Woman Invented Dishwasher

Patent For First Practical Dish Washing Machine Issued December 28, 1886
Press Release

Brigid Quinn


Josephine Garis Cochran invented the first useful dishwasher in Shelbyville, Ill., and received patent # 355,139 on December 28, 1886.

Cochran, a wealthy woman who entertained often, wanted a machine that could wash dishes faster than her servants, and without breaking them. When she couldn't find one, she built it herself.

She measured the dishes first, then she made wire compartments, each designed to fit plates, cups, or saucers. The compartments were placed inside a wheel that lay flat within a copper boiler. A motor turned the wheel while hot soapy water squirted from the bottom of the boiler and rained down on the dishes. Her invention worked! She showed the dishwasher at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, but only restaurants and hotels showed interest in it. Cochran founded a company to manufacture her dishwashers, which eventually became KitchenAid®. It wasn't until the 1950s, however, that dishwashers started to become a standard household kitchen appliance.

Cochran's patent and the trademarks registered to KitchenAid®, as well as the more than 6 million patents issued since the first in 1790 and the 2.3 million trademarks registered since 1870, can be seen on the Department of Commerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office website at www.uspto.gov.

Last year USPTO issued 182,223 patents and registered 127,794 trademarks.