Money Washing Machine
by Franklin Noll on 08/01/20
Cash recycling meant something
very different in the early 20th century.
Until the 1920s, the US Treasury and the Federal Reserve did not return used
currency back into circulation. All notes returning to the Treasury, regardless
of condition, were destroyed either by burning or through maceration (turning
On exception was a short-lived operation of cleaning used currency in a special
washing machine (see image) and then re-issuing it. The machines were invented by the Treasury and
installed in various offices. Notes were
washed, had sizing applied, and were dried at the rate of 35,000 notes a day
This process ran from around 1910 until 1916. The all-cotton banknotes produced during World War I did not wash well, ending the operation.