dry them. “The first way on how to wash clothes was using a near water source and washing with your hands (Washing Machine Timeline,2012).” The first form of a washing machine was created in 1797 and was referred to as the wash board wash. An American man by the name of James King patented the first wash board. The wash board worked manually with a person’s hands by rubbing the clothes up and down the board and using soap to remove the stains and clean the clothes. In 1851 James King discovered and patented the first washing machine to use a drum, this machine was still operated manually by hand. In 1858 a man by the name of William Blackstone created the first washing machine that could be used in the home, this washing machine removed dirt from clothing, but was still not electronic. “The first electronic powered washing machine was invented in 1908 by Alva J Fisher (Washing Machine Timeline, 2012).” This washing machine was manufactured by the Hurley Machine Company of Chicago and was referred to as the Thor. This was the first washing machine that was electric powered and had a tub and an electric motor. “The earlier washing machines had heavy, cast-iron mechanism mounted on the tub lid (Know the inventions of washing machines).” By the early 1950’s American companies created washing machines with the spin dry feature. In 1957 the first washing machine that featured five buttons was introduced to the home. To date there is not one individual responsible for inventing the washing machine, because over time there has been many different models and makes. Today there are a variety of different brands, types, and styles that do just about anything it all depends on a families’ preference for their washing machine. It all started with a manual hand wash board and continues to develop more and more today with the electronic washers.

The first washboard ever invented.

The first washboard ever invented.

The 2016 Kenmore front loading washing machine.

The 2016 Kenmore front loading washing machine.

Manufacturing and Production

“Many washing machines are no longer made by the companies shown on the logo, or they have been taken over by bigger companies with a different ethos (Trigg, 2013).” The top four washing machine manufacturers in the world are GE, Kenmore (Sears), Maytag, and Whirlpool. Asko and Miele are both European brands and Fisher and Paykel are imported from New Zealand while LG and Samsung are from Korea, and Haier from China. Washing machines are being manufactured all over the world it just depends on which brand it is, with the top four brands mainly being manufactured in the United States. The manufacturing process of a washing machine is split into three steps. First is the fabrication this is the step that includes making the parts of the machine. The second step is the sub-assembly this entails putting the parts together to make components. The last and final step is the actual assembly this is putting the components together to form the final product. Washing machines are made by both workers and machines all over the world in factories, most washing machines are manufactured in the US. Manufacturing washing machines is not an easy job workers are forced to work in factories not always under the best conditions. Machines do part of the work and people do the other parts. It is all about working at a fast pace and being efficient, it’s an assembly line if one step is messed up it will affect the following steps of the process. The machines in the factories are generally used to cut, shape, melt and mold the metal used to assemble the machines. Next the workers will manually bolt, snap, or press, several shafts and gears together. The machine will then automatically assemble the pump, and create the tub parts in presses, while the workers assemble the rest of the parts (Washing Machines, 2016).


“The washing machines is said to be one of the greatest inventions of all time, especially in relation to the household appliance industry (Washing Machine Wizard, 2007).” It was in the 1950’s that the first electric washing machine with five buttons was introduced to households. It was around this time that most women stayed at home and took care of the house hold chores. While their husbands went to work to help support the family. In the article Women’s role in the 1950’s Nina talks about how women were not only responsible for the household chores, but for also purchasing the household appliances. Advertisements showed women performing all the tasks of the household and looking happy and content while doing it. A lot of times women were the one’s featured in the advertisements for appliances considering they were the ones that bought and operated the appliances majority of the time. “Seeing as most of the domestic chores were relegated by women, laundering garments were causing women pains, sickness, and fatigue (Washing Machine Wizard, 2007).” This was when washing machines were done manually it was a lot of work and strain on the women’s body. Companies have always aimed toward marketing washing machines toward women, with the norm being women are domestic and perform the household duties. Still today women are featured in washing machine advertisements and continue to be the one who primarily does the laundry in any household.

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Women are always the face of washing machine advertisements.

Women are always the face of washing machine advertisements.



There are a lot of factors that come into play when people look to purchase a new washer, they look for high efficiency, speed, style, sometimes even color, they also take into consideration front load washers or top load washers. “The washer and dryer industry experienced a dip in sales between 2009 and 2012 (Washer and Dryer Statistics).” The market has picked up again in recent years, “Washer are forecast to play a large role in the developing market with estimated revenue of over 3.5 billion U.S. dollars generated by smart washers globally in 2015 (Washer and Dryer statistics).” According to the consumer report of 2013 customers prefer to purchase Kenmore, Maytag, Electrolux, and Samsung models of front loading washing machines. According to the consumer report of 2013 customers prefer Samsung and LG when purchasing a top loading washer.

User Support and Maintenance

The user support varies for every washing machine company, but they all share the common interest of offering support to consumers to help with any issues they may experience with their appliance. Most companies offer 24/7 phone assistance to help the customer try to trouble shoot the problem themselves. If that does not solve the problem, they can schedule service with a qualified technician. Whatever the case may be each company strives to help serve their customer in any way they can and keep them satisfied. According to Persil maintenance is important for any washing machine and if the washing machine is not properly cared for it can affect the results of future washes. Cleaning a washing machine two to three times a year can help to extend the life of the appliance, and can improve its ability to continue to get the job done in an effective and efficient manner. Maintenance of the washer requires running it two to three time a year without any clothing, on the hottest wash option, with a proper amount of detergent. “This ‘maintenance wash’ will help to keep the machine and the outlet pipes clean and free from a build-up of dirt, grease, and hard water salts (Persil)” This helps to prevent residue build up, odor prevention, and helps the machine last longer over time.

Recycling and Disposal

According to the home guides, “the average lifespan of a washer, whether it’s a top loader or a front loader, is about 14 years.” The biggest cause of a washer to break down is the stress put on it overtime from overloading the washer as well as over using it. There are several different ways to dispose of washing machines once no longer wanted in a safe and proper way to avoid affecting the environment. “Depending on where you live and what condition your appliances are in, you might have a variety of ways to make sure your machines go to a good cause, or at least don’t do the environment any damage (home guides).” If the washing machine is still in a decent condition most of the parts can be recycled for scrap metal. Or you could donate the washing machine if still in working condition to a family in need.

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