Before washing machines, wealthier families hired maids or brought their laundry to cleaners. Most people did laundry by hand, a time-consuming process usually tasked to women. Washing machines dramatically lowered the cost of washing clothes while increasing cleanliness.
A patent issued to Fisher on Aug. 9, 1910, for an electric washing machine. Many people claim to have made earlier versions, a not uncommon problem with successful innovations.
Alva Fisher invented the electric washing machine, “Thor.”
Maytag, founded in 1893, manufactured farm tools. They released a hand-cranked washing machine in 1905, adding a motor in 1911. Whirlpool also released an electric washing machine in 1911. Both Maytag and Whirlpool captured and shared the bulk of the washing machine market. Thor brand washing machines are still sold today.