Pop-quiz time: what kink toy can be extremely intense, remarkably flexible, always affordable, infinitely modifiable, and can be used practically anywhere?

The title gave it away, didn’t it?

It slices (not really), dices (not at all), and can even crack nuts (not in a million years): the just-about perfect kink toy - the clothespin.

Yeah, yeah, I can hear you. A clothespin, you say, that a bit of wood of plastic with a tiny little spring? The stuff in dollar stores from here to Timbuktu?

Well, let me tell you, in the right hands that humble little clothespin can be the stuff of (delightful) nightmares.

I was first introduced to the clothespins as part of nipple play. The thing with breast and nipple toys, you see, is that so many of them are just, to be gentle, awful. Repurposed electrical clamps either come loose at exactly the wrong time or bite in exactly wrong way. In particular the latter, when one of those little plastic tips comes off that protects your partner from the razor sharp teeth. Ouch -- and not in a good way.

On the other end of the spectrum are the high-end toys, the ones that have been designed by some skilled BDSM engineer for optimal breast or nipple clampage. While many are thoroughly excellent and do what they were designed to do, they are often on the pricey-side. Far too often, they are bought and then end up either being neglected in the bottom of your play bag or passed along to someone else - who also forgets about them in the bottom of THEIR play bag.

The thing is, it’s hard to judge how fun a tit toy can be without using it - and for quite a bit of time. Because of that, we can sometimes be seduced by looks and then let down by any lack of real usefulness. This is especially true for folks new to nipple play. What they, and even many of us more “seasoned” players, need is a useful little toy that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

Once again, the title gives it away.

Read: 10 Kink Toys for Those on a Tight Budget

Why Clothespins?

Clothespins come in a million different types: those with teeth, those without, plastic, wood, and other materials. Personally, I try to find either the basic wooden clothespin or plastic ones that either don’t have teeth or have only very small ones.

The reason for this depends on what you want to do with them. If you plan on pulling on a clothespin, either with weights or through a zipper (more on that in a bit), then I’d suggest the no-teeth variety as if you tug on a few of these types then can actually tear the skin. Not fun.

While we are on the subject of materials, do remember that the benefit of plastic ones is that they can be sterilized - and so can be used for more than one person. The wooden ones, though, cannot. They really are a one-person toy.

Why Do Clothespins Work So Well for Kinky Fun?

An interesting part of clothespins for kinky play is that they often will hurt more coming off than going on. The reason for this is that when applied, they cut off a tiny amount of circulation to the skin, which then rushes back when they are removed. The longer you leave them, the more intense the feeling when they come off.

As for where to put them…well, there’s practically no limit: if you can pinch it, you can clothespin it. That being said, placing them just anywhere on a person might be fun for the top, but more than a few bottoms would find it more annoying than erotic.

Back to personal preferences. Instead of leaping for the nipples, I follow the curve of the breast: placing one clothespin after another until you create a fan of them. Your can even play them like a piano, tapping them so that they move a tiny bit (which can be quite intense) or even knocking them off completely. And, again, the non-tooth varieties of clothespins are best for this.

Then you can go toward the nipple. You don’t really want to just snap them on. A good technique is to place the clothespin on the nipple, but also keep it slightly open with your fingers. That way, you can slowly release it while simultaneously judging your partner’s reaction.

For a first-time clothespin person, I try to leave them on for no longer than maybe 30 seconds to a minute. Even less depending on their sensitivity. You can, after all, always put them back on.

Read: The Ultimate Guide to Using Household Items as Sex Toys

Zippers: Simple in Design & Execution. Serious in Sensation

And now we come to Satan’s keyboard: zippers.

Zippers are so simple in design, yet they can bring often bring even hardened pain lovers to their knees. All you need are four or five clothespins, without teeth, and a length of string or cord. Next, you weave the cord through the center of the clothespin (usually through the spring). I recommend a knot or even a bead between each one. Be sure to give yourself a good foot or even two at either end, and maybe even a loop you can hang onto.

The way zippers work is also simple. Just attach the clothespins to your partner - again, the side of the breast is a good place - in a neat little row. Wait a bit, for maxim effect, and then take each end and give it a sure, quick pull: ideally pulling them all off in one shot.

People on the other end of a zipper have described it as a lighting bolt of sensation - or a fucking rush, depending on how long the pins have been left on.

The reason for only using four or five is that you want the pins to be pulled away as perpendicular to the body as possible. While doing more clothespins and yanking the cord from only one side can be more intense it raises the risk that some of the clothespins might twist, break, and tear your partner's skin. Again: ouch (and not in a good way).

It you really want to be evil (and I know you do), then make more than just one set of zippers. Two, perhaps, for each breast, one on each side of the nipple. That way you can yank one set off, wait a bit, then continue with the rest to your heart’s desire - and your partner’s so-delightful yells.

Read: Why Pain Makes Us Horny: The Process That Turns Pain Into Pleasure

Clothespins and Genitals

Clothespins can also be quite fun on genitalia. This is where it is extra important to use the type without teeth: a bit of skin being torn on the side of the breast is one thing, but having a divot of tissue removed from a labia or the underside of a cock is quite another. For people with penis and testicles, clothespins can be placed on the scrotum and the underside of the shaft or even, depending on the person’s anatomy, the glans at the head. As these areas can be extremely sensitive it’s important not to leave them clamped too long - at first, at any rate.

For people with labia, clothespins can be placed … well, wherever they fit. Personally, I do not recommend placing them on the clitoris as it can actually be damaged by excessive pressure - not to mention of a clothespin is jerked away.

A Little Note About Playing Safe

As with anything in the BDSM world, learning as much as possible about anything is not just a good idea it is essential. If this is playful little piece has you excited to try clothespins, please don’t just run out to the dollar store and get dozens and dozens of the wonderful little devices. Instead, take classes, read more articles, watch videos, test things out on yourself, and repeat and repeat and repeat again and again - and THEN give it a shot. One thing that is fantastic about clothespins, aside from their affordability, versatility and intensity, is that they are an experience that can, and should, be shared.

Right up there with learning everything and anything--and always playing with safety (emotionally as well as physically) in mind - a good top should know what everything feels like. Personally. So before you get all demonically toppy with clothespins, put them on yourself and see how they feel coming, going, and even zippered away.

Then you can take the humble little clothespin out for a spin on other people: knowing not only what they can do but how amazing they can truly be.