Clothes Dryers

There are two types of mechanical aid to drying washed clothes: appliances for extracting water by pressure and appliances for producing evaporation through heat. In 1900, with the exception of very large households, the only equipment available for drying clothes was the mangle or wringer, where wet clothing was passed between heavy rollers to squeeze out water. The production of new electrical appliances for drying clothes began in the 1920s but only reached the mass market from the 1950s onward.

The first widespread improvement of the twentieth century was the fitting of powered wringers to electric washing machines. The wringer was connected to the electric motor at the base of the washing machine by a vertical driveshaft. The user still had to lift out the wet clothing and guide it through the rollers. Washing machines with wringers were the most common type of washer from just before World War I until the late 1950s.

Electric spin dryers were introduced in the 1920s but did not find an immediate market as domestic appliances, although larger models for public laundries were more commercially successful. The spin dryer is based on the principle of centrifugal force: wet clothing is placed in a perforated drum that rotates about a vertical axis, forcing the clothing against the walls and pressing out the water, which drains downward naturally or can be pumped out upward to a sink. In the late 1940s, the relaunch of the automatic washing machine with its integrated spin-drying function provided new impetus. By the mid-1950s, manufacturers had begun to exploit the domestic potential of the spin dryer both as a separate appliance and in combination with the washer. In Britain, where ownership of automatic washing machines with integral spin drying grew slowly, the first spin dryer aimed at the mass market was introduced by Creda in 1956. The spin dryer has changed little in essence except in being made lighter (by replacing steel casing with plastic) and more compact.

The drying of clothes by applying heat has evolved from the practice of placing damp clothes on racks in front of a fire or in airing cupboards near a hot water tank. Some versions of the lamp radiator type of electric room heater (circa 1905–1915) had rails at the top for hanging towels or clothes on. This was the only type of room heater that was safe for placing in direct proximity to damp clothes. Electric fans could also assist in the drying of clothes, but these were scarcer than room heaters. The next step was separate heated towel rails and drying cabinets, which appeared in the 1920s. The standard design