It is presumed that the first opened in in 1934. It was run by Andrew Clein. Patrons used coin-in-the-slot facilities to rent washing machines. The term "laundromat" can be found in newspapers as early as 1884 and they were widespread during the Depression. England established public wash rooms for laundry along with bath houses throughout the 19th century.
US electric washing machine sales reached 913,000 units in 1928. However, high unemployment rates in the years reduced sales; by 1932 the number of units shipped was down to about 600,000.
Electric washing machines were advertised and discussed in newspapers as early as 1904. Alva J. Fisher has been incorrectly credited with the invention of the electric washer. The US Patent Office shows at least one patent issued before Fisher's US patent number 966677 (e.g. Woodrow's US patent number 921195). The "inventor" of the electric washing machine remains unknown.
By 1940, 60% of the 25,000,000 wired homes in the United States had an electric washing machine. Many of these machines featured a power wringer, although built-in spin dryers were not uncommon.
|Wikisource has the text of the 1920 Encyclopedia Americana article Washing Machine.|