In the not-so-distant past, hanging clothes out on a line was the way most people dried their laundry. Most of us have indoor dryers now, but clothespins remain a useful thing to keep on hand. For one thing, you might still like the smell of clothes or bedding that have been line-dried in the fresh breeze. Even if you don't, clothespins are useful for crafting purposes and for a surprising number of ingenious home hacks.
1. "Finger Extender" When Using Matches
In housewares stores, you'll sometimes see extra-long matches, often in decorative cylindrical holders, which are meant for lighting fireplaces or extra-deep candles. Unfortunately, those aren't always around when you need one, but plain ol' regular-length wooden matches are easy to find. If you need to use a match in one of those extra-reach scenarios, a simple clothespin can save your fingertips from peril. Just grip the un-lit end of the match with a clothespin, and then use the clothespin to extend the match to your candle wick or fire starter.
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2. Save Your Fingers When Driving Nails
Driving nails is a pretty basic home skill. You'll use it on most of your home projects, and even for little things like hanging pictures. Despite that deceptive simplicity, there's also the potential for a lot of pain and possibly a legitimate injury if you miss the nail and hit your fingers instead. That's especially the case with small finishing nails, or any nail you drive in an awkward space. To save your poor fingertips from peril, keep a clothespin close by. Instead of holding the nail between a thumb and finger, grip it with the clothespin instead. You'll drive the nail just as effectively, but with no chance of thumping yourself.
3. Keep Your Room Dark and Restful
Getting a good night's sleep is sometimes challenging, especially when you have to do part of your sleeping in broad daylight. A sturdy set of light-blocking curtains is an absolute must if you work varying shifts, or even if you just sometimes need a nap during the day. Unfortunately, you'll often get light leaking through the space between the curtains. To fix that, just use a few clothespins to hold them together in the middle. This is also a really useful tip when you're traveling, and find yourself in a room that's flooded with light from streetlights or signage outside. Pack a few clothespins into your suitcase, just in case!
4. Travel Toothbrush Holder
A few clothespins make a good travel companion for other reasons, as well. For one thing, if you're even mildly germophobic, you might not want to place your toothbrush or makeup brushes directly on a counter that someone else has used. To avoid that, simply clip a clothespin or two to the handle of the brush before you set it down. The clothespins will raise it up from the counter, and whatever might live there. If your room doesn't come equipped with pants hangers for your pants, you can also improvise one by sliding clothespins over the bottom of a standard wire hanger, and clipping them to the hem of your pant legs.
5. Nail-Free Seasonal Decorating
Although nails provide an inexpensive and convenient way to hang things, they aren't always possible or appropriate. If you don't want to use nails or screwed-in hooks, or if you live in a rental and are simply forbidden to use them, clothespins can provide an alternative. Use them to clip strings of garland or lights to existing surfaces, like curtains, curtain rods, chandeliers or lampshades (depending on the room, you might need to exercise some imagination). You may also be able to tack clothespins to the back edges of your furniture, where the nails won't show, and then attach lights or dangly baubles.
6. Damage-Free Hanging for Photos
Similarly, you can use clothespins any time you want to hang a maximum of photos with a minimum of damage to your walls. Start by finding a suitable expanse of wall, and using two or more nails or thumbtacks to mark the sides of your photo display. Run a length of colorful yarn or ribbon, or rustic twine, between the two nails in a gentle arc, and then use clothespins to attach photos, prints, or even small pieces of original art. You can place multiple runs of twine beside or beneath each other, for a higher-impact effect. If there are kids in the house to generate a volume of "fridge art," hot-glue flat magnets to a handful of clothespins and use those to hold your latest batch securely to the door.
7. Get a Better Grip With Clothespin Chopsticks
Unless you grew up with them, eating your Chinese or Japanese food with chopsticks is one of those "bragging rights" skills that some people acquire and others don't. There's definitely a knack to it, which takes time and practice to learn. Some companies sell "cheatsticks" that are joined together in some way, often with a hinge, to make them easier for novices to work with. You can improve your own set with nothing more than a pair of chopsticks and the spring from a clothespin. Pry apart the flat portions of the spring with a screwdriver or butter knife, and slide one chopstick between them. Now turn the spring over and do it again, so you have a chopstick on either side of the coiled spring. The spring keeps the chopsticks lined up correctly, so you simply need to squeeze and release to handle your food.
8. Re-Close Bags of Frozen Foods
Frozen foods keep for much longer than their fresh equivalents, so they're often sold in bags large enough to provide several meals. That's good for your budget, but it also means you'll need to find a way to re-close the bag when you put it back into the freezer. Many bags now have built-in recloseable zipper seals, but most do not. For the ones that aren't self-sealing, squeeze out as much air as possible with your hands and then twist the top of the bag to seal it. Clip a clothespin onto the bag, and it's ready to go back into the freezer. It's cheaper and easier than sealing the whole thing in a freezer bag, and more environmentally responsible as well.
9. Easy DIY Paintbrush
Paintbrushes come in many different styles and sizes, including the ones that use small sponges to hold the paint instead of bristles. Those are convenient for many uses, including small areas and delicate sections of trim where a larger brush would be problematic. Their only shortcoming is that they're not as easy to clean and reuse as the bristle type, so you may find yourself running out of brushes more quickly than you'd like. When that happens, you can improvise one in a hurry with a clothespin and a small piece of foam or sponge. Just trim a neat piece from the sponge or foam, double it over, and grip it with the clothespin. The pin itself serves as a handle, and you can reuse it as many times as you'd like by replacing the foam.
10. Quick DIY Air Freshener
There's a whole industry built around air fresheners for your car and other tight spaces, but often the scents available aren't especially pleasant. If you have a few wooden clothespins and some essential oils in the house, you have everything you need for your own custom DIY air fresheners. Just place a few drops of your favorite oils directly on the wood of the clothespin, and wait a few moments for it to sink in. Then clip the clothespin to your car's vents, or to the output of a window air conditioner, or to a hanger in your closet. When the scent begins to fade over time, just reapply the essential oils to refresh the freshener.