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What is a Clotheshorse?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 21, 2024
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The term "clotheshorse" or "clothes horse" actually has two different meanings, depending on the context. One meaning refers to a laundry accessory, while the other is an adjective for a stylish person. The adjective was derived from the noun, since both seem to exist solely for the purpose of displaying clothes. A laundry clotheshorse can be purchased from a laundry supply, and a human clotheshorse can probably be observed in the wild if you wait long enough at a bar, coffeehouse, or fashionable restaurant.

In laundry terms, a clotheshorse is a drying rack. The clotheshorse is designed to be folded when it is not needed, and unfolded to reveal an assortment of dowels on which clothing can be hung to dry. For hand washed clothing and delicates, a clotheshorse is a vitally necessary tool. It can also be useful to keep one around for drying sweaters and coats which have been soaked in the rain. Generally, a clotheshorse is kept in the laundry room or another location with a linoleum or tile floor, so that dripping water from the drying clothes does not damage the flooring.

Most typically, a laundry clotheshorse is made of wood. This unfortunate design decision means that it is occasionally necessary to bleach the clotheshorse or expose it to bright sunlight to remove mold and mildew. Variants made from metal and plastic are also available, although these construction materials have their shortcomings as well. Make sure to oil or wax the joints of a clotheshorse regularly to keep it moving smoothly.

A human clotheshorse is someone who puts a great deal of energy into dressing fashionably. The term is often applied to a vain person who invests sometimes alarming amounts of time and money in looking good. Being a clotheshorse can cost a great deal of money, as changes in style may necessitate an entirely new wardrobe. Because dressing fashionably requires good taste, lots of time, a fair amount of money, and the willingness to follow trends, it is not for the faint of heart. The term may also be used less pejoratively to simply describe someone who dresses smartly.

Some people use the more negative term "clothes whore" to refer to a clotheshorse. The term could be viewed either as a mondegreen or a natural evolution of the clotheshorse. It is much more common for someone to refer to him or herself as a clothes whore, often self-deprecatingly. Generally, one should know someone rather well before calling them a clothes whore, as the term is rather denigrating.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a BeautyAnswered researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By spasiba — On Jul 15, 2010

In some European countries I have seen clothes horse, or something that could be referred to as clothes horse, where the frame is made out of metal and there are horizontal lines where the laundry is hung to dry. It is primarily used for drying all type of laundry since dryers are still not that common.

It is a very practical and necessary household item to have. Also when not in use they can be folded and stored away using minimal amount of space.

By Aufgreisser — On May 19, 2008

Cool article, really. Thanx a lot for composing it!

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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