Online users are searching for answers about old wooden items that left clothing at the mercy of the wind.


Long before technology sent individual socks into a swirling limbo, people were more resourceful, crafting tools to efficiently tackle even the most demanding household chores.

One such tool is this wooden peg, which over the years evolved into a two-piece pin used to secure items on a line.

This was a significant improvement over the earlier model, which left socks and other clothing items at the mercy of the wind, « a serious nuisance for laundresses. »

Read on to learn more about this wooden tool!

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Recently, an online user came across small wooden pegs with two legs and asked for help identifying the objects on social media.

The Facebook post attracted a generation of nostalgic baby boomers who provided the answer: « Old clothespins. We used them to hang clean wet clothes outside on the line to dry, in the sun and fresh air! »

A wooden clothespin, also simply known as a clothespin, is a traditional household tool used to hang wet laundry on a clothesline for drying.

Nowadays, the clips typically consist of two wooden parts joined at one end and equipped with a spring tension mechanism that provides the necessary grip to hold the clothing.

The history of wooden clothespins can be traced back to ancient times when people used various methods to secure their laundry while drying.

The earliest carved clothespins date back to antiquity and were quite different from the wooden clothespins familiar to us today. These early clothespins were typically handmade from natural materials such as wood, bone, or even stone and often displayed intricate patterns or motifs.

The modern wooden clothespin, as we know it today, emerged in the 19th century in response to the growing need for a convenient and effective tool for hanging laundry.

The earliest versions of the clothespins we know today were made from solid wood, often maple or birch, and had a simple design with two wooden parts connected by a small spring or metal wire.

‘Evil for laundresses’ and men

The modern design we know today traces back to a patent for a clothespin by David M. Smith of Vermont in 1853.

According to his patent dated October 25, 1853, the updated clothespins are « connected together by a wire, » allowing the two longer legs to « be brought together and the shorter ones separated simultaneously. »

The two wooden parts are shaped to form a clamp when squeezed together, allowing the clothespin to securely hold garments without causing damage.

The spring tension mechanism ensures that the clothespin remains closed during use and provides reliable grip on the laundry even in windy weather.

Smith explains in the patent: « Another advantage, and a very important one, possessed by my improved clothes-pin over the ordinary pin, is, that it cannot be detached from the clothes by the wind, as the common pin can, which is a serious evil to laundresses. »

Evolving clips

With industrialization in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the manufacturing process for wooden clothespins became more mechanized. Wooden clothespin factories emerged, producing large quantities of standardized clothespins at a faster pace and lower cost.

This made wooden clothespins accessible to a broader range of households and contributed to their widespread use as laundry tools.

Throughout the 20th century, wooden clothespins remained a staple in households worldwide despite the introduction of alternative materials such as plastic.

Their simplicity, durability, and affordability made them a preferred choice for hanging laundry, especially for those without access to modern drying technologies.

Today, wooden clothespins continue to be produced and used in households worldwide, either for crafts or for drying laundry, and are appreciated for their nostalgic appeal and eco-friendly attributes.

While plastic clothespins are becoming more prevalent in some regions due to their lower cost and mass production, wooden clothespins remain a symbol of traditional laundry care and sustainable living.

What’s worse, losing socks to the wind or in a dryer? Please let us know what you think of this story, and then share it with your friends to hear what others have to say!

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