The basic idea of any laundry drying device is to provide a place where garments and fabrics can be hung or draped over after washing until they are completely removed of moisture, or at least, dry enough to be worn or used again.
Hence, the existence of what is called a clothes horse, which goes by many other names but is more popularly known as a clothesline in the 21st century.
Clothes horse, refers to a frame (usually made of wood) that can carry or bear clothing items to enable them to dry.
This is how folks in the south of England address this cheap and simple laundry drying instrument since the 1800s – even until today – and is also synonymous to terms such as clothes maiden, garment donkey, scissor rack, or drying stand.
The term ‘clothes horse’ arises from the fact that a four-legged structure has innate sturdiness and reliability to take on what’s put on to it – similar to the purpose of a real horse.
And like the function of a ‘clothesline’ in the modern vernacular, a clothes horse is where one hangs clothes onto for drying – both in indoor and outdoor settings, depending on weather conditions.
Working in a fullonica is considered a man’s job because of the hard manual labour that is required to accomplish the task from start to finish.
Clothes (made of wool, because cotton is not available yet) have to be continuously stamped by the feet of the fullones in vats or tubs before hung on a basket-woven structure called viminea cavea – which is somewhat similar to what a clothes horse is.
In the early 19th century, the removal of excess water from the fabric – after washing and rinsing – are achieved through rollers or press wringers.
Before the break of the 20th century, electricity has enabled man to use small motors to drive various machines, including washers and dryers.
Nevertheless, the introduction of modern laundry machines and laundry services has not rendered the clothes horse obsolete which is why this article is your definitive guide to everything pertaining to a clothes horse.
Types of Clothes Horse
Tiered Clothes Horse
A tiered clothes horse, or multi-tier clothes horse, is a raised rack system that can function independently of any permanently installed bracket or brace structure. Its concertina-shaped design allows it to vertically expand and contract as needed.
As a free-standing unit, it usually has sturdy and reliable frame to serve a two-fold purpose: first, to eliminate the need for a structural floor; second, to allow the tiers to rest on top of each other without falling apart when loaded with wet washing.
Because of this, a tiered clothes horse can increase your drying space and optimise your floor space without the need to extend or relocate the unit itself.
This type of laundry drying equipment is perfect wherever there is limited floor space and multiple loads of laundry have to be accomplished.
Folding Clothes Horse
A folding clothes horse, or foldable clothes horse, is designed to fit in small spaces, to be moved easily as needed, and to be packed flat when not in use.
The challenge usually is to create a mechanism – not too complicated to operate or too heavy to be a burden – that will hold all the pieces together and become a functional drying rack.
As a result, a folding clothes horse can be structurally connected through hinges, whether butt hinge, piano hinge, pivot hinge, or spring hinge – to allow the unit to be completely opened and used both vertically and horizontally for laundry drying.
Winged Clothes Horse
A winged clothes horse, or a gullwing-style clothes horse, offers maximum drying space for minimal floor space.
It can have either a criss-cross base or A-shaped base section – both of which provides extra stability to the unit which allows the winged portions to be utilised as needed.
The right structural design is essential to prevent the clothes horse from tipping over from any side, especially when loaded with heavy wet washing.
A winged clothes horse makes it possible to accomplish several loads of laundry while mobility and storage are also made hassle-free as you can put the wing frames in the down position.
Tower Clothes Horse
A tower clothes horse like a tiered clothes horse is a raised rack system but without the concertina-shaped design.
It is equipped with vertical and horizontal bars – enough to accommodate a full washing load at the very least; plus, it is ideal for hanging long items such as dresses and pants.
Benefits of Using a Clothes Horse
Ideally, you would prefer the sun shining every time you do your laundry so you can skip the dryer and just take advantage of that solar power to dry your clothes to perfection.
You have every right to put a traditional rotary hoist in the middle of the backyard or garden do all the work – because in the end, you would get that fresh, crisp smell that only outdoor drying can produce.
And while there is plenty of sunshine to go around in almost all capital cities of Australia, the same cannot be said for those living in the north-eastern and mid-western parts of North America.
Also, ask folks in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands or Reykjavik, Iceland how they feel about having to deal with too many cloud days in a year than the rest of the world.
Let’s not forget the fact that the least sunny place in Australia still receives almost 200 hours more sun than the sunniest place in England!
So yes, there’s nothing wrong with completely putting your faith on a fixed-place outdoor clothesline or even have a portable drying rack be positioned where it can follow the sun.
But what about those days when it’s tipping down outside or when the rain’s pouring like there’s no tomorrow?
It would be nice to have to depend on a sturdy high quality clothes horse to finish multiple loads once and for all without worrying about any encumbrance.
With that in mind, here are top ten reasons why a clothes horse can be a constant life saver for your household at any season – even in the dead of winter.
10 Reasons Why You Should Consider a Clothes Horse
It is mobile and lightweight enough to be taken outdoors when the sun is on full blast or to just retain indoors on days when the weather is too fickle-minded to rely upon.
Clothes horse products these days come in various sizes, designs, and features that puts its user-friendliness to maximum capacity.
A clothesline that is permanently-installed on a specific location has its advantages too.
A clothes horse offers hassle-free satisfaction knowing that you can use it however you want it to be – depending on the fabric you’re dealing with, the volume of laundry at hand, or the current weather condition.
Because of the variety of features that a clothes horse offers, clothes drying tasks don’t have to be a burden anymore.
You can position it near the washer so you can hang items once the cycle is finished; you can adjust the frame to accommodate fabrics of different length, thickness, or colour.
you can even utilise accessories that comes with it (e.g. pegs) to ensure that all pieces would stay put until they dry off completely.
A clothes horse can fit in the smallest and most awkward of places inside or outside your detached house or apartment.
The same thing cannot be said if you want to position a dryer in a space-challenged home.
Whether it’s tiered, winged, or tower clothes horse, it would literally take up a small fraction of your floor area – and you’ll still be able to have a decent hanging line for all your wet washing.
Most clothes horse products come pre-assembled while others don’t even require complex installation expertise to be put together.
And once you’ve finished setting it up, nothing much is required to use it – just hang your laundry items as strategically as possible for fast drying action!
While the same can be said for rotary clotheslines with polycore or galvabond lines, a clothes horse provides extreme adaptability depending on the type of fabric or garment you’re dealing with.
There are clothes horse products high enough to accommodate long pieces so it won’t touch the floor/ground; equipped with wings to allow better air circulation in between items; and, designed with a mesh surface for flat drying or drip drying delicate apparel.
Clothes horse products have come a long way in terms of improving its form and layout to provide a better frame for hanging clothes. Here’s a rundown on some of the most excellent features found on clothes horse products:
Flip-out corners – a variation of a winged clothes horse – so you can position hangers without scrunching up items beside it
Anti-crease bars – to lessen wrinkles and lines left on fabric
Sock pegs – to prevent socks and similar items from slipping off the drying bar
Mesh section – for flat drying or drip drying delicate pieces such as lingerie, satin camisoles, and such
Non-slip, non-scratch feet – for worry-free movement on hard floor
Multi-positional arms/shelves – set up the drying bars however you want them to be positioned
Auto-lock mechanism – secures the frame into fixed and stable position to avoid collapsing
Caster wheels – makes it easy to glide around
Protected poles/ends – to prevent any snagging or catching on clothing items
A cold and wet weather is the bane of any laundry drying effort.
If it wasn’t for the high utility costs that an automatic tumble dryer is known for, you’d shamelessly use it regardless of fabric type, mood you’re in, or even if you’ve resorted to running the washer at half load.
Thankfully, an electric clothes horse can help get your clothes dry quickly at half the energy consumption.
It’s just one of the modifications incorporated on the traditional clothes horse products these days.
This isn’t just about pitting a traditional outdoor clothesline with a tumble dryer. It’s more about whether an electric clothes horse is more cost effective than a tumble dryer.
Of course, this depends on the laundry load, the frequency of drying, and the drying expectations (e.g. how fast you want it to dry).
Even the best tumble dryers bearing the two-thumbs up approval from the Energy Saving Trust will produce more than 160kg CO2 annually.
Might as well skip the electric clothes horse altogether and just settle for any of the abovementioned basic categories of clothes horse so you can do your part to save the environment while attending to your laundry chores.