first-washer.jpgLet’s face it, laundry isn’t a whole lot of fun. It’s certainly not how I like to spend my evenings, I can tell you that much. I mean, there are just so many steps! You’ve got to sort your clothes, lug them to the machine, put them in, press a button, wait … take them out, put them in another machine, press another button, and then wait some more before you take them out and fold them. It’s excruciating. It’s also pretty sad that I’m not alone in my disdain for laundry, especially when you consider the fact that electric washers and dryers as we know them today, like those from consumer appliance giant Frigidaire, have only been around for about 100 years.

A brief history of Frigidaire

In 1916 in Fort Wayne Indiana, engineer Alfred Mellowes and a group of investors founded the Guardian Refrigeration Company, which produced the first self-contained refrigerator – a design Mellowes developed in his washhouse the previous year. The problem was that as in-demand as they were, each refrigerator took up to two weeks to make. In fact, it is estimated that only 40 machines were built over a two-year period, so the company was soon in serious financial trouble.

However, in 1918 General Motors stepped in and bought the company, renaming it Frigidaire and moving operations to a plant in Detroit where they could capitalize on their extensive knowledge of manufacturing to streamline the production of refrigerators. Fast-forward only 11 years to 1929: Frigidaire’s business is booming; they’ve started producing other cooling products, such as ice cream makers and soda fountain machines; and they have manufactured their one-millionth refrigerator. At this point in time, the brand was so well known that most consumers called refrigerators, regardless of brand, a “Frigidaire.” Frigidaire is also said to be the origin of the term “fridge.”

[As an aside, GM owned Frigidaire until 1979 at which point it was sold to the White Sewing Machine Company, and then to Electrolux, its current parent, in 1986.]

Frigidaire and the electric washing machine


The first mass-marketed electric washing machine was introduced in 1908. But it was between the early 1920’s and late 1930’s that the automatic clothes-washing-machine business gained an incredible amount of momentum. Eager to innovate, Frigidaire engineer Kenneth Sisson designed the Frigidaire automatic washer with the Unimatic mechanism in the late 1930’s. The Unimatic was unique in that its agitator pulsed up and down as opposed to traditional oscillating types. However production was halted during WWII so Frigidaire could contribute to the war effort by building Browning .50 caliber machine guns, aircraft parts and other military items. In 1947, when production resumed, Frigidaire added a laundry product line to its roster.

Frigidaire electric washing machines today

frigidaire.jpgSince the Unimatic was introduced to the masses almost 70 years ago, Frigidaire has come a long way. Now, there is a washer and dryer to suit every laundry need. Front load, top load, stacked. Stainless steel, white. High efficiency, gentle wash. You name it, and Frigidaire has it.

Right now, two models are even available on – the Frigidaire 2.95 Cu. Ft. Top Load Washer and 5.5 Cu. Ft. Dryer, and the Frigidaire 3.3 Cu. Ft. Top Load Washer and 5.5 Cu. Ft. Dryer.

Both are Energy Star-rated free-standing stackable “laundry centres” that are compact and ideal for smaller spaces where the idea of a room dedicated to laundry is about as far fetched as the idea of real estate prices coming down in Vancouver. Both feature a top load washer and a front load dryer, the difference being the Frigidaire 3.3 Cu. Ft. Washer has a larger capacity so can accommodate bigger loads and cut down on the time you spend doing laundry.

These Frigidaire washers also feature eight wash cycles, so you can customize your wash based on your needs – delicate, normal, heavy, presoak, rinse & spin, casual & bedding – and flexible load options, which allow you to select the appropriate water level and temperature for your laundry.

Equally impressive are the Frigidaire dryers, which feature Balance Dry System 4-way venting that evenly and efficiently distributes air to avoid hot spots that can actually damage your clothes.

Frigidaire has a long history in the consumer appliance market place and shows no signs of going anywhere any time soon. And now, I’m off to do laundry.

Check out the wide selection of laundry appliances and accessories carried by Best Buy here.


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Stacey McGregor
Stacey McGregor is a marketing and communications professional based in Vancouver, BC. She has a passion for the written word, loves learning about new technology and gadgets, and enjoys sharing what she learns through Best Buy's Plug In blog.