The inventor Alfred Kärcher from Baden-Württemberg founded the company in 1935. Initially Kärcher specialised in the design of industrial submersible heating elements, i.e. in salt smelters which were heated with immersion heaters. After numerous experiments, a hardening furnace for alloys was produced, the so-called “Kärcher Salt-Bath Furnace”. Some 1,200 units were sold up to 1945.
Today the family-owned company, which is based in Winnenden near Stuttgart, is represented in 160 countries with 38 subsidiaries all over the world, selling commercial cleaning equipment as well as cleaning equipment for the private consumer. Kärcher involves their expertise in restorative cleaning projects of cultural monuments such as the Berlin Brandenburg Gate, Germany, and Mount Rushmore, United States.
In some countries such as Germany, United Kingdom, France, Poland, Georgia or Mexico, Kärcher is now colloquially used as synonymous with a cleaning system using high-pressure water, used to clean cars, outdoor equipment etc.
Kärcher owns the American brands of Landa, Hotsy, and Shark pressure washers, Cuda parts washers, Watermaze water treatment systems, ProChem and Windsor floor cleaning systems.
French political controversy 
French politician Nicolas Sarkozy once declared that La Courneuve, a banlieue outside of Paris where a boy was killed by a stray gunshot, would be "cleaned out with a Kärcher" (nettoyer la cité au Kärcher) — meaning all criminals and other undesirables should be removed and washed out. This comment was highly controversial, as many French associate the banlieues with immigrants, especially North Africans.
Sarkozy's use of the word led to it becoming a verb: "to Karcher" or "Karcherize". Presidential candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen told residents of Argenteuil, many of them immigrants, "If some want to Karcherize you, to exclude you, we want to help you get out of these ghettos." As a response, Kärcher France sent a letter to all of the candidates in the 2007 presidential election asking them not to use the company's name this way, and has run ads in newspapers disassociating itself from the remarks.
See also 
- Bernard, Ariane (April 19, 2007). "Name of High-Pressure Washers Maker Is Drawn Into French Politics". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
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