The Dexter Washer


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Donated to the Dexter Museum in 2012 by Lee M. Maxwell, a collector of old washing machines.

William H. George

Born in 1862, William George started out farming but worked on inventing a threshing machine tooth. He became a traveling salesman in 1890 for Gaar, Scott & Company, manufacturers of threshing machines. During the two years he worked for them, he began making thresher teeth. It soon demanded his entire attention.

In 1892 William H. George started a company to manufacture his invention of a threshing machine tooth, which he had patents for.

Threshing machines were equipped with spikes or teeth mounted on a rotating threshing-drum.




The Dexter Washer company was established in Dexter, Iowa, in 1894, during the era of hand-powered wringer washers. A modern factory building was erected in Dexter in 1903.

Dexter’s population at the time was as large it would ever be: 795 souls.

The Dexter Washer company also manufactured automatic engine couplers, adjustable belt guards, cylinder wrenches, and harrow carts in connection with the thresher tooth.



The factory was destroyed by fine in 1907. A new department had been added as W. H. George had designed several washing machines, some called “The Monarch” and “Billy Twister.” The first ones were made from cypress. Later they were made of zinc, copper, and porcelain with a variety of power options–belts, steam, gas, and electricity.


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Dexter Laundry relocated to Fairfield, Iowa, in 1908, where they still manufacture washers.

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Ad from the 1968 History of Dexter, Iowa.

Dexter Apache Holdings, Inc: Mission & History.

History of Dexter, Iowa–1968.

Past and Present of Dallas County, Iowa, Vol. 1, pages 345f.


The Dexter Museum has an undated Dexter Wringer Washer Service Manual.

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There is also a 1963 sales postcard attached to a Dexter Wringer Washer Parts List 1958 and 1959, with several diagrams.


William Henry and Olive M. (Nolte) George are buried at Dexter, as are William’s parents.



    • That washing machine has been sitting in the front of the museum, and I finally decided to learn about it. Lots more interesting than I was expecting.

  1. My grandfather had an old wringer washer and of course as a kid of five, I couldn’t resist running my finger through the rollers just to see if it would hurt – IT DID!

    • Thanks. I do “ads” for the Dexter Museum, so some of those end up getting put together on my website, which is a handy place to keep info and photos together.

  2. Very interesting! Now that I think about it, I would be very interested in visiting a museum dedicated entirely to home laundry equipment. I wonder if there is such a thing. I’ll have to check the Internet!

  3. This intrigued me as I have someone on my family tree in Kansas (a Vining) who invented some washing machines. I remember helping my mama with the laundry and how careful we had to be with that wringer.

    • I just barely remember the ringer washer. I think it may still be in the barn on the farm. My husband brought back one of the rinse tubs–it’s on our front porch with a plant in it!

  4. I remember my grandmother’s wringer washer in the 1950’s. Her hand got caught in the wringer which resulted in a visit to the hospital.

  5. I’m interested in learning more about the dexter double tub washing machine. My great grandfather with the last name of Gaines supposedly invented it.

    • This is all the information the Dexter Museum has on this machine. I don’t know where to suggest you try, unless you google your great grandfather’s name along with washing machine patents or something similar.

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