Image of inventor stood next to the first microwave
3 min. read

The History of Appliances

Our kitchen appliances are an often-overlooked part of our kitchen; they do their job, they do it well and there’s no more to it than that. But, sometimes, our appliances have some very interesting stories behind them. Domex in London bring you this post, ‘The History of Appliances’.

The Washing Machine

The First Washing Machine

Invention: Unknown (1904)

Before the washing machine was invented, washing your clothes was a long and drawn out affair with the usual tactic being to have a large tub of hot water, a washboard and a bar of laundry soap and to scrub until the clothes were clean. The invention of the washing machine put an end to this and as time has gone on, washing machines have become more and more efficient.

Some Interesting Facts:

  • Over 97% of British households own a washing machine
  • People, on average, will do between 2 and 7 washes per week, with the median number of washes being 4

The Tumble Dryer

The First Tumble Dryer

Invention: 1935 by J. Ross Moore (USA)

J. Ross Moore came up with the first concept for a gas and electric based clothes dryer and registered a patent for it in 1935. Unfortunately, he ran into financial difficulties and didn’t see the financial potential of his invention, so he sold the patent to Hamilton Manufacturing in 1936 – no doubt a regrettable decision considering the success it has seen.

Some Interesting Facts:

  • Over 62% of British homes have a tumble dryer
  • Most people limit their tumble dryer use to once per week

The Refrigerator

The First Fridge

Invention: 1834 by Jacob Perkins (USA)

Before the refrigerator was invented, people used to rely on leaving their meats and other perishables in a cool shed, usually covered in salts to preserve them. The refrigerator changed all of this and has since made it easy to store perishable items and almost every home in the UK now has one.

Some Interesting Facts:

  • Over 99% of British homes have a refrigerator
  • 24% of fridges in UK homes are over 10 years old – meaning they could be wasting energy

The Dishwasher


Invention: 1886 by Josephine Cochrane (USA)

Legend has it that the first dishwasher was invented by a fiery American woman called Josephine Cochrane in 1886 who was angry that her servants kept chipping her fine china. She decided that if nobody else was going to invent a dishwasher, she’d take matters into her own hands. A more efficient version of the dishwasher was invented in 1987 by Adrian Sergeant and Phil Brace for Fisher & Paykel.

Some Interesting Facts:

  • Over 41% of British households own a dishwasher
  • Most people use a dishwasher around 4 times per week
  • Around 30% of dishwashers are over 6 years old

The Microwave

The First Microwave

Invention Year: 1945

Invented By: Percy Spencer (USA)

Dr Percy Spencer was an American engineer who first discovered that radiation could be applied to cooking food when he was conducting an experiment and had left a chocolate bar in his pocket. After the experiment had finished, he realised the chocolate bar had melted and started to see the potential for the Microwave oven.

Some Interesting Facts:

  • Over 80% of British households own a microwave

We’ve also created an interactive resource based on the history of appliances which you can see here.

At Domex in London, we fix appliances and our engineers often have an interesting story or two to tell as well. Visit our website to find out more.

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