What is a Wringer?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2019
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Wringers were once considered part of essential equipment in just about every home around the country. As part of the machinery that was used to wash clothing, the wringer was a device mounted on the top of an agitating washing machine, and served as the means of forcing most of the water out of freshly washed clothing. The use of a wringer set helped to prepare the clothing for air drying on an open line or in front of an open fire.

The design for the wringer apparatus on early washing machines was very simple. Equipped with two rollers that were mounted in close proximity on a small frame, the wringer worked by using a hand crank to rotate both rollers at the same time. As the rollers turned, clothing was run through the tiny space between the units. This helped to squeeze or wring excess liquid from the clothing. As a result, the clothes could be placed on an outdoor line and dry in a relatively short period of time.


With later versions of the washing machine wringer, the hand crank was replaced with a small electric motor that could be activated with the use of a lever or push button. This improvement in design and function made the act of wringing freshly washed laundry much easier. Unfortunately, this design did not include much in the way of safety precautions, which left open the possibility of damage to fingers during use. The addition of mangles helped to minimize the chances for injury, as the mangle provided some protection against accidentally getting the hands too close to the rollers during operation.

Later designs for the household washer included spinning action that eliminated the need for the wringer. This meant a quicker and more efficient means to do laundry. By the middle of the 20th century, the last of the wringer style washing machines were out of mass production.

The wringer is still in use today, although with different applications. Many car washes make use of a wringer to squeeze out excess water from cleaning cloths. There are smaller hand models of the wringer that are ideal for taking along on a camping trip. These wringers can easily be mounted on a tree stump and used to wring out water from swimsuits or other types of clothing.


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