Have you heard of the electric sink? You may have one in your home and not even realize it.

Introduced in 1926, the Kohler Electric Sink was one of the world’s first motor-powered dishwashers, long before dishwashers became commonplace in American homes.

A company publication enthused:


It must be a rather dull imagination that fails to sense the dramatic significance of that simple statement. The Electric Sink!  The most stubbornly defended fortress of household drudgery taken at last!

Surprisingly, the technology behind the sink is not far off from the modern-day dishwasher. The product booklet explains:

You arrange the dishes in the basket, the silver in the tray.  You put in a little soap, perhaps, and a few inches of hot water.

You lower the cover and touch the button to start the motor.

From hundreds of perforations in the spray tower, spurt stinging jets of hot water, washing clean every plate – top and bottom; every cup – inside and outside; between the tines of every fork.

Two minutes…and done!  You stop the motor, drain the water, raise the cover, and use the handy rinsing spray.  If the water is really hot you will not have to wipe the dishes.”

Voila! The future of dishwashing, all the way back to 1926. Unfortunately, the Electric Sink turned out to be a great idea whose time had not yet come. Sales never met expectations, and the product was discontinued in the 1930’s.

Still, the idea remains, and these old ads are as fun to look at as they are informative.