With seven kids and a rancher husband, having two washing machines is incredibly helpful. What is not incredibly helpful is when they both break down within days of each other. I have spent the last week thinking about nothing but washing machines, so it’s no surprise that today’s post is all about washers in the 1940s.
Of course, new appliances were hard to come by when factories switched to producing war goods, but that didn’t stop home front housewives from dreaming about what their post-war kitchens and laundry areas would look like. In fact, advertisers used images of futuristic post-war kitchen technology to encourage people to buy war bonds to fund their dream kitchens after the war. Tantalizing ads of electric dishwashers and efficient refrigerators were published during the war years, enticing women to plan to spend their money on the new items as soon as factories could begin to crank them out after the war. This is an example from the back cover of the December 1942 issue of Better Homes and Gardens. (Note that this was a kitchen for a $6000 home. If only we could buy a $6000 home today! I put this in an inflation calculator and a $6000 home in 1942 would cost $95,374 in 2020. A $6000 home in 1946 would cost $79,723.)
I’ve gathered several washing machine ads, one from 1942 and many from 1945, to show you what washers home front housewives were both using and dreaming of during the war years.
Better Homes and Gardens, December 1942.
This Bendix Automatic Home Laundry is found in many home front housewives homes.
Good Housekeeping, September 1945.
As 1945 went on, more and more ads for things like refrigerators, ovens, and other appliances appeared. In September, I found two ads for washing machines. In October there were three. By November, there were six–five ads and one article.
Note that both the Easy Washing Machine and the Thor Automagic Washer wash and damp-dry clothing. The Thor Automagic Washer also washes dishes, including pots and pans.
Good Housekeeping, October 1945.
This Westinghouse ad tells home front housewives that the washer isn’t available now, but they will start making them as soon as possible. This is just a tempting peek at what’s to come.
Lovell washing machines ads look more like an advice column than an advertisement and tout the machine’s labor-saving capabilities.
The Bendix machines allow home front housewives to leave the house while the machine is running due to the fact that it automatically empties, cleans, and shuts itself off.
Good Housekeeping, November 1945.
The first two images are from an article about “best-planned kitchens” that include convenient work areas for both food prep and laundry chores.
This Westinghouse ad echoes the idea of combining the kitchen and laundry to help save time and energy.
Here’s another Thor Automagic Washer ad. They wash your clothes and your dishes with just a quick switch of the tubs.
Here is a second Easy Machine advertisement showcasing its convenient and fast washing, damp-drying, and ironing features.
The Bendix machine damp-dries clothing so they are ready for the dryer or the clothesline. Notice that the ad encourages the home front housewife to be put on the “first to be served” list for quick post-war service.
Post-war appliances are also mentioned in this Lovell ad. Saving money on a Lovell machine will allow you to purchase more of the “wonderful, labor-saving” post-war appliances.
I wish you a happy week and appliances that don’t break down. See you soon.
Hi, I just discovered your blog & really enjoy reading about this time period. I’m looking forward to reading through your posts. I’m wondering if there is an easy way to get back to the beginning of this blog? I’m sure I’ll be able to read a lot of old posts but reading from the beginning would be great. Thanks
Thank you! I’m happy you’re here! I went to see if there was an easier way than just scrolling down to the beginning and I couldn’t find one. That seems frustrating to me. I’m not the most tech-savvy person, so I’m going to see if I can find out another way, or if I can add something to make that easier. I’m glad you pointed it out to me. It seems like it would be an easy to thing to do, but I’m not sure. If I find something, I’ll let you know.
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