Line drying linens outside in my backyard with my little boys underfoot is hands down my most favorite “chore.” Call me crazy, but I think that there is something romantic about sheets drying in the breeze next to the garden while small kids run back and forth underneath. I dare you to disagree!
When we first installed a retractable clothesline in our backyard, I immediately began my search for the best clothespins. I needed clothespins that were sturdy enough to withstand regular use, easy to clean, easy to handle, and beautiful to look at. Below I’m sharing the best of what I found.
- Best Wooden: Heritage Clothespins Made in USA
- Best Stainless Steel: Vida Picks Stainless Steel Laundry Clips
- Best Space-Saving: 52 Clips Stainless Steel Laundry Drying Rack
- Best for Travel: Newraturner 2 Pack Portable Clothesline
Quick History of Clothespins
Clothespins have been used for centuries. The earliest known designs were hand carved from a single piece of wood. They resembled the clothespins most people reserve for “crafting” nowadays (like these).
It wasn’t until the mid-late 1800s before the first spring-loaded clothespins were patented and manufactured. Since then, many iterations of clothespins have been manufactured in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and materials.
(Source: New York Times Magazine)
Best Clothespins for Line Drying
Best Wooden: Heritage Clothespins Made in USA
The classic wooden, spring-loaded clothespin has been a laundry mainstay for centuries. This simple design is effective, strong, durable, and gentle on fabrics. It’s also nostalgic for many people who remember their mothers or grandmothers hanging laundry on the line with these types of clothespins.
With that said, not all wooden clothespins are made equally. These heritage clothespins are extremely high quality. The materials and manufacturing is all sourced and completed within the USA. The ash hardwood is sourced from southern states, the stainless steel springs are sourced from a northeast USA manufacturer, and the woodworking and assembly is all done in Texas.
Each clothespin is sturdy and can hold up to 10 pounds. Wooden clothespins of this quality also share another special design feature: 2 holes of different sizes below the stainless steel spring. The hole furthest from the spring is larger and great for gripping most fabrics. The smaller hole closer to the spring enables these clothespins to properly grip thin, delicate fabrics without slipping. No other clothespin on this list has this feature!
These clothespins are expensive, but you are paying for the high quality and care put into the making of each one. These are clothespins that will last a lifetime so consider this a “buy once, cry once” situation, well worth the investment.
- Made with durable ash hardwood and non-rusting stainless steel springs
- Sturdy, each clothespin holds 10 pounds
- Materials and manufacturing both in the USA
- Expensive (but well worth the cost!)
- Some customers complain of the protective linseed oil smelling bad upon opening the package, but this dissipates quickly over time
- Material: Ash wood, 13-gauge stainless steel
- Dimensions: 3.5 x 0.75 x 0.42 inches
- Quantity: 20
Best Stainless Steel: Vida Picks Stainless Steel Laundry Clips
Stainless steel laundry clips are a more modern take on the classic wooden design. These are small but sturdy! Made with high quality 304 stainless steel, you don’t have to worry about these rusting or breaking down over time.
Don’t let their petite size fool you, these stainless steel clothespins can keep heavy fabrics on the line in windy weather. I have seen other customers share images of wet denim blowing in a heavy wind still on the line held by these stainless steel clothespins. Each clip can hold up to 10 pounds of weight.
The only potential downside to these stainless steel laundry clips is they are less comfortable for fingers to open and close than wooden versions. If that doesn’t concern you then these are a fantastic, durable, and budget friendly option for laundry clips.
- Easy to clean
- Rust-free and long lasting
- Each clip holds 10 pounds
- Budget friendly
- Harder on fingers to open and close
- Material: 304 stainless steel
- Dimensions: 2.36 inches
- Quantity: 40
Best Space Saving: 52 Clips Stainless Steel Laundry Drying Rack
If you like to hang dry smaller items like baby clothes, cloth diapers, underwear, bras, or even socks, then it can be annoying when these tiny items take up a ton of space on your clothesline. This hanging drying rack is a great way to save space while still gently air drying small clothing.
There are two size options, one offers 34 laundry clips and the other has 52. You can easily hang this foldable drying rack from your clothesline, in a closet, from a hook in your laundry room ceiling, or even from your shower curtain rod.
The entire rack is made from stainless steel so it won’t rust. Plus, the clips have rounded edges so you don’t have to worry about accidentally snagging delicate fabrics. This is an excellent, space-saving option for people committed to air drying their clothes.
- Holds up to 52 small articles of clothing
- Great for baby clothes, intimates, lightweight performance fabrics, socks, etc.
- Folds in half for easy storage
- Not suitable for drying large or heavier items
- Requires 14” x 24” of hanging space
- Material: Stainless Steel
- Dimensions: 11.6″D x 13.4″W x 24.4″H
- Quantity: 52 attached clips
Best for Travel: Newraturner 2 Pack Portable Clothesline
Do you travel or camp regularly? If so then a portable clothesline with attached clothespins might come in handy. This is especially the case on beach vacations or travel where swimming is involved. Simply string this rubber clothesline up and hang swimsuits and towels to dry properly after each use.
This handy travel clothesline includes 12 pre-attached clothespins. Of course, you have the option to add more should you need or want to. When not in use, this clothesline is compact and easy to squeeze into a suitcase, duffel, or backpack.
- Great for camping, beach vacations, or other travel that might require line drying
- Compact and easy to pack
- 12 pre-attached clothespins per clothesline
- Requires access to balcony railings or other hooks to hang the line from in order to use
- Material: Rubber, stainless steel
- Dimensions: 10-12 feet wide
- Quantity: 12 clothespins per line
Considerations Before Purchasing
No matter what clothespins you choose, make sure they are weather resistant and sturdy. Plastic clips will deteriorate quickly if left in the sun for long periods of time. They are also prone to snapping when brittle. Natural materials like hard wood and stainless steel are superior, long-lasting materials for clothespins.
Make sure the springs on your clothespins are stainless steel and not some lower quality metal. Other metals will get rusty over time, especially when they are in contact with damp fabrics. The last thing you want is for rust stains to transfer from your clothespins onto your clothes.
Make sure that your clothespins are comfortable and easy for your fingers to grasp. Also avoid clothespins with any sharp edges. This is not only a safety hazard, it can also lead to unwanted holes in your fabrics!
Check that there is enough surface area at the base of each clothespin to grip fabrics properly. The last thing you need is for fabrics to constantly slip out of your clothespins and end up dirty once again on the floor.
It matters less how you store your clothespins than it matters where you store your clothespins. Ideally you will remove clothespins from the line after each use and store them somewhere clean, dry, and out of inclement weather.
Some nice storage options include:
Canvas hanging bag – hang this bag from your clothesline as you’re clipping laundry to dry, then hang it indoors from a hook or in a closet when your clothespins are not in use.
Apron pockets – use an apron with a large front pocket for storing and easily accessing your clothespins as you work.
Basket – a simple, classic option is to simply store clothespins in a basket so you can bring it outside with you to hang dry clothes on laundry day.
This design feature is unique to wooden clothespins. In high quality wooden clothespins, there is a larger hole furthest down from the stainless steel spring that is great for gripping most fabrics. Then there is a smaller hole closer to the spring that is used to grip thinner, more delicate fabrics without slipping.
Some wooden clothespins have two holes of equal size. Look for wooden clothespins with one hole smaller than the other (like these Heritage Clothespins) to ensure they have the ability to properly grip fabrics of all thicknesses.
Yes, but it’s always best to take them off after each use to maintain their quality over time. The more your clothespins are exposed to the elements (sun, rain, etc.) the faster they will degrade.
Additionally, clothespins left on the line will inevitably get dirty. The wind, rain, dust, and dirt will collect on your clothespins over time and that dust can transfer to your clean laundry. Avoid all of this by investing in a great clothespin storage bag and taking pins on and off the line as needed.
Bleach is going to be your best bet when removing mold from wood. Mix 10 parts water with 1 part bleach in a bin or a bucket. Soak wooden clothespins in the bleach mixture for a few hours, then remove and rinse the clothespins under cold water. Let them air dry completely before using again.