The washing machine is a fairly new invention. However, people had to deal with cleaning clothes and linen a long before. Some methods of washing was really interesting. Some others are still in use in certain countries.
For example – very old way of washing clothes in the river is still widely practiced in less-developed parts of the world. In fact, it was popular even in the rich countries until the late 18th century. It had also the social dimension - common, public laundry was a great opportunity for women to meet and talk. This simple method involved just letting the water run through the clothing, washing away the stains and bad smells.
However, it wasn't very efficient way to clean your stuff. It was lengthy and tiring. The water was cold, so the dirt removal was partial only. The first great improvement of this method was the invention of the scrub board in 1797. There were some other simple thing that was in common use for centuries - washing bats and washtubs. They were used for moving cloth around and beating the dirt out of it. Doing this with a piece of wood was called "possing". Squarish washing bats could double up as a scrub board. Simple wooden boards was taken to the riverside and rocks at the edge of the water have been used as scrubbing surfaces.
The nineteenth century was a time of a great industrial revolution. People commonly used warm water, laundry soap and starch. By the 18th century soap was fairly widespread, but more often kept for finer clothing and for tackling stains only. The scrub boards were more and more improved. Finally, there was the completely new invention - hand-operated rotary washing machine – a kind of very early washing machine.
In 1908, so-called great Mighty Thor became the first electric-powered washing machine introduced by the Hurly Machine Company of Chicago. Washing act becomes truly effortless. In fact, it is as difficoult as putting the garments inside and pressing few buttons, then getting it out and hanging to dry. Then these washing machine were modernized with almost every year. Manufacturers outdo each other in ever new ideas and improvements. Today we have washing machines with dryers, washing machines with automatic programmer, or special washing machine for dry cleaning – laundering stuff with non-water solvent, which was also invented in the early 19th century.