8 Household Items Invented by Women
It's hard to imagine what our homes would look like without these everyday items invented by women.
Inventor: Josephine Cochrane
The Home Security System
It has been said many times that necessity is the mother of invention. That was definitely the case with Marie Van Brittan Brown, who in 1966 designed the first home security system to counter high crime rates and slow response times from police in her Queens, N.Y. neighborhood.
This early prototype contained many elements still used in modern home security including peepholes, cameras, monitors, alarm buttons and two-way microphones. Brown’s design is also credited with popularizing closed-circuit televisions in security systems.
The Landlord’s Game
In 1903, game designer Elizabeth “Lizzie” Magie applied for a patent on a board game where players competed for wealth, land and industries.
Sound familiar? It should. Three decades later, Parker Brothers introduced a suspiciously similar board game called Monopoly, which designer Charles Darrow claimed was entirely his idea. While Magie did speak out at the time, it wasn’t until after her death in 1948 that she received proper credit for one of the most popular board games in history.
The Ice Cream Maker
At first, making ice cream was a such long, intensive process that the frozen concoction was mainly reserved for the upper levels of society. That all changed with Nancy Johnson and her hand-crank ice cream churn invention, which made it much simpler and more cost-effective to produce quality ice cream.
The Ironing Board
Sarah Boone was born to enslaved parents in Craven County, N.C. in 1832. After spending her youth in the pre-Civil War South, Boone earned her freedom and relocated to New Haven, Conn. through networks tied to the Underground Railroad.
A dressmaker, Boone applied for a patent for a “cheap, simple, convenient and highly effective device, particularly adapted to be used in ironing the sleeves and bodies of ladies’ garments.” Her ironing board design was a major improvement over past versions because it fit the seams of women’s clothing at the time, and was easy to flip so that each side of the garment could be ironed. It’s the basis for
The Retractable Dog Leash
Little is known about Mary A. Delaney, other than she was awarded a patent for her retractable dog leash on May 12, 1908. “The objects of the present invention are to obviate and overcome all these difficulties and annoyances due to the usual form of leash, and prevent the leash from becoming tangled as the dog runs about,” Delaney wrote in the patent application.
Clearly, she was onto something. More than a century later, retractable dog leashes are still widely sold.
The Disposable Coffee Filter
If you’re a regular coffee drinker you owe a lot to Melitta Bentz, even if you’ve never heard that name before. Bentz was a German housewife-turned-entrepreneur in the early 1900s who had an idea for a better coffee filter— one that was made from paper and, therefore, disposable. The idea quickly turned into a massively successful family business, and by the time of Bentz’s death in 1950 disposable paper coffee filters were in the mainstream.
The Electric Refrigerator
For most of human history, the only way to keep food cold was to surround it with ice. Florence Parpart had a better idea. Her proposed design for an ice-free icebox used an electrical system to circulate cold water through the appliance, delivering more even and efficient cooling. Parpart and her husband applied for a patent in 1913.