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Maytag Washers

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Time Frame: 1907-2006

The Maytag company produced clothes washers. The new machines eased the drudgery of wash day for women on the farms and in towns.
Iowa Heritage Industrial Heritage
©1979
Iowa Public Television

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Transcript

Fred L. Maytag, the company’s founder, grew up with the hard work of farm life and knew the drudgery that the farm wife faced as well as the farmer.

He was aware of the need for some better way of washing clothes. Because rubbing them on the rub-board was quite difficult. And also the farm equipment business was ceased also, so he had it in mind that the washing machine would sort of help the manufacturing operations at the same time give the housewife better means of washing clothes. So he developed the washing machine about 1907. As the advertising would show they had a boy, the boy was attached to the handle to run the washer. It was operated by hand.

After that first washer, called the “Pastime,” came the “Hired Girl.” Such wash day miracles were slowly catching on, but most farm wives had to be convinced they needed such a convenience.

Back at that time, they hauled them around in wagons and the salesman would contact the farm wife and ask to make a date whereby he could come and do her washing for her. And if he could convince her that this thing would wash clothes then she might help him sell some neighbor—see. Well he would tell her to have her boiled hot water prepared at the time he would arrive. So he would arrive and he’d set up his washing machine and he and this lady would wash the clothes.

The Maytag Company achieved its greatest fame, when in 1922, it introduced its “Gyrafoam Washer.”

The tub was designed for the purpose of giving better water action. Well that added to the idea of putting an agitator in the bottom and it would oscillate and create water currents. So that movement of the agitator and the square aluminum tube—that had a cone-shaped bottom—it created water currents, which in effect caused the clothing to roll within the washer and at the same time force the water through the clothes.

By moving the agitator from the lid to the bottom of the washer, Maytag revolutionized the industry.

 


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