If there is one chore most people despise it's having to clean up after a great meal. Dishwashing can be a relaxing activity if there are only a few plates and some forks and knives to wash up. But after cooking an eight-course meal and enjoying a lovely evening with friends and family, who feels like soaking their hands in a dirty kitchen sink for a few hours?
Dishwashers have changed the way we do our clean up. Just load the dishes in and while you are off doing something else, they are washed and dried. What could be simpler?
Our desire to free ourselves from the burden of cleaning dishes dates back to 1850, when Joel Houghton invented the first dishwasher. It worked by turning a wheel by hand that splashed water on the dishes inside a wooden drum. It wasn't a huge success and didn't do a very good job but Houghton nonetheless held the first dishwasher patent.
After that came Josephine Cochrane, a society woman from Illinois, who invented the first full automated dishwasher in 1886. Cochrane held lavish dinner parties and though she had a full staff of kitchen help, she wanted a machine that would do the job quicker and with less chance for broken dishware. The machine she wanted didn't exist, so she made her own.
Her invention worked much better than Houghton's wooden dishwasher - in 1893, Cochrane unveiled her machine at the World fair in Chicago. Her automatic dishwasher won the highest award and she went on to create the company that became Kitchen Aid.
Today, dishwashers use high pressure water jets to spray wash food and debris from dishes and utensils. Hot water and dish soap work together to sterilize the dishes and a drying cycle leaves dishes clean and dry and ready to be put away. All dishwashers generally operate in this manner, regardless of model or brand, so the best way to judge the quality of a machine is by its noise level - cheaper dishwashers are generally noisier than more expensive models.
Over the years, as dishwashers became more popular and prices went down, they became a fixture in many American homes. Nowadays, prices vary from $200 to $300. Also, most models are now mounted under cupboards, however some can be installed on kitchen countertops next to the sink. Still others come with a full encasing and are mobile for kitchens that don't have the proper space for a built-in machine. Mobile dishwashers work the same as built-ins, but having to move them over to the sink for connection every time you wish to do a load can be a bit of an inconvenience.
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