Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Dylan. Dylan Wonders, “How does a dishwasher work?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Dylan!

Do you help with the chores in your home? Maybe you clean your bedroom or dust the shelves. You might even get to help fold laundry or sweep the floor. Or perhaps your job is to do the dishes. If so, you may get help from one handy invention. What are we talking about? The dishwasher, of course!

Of course, not all homes have a dishwasher. If yours does, you’re lucky! Many people still wash their dishes by hand, just like everyone did before 1886. That year, Josephine Cochran invented the first dishwasher. Two years later, she applied for and received a patent for her creation.

Cochran’s dishwasher didn’t use electricity. Instead, it operated using a pump controlled by a handle at the front of the device. Modern dishwashers have come a long way since this early model. Have you ever WONDERed just how these machines work?

After a person loads the dishwasher and pushes “Start,” the wash cycle begins. You might expect the machine to start by filling with water, but most actually begin by draining. This gets rid of any leftover water remaining from the last cycle.

Once the dishwasher is fully drained, fresh water flows in through the machine’s intake valve. The water pools in a basin at the bottom of the dishwasher. In most models, a heating element is also present in the basin. This heats the water to between 140 and 160 °F.

Next, a pump forces the water into two spray arms, forcing them to spin. The detergent compartment opens, adding soap to the dishes. The spinning arms spray water onto the items in the machine, washing them with help from the detergent.

Dishwashers also have a timer that tells the machine when to move to the next step in the washing process. When the timer says it’s time to rinse, the soapy water drains to the basin. There, the pump pushes it out of the machine. Next, more clean water enters through the intake valve. This water is pumped through the spray arms to rinse the dishes.

Once the rinse water drains, it’s time for the dishes to dry. Different models accomplish this in different ways. Some use the heating element to help dishes dry faster. Others allow dishes to dry on their own. Some people opt for the second option to save energy.

Finally, the clean dishes are ready to be put away. They’ll be ready for your next family meal. Then, the cycle will start all over again! 

Have you ever used a dishwasher? If so, you know just how convenient these machines can be. What future inventions can you dream up to further simplify household chores?

Standards: CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.W.9, CCRA.W.10, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.SL.1, NCAS.A.1, NCAS.A.2, NCAS.A.3

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