History of the tumble dryer

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We save hours every week, thanks to tumble dryers. Often taken for granted, the history of the tumble dryer is a story related to advancing technology and its powerful effects on society. For many of our grandparents and great-grandparents, tumble dryers were a luxury that many did not indulge in until the mid 1930s.

Over a 200-year period, dryers were continually improved and perfected. New features were invented every 10 to 15 years, each adding a new level of time-saving assistance for the consumer.


Historically, clothing was sun-dried. After spending the time and energy it required to use a washboard, clean clothing would be placed on a clothes line or a hard surface and left to dry. The sun and air dried the clothes after a few hours of sitting out. Time consuming and labour intensive, washing and drying clothes was usually and all day event.


Pochons, a French Inventor, created the ventilator in 1799. It was the prototype for the first tumble dryer. The ventilator was a metal drum with holes. Clothing was placed inside the drum and it was cranked by hand, over an open fire. While Pochon's idea was creative, it often led to clothing getting sooty and smoke -filled. Sometimes clothes even caught on fire in the ventilator. According to Washing machine Wizard, the foundational design of the original ventilator is still the design used today in new dryer construction. A metal drum with holes or vents is the foundation of every dryer.


In 1892, George Sampson, and American inventor, created a patent for the first named "clothes dryer." The machine was a significant improvement on Pochon's ventilator. Almost 100 years later, Sampson was able to come up with a metal drum with a rack that held the clothes away from the heat source. Sampson's dryer was heated in a stove, rather then over an open fire, making his model was more efficient, and safer to use.

Early 1900s

As early as 1915, consumers could by a tumble dryer for their home. However, the prices were astronomical and most families could not afford the luxury of a clothes dryer in the early 1900s. In 1938, an American company capitalised on the improved version of the clothes dryer; invented by J. Ross Moore. The Hamilton Manufacturing Company was able to sell automatic tumble dryers at a much lower price. The model, called "June Day," was made in electric and gas models. In the 1940s tumble dryer sales skyrocketed, according to Washing Machine Wizard. More brands came out and competition drove the price for tumble dryers down even lower.

Post-War Dryers

After WWII ended, the baby boomer generation benefited from improved tumble dryer models. In 1946, many brands added timers, temperature controls, simple exhausts and a cool cycle. In the late 1950s larger dryers emerged and a dryness sensor was invented. The sensor was able to determine when the clothes were dry, automatically shutting off the dryer at the correct time. The dryness sensor was a time and money-saver for many consumers.

1960s to 1980s

1965 brought with it one of the favourite cycles for consumers. According to Washing Machine Wizard, the permanent press cycle became available that year. In 1974 a microelectronic controller feature was added to tumble dryers. Improving on the dryness sensor, this controller was created to control all aspects of a drying cycle; including dryness and length of time. Just when it seemed the public would be satisfied for a while, a new feature came out for dryers. In 1983, delayed start timers allowed for people to set their dryers to start at a certain time of day. This helped people to better monitor their energy use.

21st Century

In the 21st century tumble dryers have continually been perfected. Today's dryers point to the "green" and energy-efficient obsession of our culture. Since most tumble dryers are now energy-efficient, not only will consumers save money, but our natural resources will be held in greater reserve. Hydromate Technologies offers a Hydronic Dryer that utilises hydronic power to dry clothes. Similar to any enhanced home appliance, new dryers come with LCD touch screens, rather than turn know controls. They can be preset so that one button controls all aspects of the drying cycle, including a delayed start time. Newer dryer models even have noise reduction features, and suspension systems that help minimise shaking during the spin cycle.