As I researched inventions of the 1920’s, I learned that before hair dryers were invented, women used the exhaust end of the vacuum cleaner to dry their hair. Hair dryers gave them another option.
Check out this radio ad for a hair dryer in the 1920’s.
Here are a couple of the out-takes:
“Ladies, tired of drying your hair with the same old vacuum cleaner?”
This proves the point. Women used vacuum cleaners as hairdryers.
“With a speedy motor that will dry your hair in as little as 25 minutes”
My hair air dries in less than 25 minutes.
“Thanks to an extra-long extension cord, you can move around while primping your locks."
I can’t even imagine doing household chores while I dry my hair. They suggest cooking and caring for children.
For the sake of this blog, I considered drying my hair with the vacuum cleaner. It wouldn’t work well with the upright vacuum. Maybe the shop vac. The last thing I used it for was cleaning the mold out of the outdoor fountain.
Never mind! I’m not that devoted to providing interesting content.
Instead, I found a YouTube video. The girl in this one appears to be a model reenacting the time her hair dryer broke and her mother told her to use a vacuum cleaner.
I don’t think she vacuumed mold out of a fountain first. Her vacuum looks brand new.
I also saw videos of people drying their hair buy pulling it into the vacuum hose. Again, gross. There is a vacuum product designed specifically for hair called RevAir that claims to straighten hair while it dries.
I looked a little further into the history of hair dryers. It isn’t surprising that they were invented in the 1920s. Electricity and small appliances were widely available. There were a few hair dryers before electricity. In 1890 French stylist Alexander Godefroy invented a large, seated dryer which was a bonnet that attached to the chimney pipe of a gas stove. It included an escape valve for steam so women’s heads wouldn’t cook, which is terrifying.
There is a whole history of hair dryers that make people look like space aliens and helmet heads.
People are creative. Just like they used vacuum cleaners to dry hair, they also use hand held hair dryers to do other things.
Suggestions from some websites include,
Cleaning candle wax
Blowing up air mattresses
Removing Band-Aids from your skin
Blasting wrinkles out of clothing
Removing vinyl lettering on shirts bought at thrift stores.
(Actually, this is a great idea)
Here is a link to a smore making video.
Again, gross. Although, I suppose the hair dryer is cleaner than the shop vac. It just goes to show how creative people can be. If there’s a way to misuse a product, we can find it. Then inventors grab a hold of the idea and refine it, and voila, a new product is born. What started as a vacuum cleaner becomes a smore maker. Imagine the infomercials.