The Evolution of Washing Technology

The ES-3300 Esporta® Wash System is more than just a washing machine...it represents one of the most significant breakthroughs in cleaning technology in the last seventy-six years

The Process of Cleaning

The traditional laundering process is designed to perform three basic functions:

  1. removal of soil
  2. suspension of soil
  3. discharge of the soil from the machine to the drain.

The traditional washing process is affected by the following factors:


Compliments of ZEP

Compliments of ZEP

The TACT Factors

TIME: The Length of cycle : If the cycle is too short, the linen will not be cleaned. If the cycle is too long, there will be unnecessary wear and tear and the clothes may actually become dirtier as a result of redeposition of soil.

TEMPERATURE: Temperature of water: If the temperature of water is too high, it is likely to cause shrinkage and otherwise damage the linen. If the temperature is inadequate, the chemicals will not work effectively.

CHEMICALS: Type and amount of detergent and when it will be dispensed in the wash cycle. This is also a crucial factor that affects the quality of wash. The type of detergent used is dependent on the nature of the fabric being washed. Too little detergent will result in an incomplete cleaning process.  Too much detergent will leave a residue after the rinse cycle is complete. It is important that the laundry agent is introduced into the wash cycle at the appropriate time if it is to have the required action. Laundry detergents are generally highly alkaline (high pH) which may affect colorfastness and wash quality.

AGITATION: Mechanical action refers to the centrifugal action brought about by the movement of the drum that causes friction between the linen articles and is radically affected by overloading or under-loading as well as the speed of the drum.  This mechanical action is necessary to dislodge the soils which are then electrostatically attracted to the foams which then get carried away down the drain. This friction is responsible for the wear and tear on the fabrics.

The Technological Breakthrough - Paradigm Shifting Technology

The Esporta Wash System is a technological breakthrough in washing technology.

  1. The Esporta Wash System utilizes hydraulic action to remove both organic and inorganic contaminants in its cleaning process.  Independent laboratory reports show that this system is five times more effective than traditional front load machines and capable of obtaining 99% efficacy.  The use of hydraulic pressure also removes any issues of wear and tear on the fabrics.
  2. The items are held stationary in each compartment with the water and detergents being forced through the item thus providing a means to clean a wide range of textiles, sports equipment, leathers, cushions and other bulky soft contents that could not be machine cleaned prior to this technology.
  3. The four stage detergent process results in a wash medium that is pH neutral.  A neutral pH washing environment minimizes the impact on colorfastness, wear life, fabric strength and brightness retention.
  4. Wash water temperatures are typically at room temperature, virtually eliminating any fabric shrinkage and damage.

Let's trace out the evolution of washing technology.

Sticks and Stones

Ancient peoples cleaned their clothes by pounding them on rocks or rubbing them with abrasive sands; and washing the dirt away in local streams. Evidence of ancient washing soap was found at Sapo Hill in Rome, where the ashes containing the fat of sacrificial animals was used as a soap.

Sticks and Stones.jpg
Scrub Board.jpeg

Scrub Board

The first example of man-made technology being used to assist in the washing of clothes is seen in the creation of the scrub board in 1797, although over a century earlier a patent application covering a washing and wringing machine had been filed, but never built.

The Rotary Drum

The concept of using a rotating drum to clean dirty laundry was patented by an English inventor in 1782. 

James King, an America,  patented the first washing machine to use a drum in 1851.  The drum made King's machine resemble a modern machine, albeit it was still hand powered.

Later, in 1858, Hamilton Smith patented the rotary washing machine.

Domestic Washing Machine

In 1874 William Blackstone of Indiana built a birthday present for his wife. It was a washing machine intended for domestic use which removed and washed away dirt from clothes.  The Blackstone washing machine is often cited as the first washer designed for home use.

The first drum washing machine was invented in 1851 by James King.  It had a drum design, and was hand powered.

The first drum washing machine was invented in 1851 by James King.  It had a drum design, and was hand powered.

Rotary Squeeze Scrubber.jpg

The Rotary Squeeze Scrubber

The rotary squeeze scrubber represented the next step in the evolution of washing, mechanically removing water from the textiles.  It also introduced a mechanism that resulted in crushed fingers and limbs as they were caught up in the rollers in the process of squeezing out the water in the fabric.

This is the first converged washing machine, combining a washing device and a wringing device.

From Manual to Electric

The arrival of electric power meant that hand-operated washing devices could be augmented with motors. There is some debate as to who can lay claim to being the official inventor of the electric washing machine, but it is widely believed to be attributable to Louis Goldenberg.

However, a washing machine called the Thor, which was invented by Alva J. Fisher and manufactured by the Hurley Machine Company in 1908, is often cited as the first drum-based electric washing machine.  The Thor was a drum type washing machine with a galvanized tub and an electric motor. A patent for this machine was issued on August 9th 1910.

Thor 1910    Courtesy of Lee Maxwell

Thor 1910    Courtesy of Lee Maxwell

Hand Gentleness, Machine Speed Agitator Courtesy of Lee Maxwell

Hand Gentleness, Machine Speed Agitator
Courtesy of Lee Maxwell

The Agitator

Electric powered washing devices underwent several design changes in order to obtain the mechanical action similar to the "scrub board" motion required to break the bond between the soil and the textiles.  Various paddle type and corrugated rotors were manufactured in the early 1900's in an attempt to increase the wash effectiveness without damaging the linens. Today's paddle type agitator in top loaders and corrugated drum style in front loaders are very similar to the designs of the 1920's.

The Move to Manufacturing, Maytag and  Whirlpool

By the 1920s, large numbers of washing machines were being manufactured in the developed world, but economic pressures meant that this luxury item did not continue to see the same level of adoption during the 1930s. Early machines were also fitted manually and temporarily to water supplies, often via a rubber hose attached to a standard kitchen tap, with plumbed-in machines only becoming commonplace at a later stage.

The Maytag Corporation began in 1893 when F.L. Maytag began manufacturing farm implements in Newton, Iowa. Business was slow in winter, so to add to his line of products he introduced a wooden-tub washing machine in 1907. Maytag soon devoted himself full-time to the washing machine business.

The Whirlpool Corporation started in 1911 as the Upton Machine Co., founded in St. Joseph, Michigan, to produce electric motor-driven wringer washers.

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Automating The Washing Machine, Front Loaders and the Development of Spin Extraction

Bendix introduced the first automatic washing machine in 1937.  In appearance and mechanical detail this first machine is not unlike the front loading automatic washers produced today. Mechanical timers were used to sequence the washing and extraction process.  Extracting the water by using the centrifugal force created by spinning the drum provided a much safer method of water removal compared to the wringer-type system, and by 1953, automated washing machine sales exceeded the wringer-type washer sales.

Spin extractor speeds have increased over the years, with early models spinning at less than 500 rpm to today's extract speed of over 1800 rpm.  In fact, because the early Bendix lacked any drum suspension it had to be anchored to the floor to prevent "walking". Today's industrial washer/extractors also have to be anchored to the floor for that same reason.  In order to control the spin speed, manufacturers of early electric machines had to rely on relatively primitive combinations of mechanical switches and resistors to implement the required controls. 

Bendix also introduced an improved front loading automatic model called the Bendix Deluxe in 1947 which is almost identical to the front loader washers of today.

1970's and the Advent of Microcomputer Control Systems

Advances in electronics in the 1970's allowed for improved motor control and enabled the production of machines of greater precision and durability.  By the 1990's most top and front loader machines incorporated microcomputers to control all facets of the wash process including wash times, extract speeds and detergent dispensing.

Innovations in the New Millennium

Although advances have been made in the operation and control of the washing machines, the basic washing technology in use today has not changed from the Bendix Washing Machine of 1937.  This traditional washing technology involves the use of either impellers or drum agitators that tumble or churn the textiles in order to dislodge the soils.  Whether the design is a top loader or front loader, mechanical energy is used to create the cleaning. The requirement to tumble the clothes limits what can be put into the machine.  The ability to kill or remove bacteria is dependent upon the effectiveness of the detergents and bleaches and typically requires water temperatures exceeding 150 degrees F.

A Completely New Cleaning Technology

In 1999, Margie and Randy Rhode developed a completely new method of washing; one that deployed hydraulic action to force water and detergents through the fabrics to effectively remove all of the organic and inorganic contaminants.  The items were held stationary in each compartment.  Water and detergents were forced through the items thus providing a means to clean a wide range of textiles, sports equipment, leathers, cushions and other bulky soft contents that could NOT be machine cleaned prior to this technology.  The concept was issued a number of patents in 1999 and the first production model was introduced in 2001.  The current model is the Esporta ES-3300 Wash System.

In the last ten years numerous independent laboratory reports have verified the following:

  1. Organic and inorganic contaminant removal exceeding 99%.
  2. Negligible deterioration in the physical properties (colorfastness, wear life, fabric strength and brightness retention)  of the fabrics over repeated washes.
  3. Cleaning efficiencies five times more effective than traditional top loading or front loading washing machines.
  4. Negligible fabric shrinkage.
  5. Alternative, if not a preferred method of cleaning to dry cleaning.
  6. Uses 35% less water on a per-pound basis than traditional washing machines.