The Permanent Press settings on a washer and dryer are underrated because they are misunderstood. The cryptic name sounds daunting because, when it comes to our wardrobe, "permanent" sounds particularly terrifying. No one wants to shrink their favorite black tee shirt or their most treasured ugly Christmas sweater. Well, have no fear! Here is why you should start to use the Permanent Press settings on a regular basis.

woman in washing machine

What Is Permanent Press?

Permanent Press uses warm water which relaxes the wrinkles in clothing. It then uses a slow spin which prevents new wrinkles from forming. Its cycle is also shorter than the "normal" setting because less agitation means less wear and tear on your clothing. Think of Permanent Press like a gentle massage that can lull you into relaxation as opposed to a deep tissue massage which may work out the kinks, but makes you wince in regret the whole time. By washing your items in a gentle manner, the fibers are less likely to pull which will leave them misshapen.

permanent press cycle

Permanent Press Setting for a Dryer

You know when you open up the dryer and get those warm clothes out that feel so good? Well, that high heat actually causes wrinkles to form like a curling iron or straightener for your hair. The high temperature alters the actual shape and volume of your tresses. The same applies to all materials including clothing.

The Permanent Press setting for a dryer reduces the risk of wrinkles because it uses medium heat with a longer cooling down period. Because the permanent press setting dries the clothes on a warm temperature then gradually cools down to air temperature, the wrinkles in your fabric will relax. Moreover, this method of drying helps maintain the colors of your clothing longer because high heat will cause the dye to evaporate over time.

laundry settings

What Should You Use Permanent Press For?

The Permanent Press cycle should be used on synthetic fibers such as rayon, polyester, and cotton blends.

Use this setting for:

  • dress pants
  • button-down shirts
  • your "good" tee-shirts
  • officewear

Using Permanent Press for washing and drying will help your wardrobe look nice longer because it's intended to prevent damage to the fibers and dyes. It also reduces the time (if any) you'll need to spend ironing. This setting is designed to have your clothes wash and wear. To make sure, however, you should remove clothing from the dryer as soon as they are finished and fold them in their creases. This last step will ensure that you've optimized your Permanent Press settings to the fullest extent.

shirt laundry

What Shouldn't You Use Permanent Press For?

Heavy duty items and bulky items should NOT use the Permanent Press cycle.

Do not use this setting for:

  • Jeans
  • sheets
  • towels
  • delicates (such as undergarments)

Jeans, bedding, and towels need a good hard scrub so the "normal" cycle, which works vigorously, is ideal for getting these items clean. Furthermore, the weave of the fibers are very dense so won't pill or pull easily. They are often thick and utilitarian so can hold up to little more kneading than thinner, more delicate items.

Speaking of delicate, they should not be used in Permanent Press either. As their name suggests, they need their own cycle. Even though Permanent Press is gentle on synthetic blends, it proves too harsh for your delicate items.

folded towels

Additional Tips

  • Check out our step-by-step guide on how to do laundry here.
  • Sort laundry properly to make sure each load consists of items made of the same fabrics.
  • Do not overfill loads. This can cause wrinkles because there isn't enough room for them to breathe.
  • Fold clothes as soon as you can.
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