world's first washing machine

The world’s first electric washing machine is often credited to the U.S. company Thor, which introduced an electric-powered washing machine in 1910. The Thor washing machine was invented by Alva J. Fisher and marketed by the Hurley Machine Company. It was an important milestone in the history of washing machines as it eliminated the need for hand cranking or manual labor to agitate the clothes. Instead, it used an electric motor to drive the agitator and simplify the washing process.

Washing Machine Revolution: From Hand-Cranking to Electric Power

In today’s modern world, where washing machines have become an essential household appliance, it’s intriguing to delve into their origins. As we turn our attention back in time, we discover that the advent of electric washing machines revolutionized the way people laundered their clothes. This article aims to explore the history and shed light on which invention can be credited as the world’s first electric washing machine.

The Inventor: Alva J. Fisher

The credit for inventing the world’s first electric washing machine goes to Alva J. Fisher, an engineer and entrepreneur. Fisher’s inventiveness led him to obtain a patent for the electric washing machine in the United States in 1910. His creation, known as the “Thor“, was a significant milestone in laundry technology.

Thor - World's First Washing Machine
Thor – World’s First Washing Machine

The Thor: A Revolutionary Invention

The Thor electric washing machine was nothing short of a breakthrough for its time. It was designed as a cylindrical, metal drum enclosed within a wooden cabinet. By utilizing an electric motor, the Thor eliminated the need for manual labor in the laundry process. Its innovative design introduced a new era of convenience and efficiency for households worldwide.

Fisher's Washing Machine Patent
Fisher’s Washing Machine Patent

Features and Functionality

The Thor electric washing machine incorporated various features that were uncommon at the time. These included an electric motor, a rotating drum, and a system for water drainage. Users fed clothes into the drum, which then rotated to agitate and cleanse the garments. The Thor demonstrated the power of electricity as a driving force behind the functioning of washing machines.

Thor washing machine Pengrove Power and Implement Museum, Penngrove, CA, July 9, 2011
Thor washing machine Pengrove Power and Implement Museum, Penngrove, CA, July 9, 2011

Impact on Society

The introduction of electric washing machines revolutionized the way laundry was done. Prior to electricity-powered machines, people manually scrubbed clothes on washboards or relied on the services of commercial laundries. The Thor, being the first of its kind, provided a more efficient and convenient solution for households. It marked a significant shift in the history of laundry, ultimately paving the way for the advanced washing machines we use today.

The evolution of the electric washing machine

Electric washing machines have evolved significantly since the Thor was first introduced. Modern washing machines are more efficient and have more features, such as multiple wash cycles, temperature settings, and self-cleaning capabilities.

Some of the latest innovations in electric washing machines include:

  • Front-load washing machines: Front-load washing machines are more water-efficient than top-load washing machines. They also tend to be gentler on clothes.
  • High-efficiency (HE) washing machines: HE washing machines use less water and energy than traditional washing machines. They also require special HE detergent.
  • Smart washing machines: Smart washing machines can be connected to the internet and controlled remotely. They can also be programmed to start and finish washing cycles at specific times.


The world’s first electric washing machine is attributed to Alva J. Fisher’s invention, the Thor, patented in 1910. This revolutionary device, powered by electricity, marked a turning point in the history of laundry technology. The Thor eliminated the need for arduous manual labor and laid the groundwork for the development of advanced and automated washing machines that we rely on today. Fisher’s creation paved the way for a cleaner, more convenient, and time-saving laundry experience for households worldwide, leaving an indelible impact on our everyday lives.

Featured Image Credit – Image by Freepik

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