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In the bad old days, washing clothes was a chore that took up the whole day, involving buckets and buckets of water and back-breaking scrubbing on hard washboards. The strong soaps people used also damaged the skin.
The burden of the chore fell on women. They often had to spend a whole day doing the laundry.
Inventors made machines to make laundry day easier, but there were problems with many of them — until the Thor washing machine changed everything.
The Thor was the first home washer to run on electricity. It had a metal drum to put dirty clothes in, but you didn’t need to turn the drum yourself. The Hurley Electric Laundry Equipment Co. put the Thor on the U.S. market in 1907. It was an instant hit.
However, water sometimes leaked out of the drum, making the machine dangerous. And after a wash, you still had to wring the clothes dry by hand.
Other companies competed to fix the Thor’s design flaws, and washing machines improved steadily over the years. In the 1920s, washers with waterproof motors appeared. In the 1950s, machines in the U.S. had a spin cycle to shake off water and leave clothes much less wet.
The makers of the Thor tried to appeal to housewives’ wallets with another machine in the 1940s: The Thor Automagic Washer let you clean clothes and dishes in the same machine. Oddly enough, it never caught on.
Today, doing the laundry is still a chore but, happily, it doesn’t have to take up your whole day. (T)
This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.