Inspirational Women

Inspirational Women – Josephine Cochrane

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This women’s history month, I wanted to start a new series about Women in History. There are so many inspirational women that achieved so much, yet so many of us have probably never even heard of them. I have been sharing quotes from alot of these amazing women on my instagram page for a few years now. This series allows me to share more information on the remarkable achievements of these women, giving us all an insight to those that have paved the way for us.

Let’s meet….

American inventor Josephine Cochrane (1839 – 1913) who came up with the idea of a mechanical dishwasher, one that would hold dishes securely in a rack while the pressure of a water sprayer cleaned them after servants chipped her heirloom dishes. But when her husband died in 1883, leaving her with substantial debt, making the dishwasher work and become profitable became a necessity.

Josephine invented the first practical dishwasher and formed the Garis-Cochran Dish-Washing Company to manufacture and market it. She designed a set of wire compartments, each created to fit plates, cups, or saucers. The compartments were placed inside a wheel that lay flat inside a copper boiler, while a motor turned the wheel, pumping hot soapy water from the bottom of the boiler. The machine was showcased in the World Columbian Exposition of 1893, helping to establish a market for the dishwasher in hotels and large restaurants.


She received the patent in 1886 and began marketing her dishwasher to hotels. “You cannot imagine what it was like in those days… for a woman to cross a hotel lobby alone,” she told one reporter. “I had never been anywhere without my husband or father, the lobby seemed a mile wide. I thought I should faint at every step, but I didn’t, and I got an $800 order as my reward.”

Since most homes’ hot water heaters could not supply the amount of hot water the dishwasher required, the machine’s large size limited the company’s sales. It was not until the 1950s that increased availability of hot water in the home, effective dishwashing detergent, and a change in attitudes toward housework made dishwashers popular with the general public. The Garis-Cochran Manufacturing Company became part of KitchenAid®, and in 1949, the first KitchenAid dishwasher based on Cochran’s design was introduced to the public.

Five Facts about Josephine Cochrane 

  • She didn’t finish school and married William A. Cochran at the age of 19 in 1858
  • She had two children: a daughter named Katharine and a son named Hallie who died at an early age of two
  • It was her frustration when she found out that the servants had chipped the dishes (fine china) while washing them that led Cochrane to come up with the idea of a dishwashing machine
  • In 2006, she was inducted into America’s National Inventors Hall of Fame
  • As a tribute to her revolutionary invention, the government of Romania issued a stamp with her face on it in 2013

Inspirational quotes from Josephine Cochrane

“If nobody else is going to invent a dishwashing machine, I’ll do it myself.”

“They knew I knew nothing, academically, about mechanics and they insisted on having their own way with my invention until they convinced themselves my way was the better, no matter how I had arrived at it.”

“When it comes to buying something for the kitchen that costs $75 or $100, a woman begins at once to figure out all the other things she could do with the money. She hates dishwashing—what woman does not?—but she has not learned to think of her time and comfort as worth money.”

“If I knew all I know today when I began to put the dishwasher on the market,” Josephine said near the end of her life, “I never would have had the courage to start. But then, I would have missed a very wonderful experience.”

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