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Permanent Press: What It Means and When to Use It

The Sauce Boss
Apr 27, 2024
Laundry Tips

Permanent press, or “perm press,” is a washer or dryer cycle that uses lower temperatures and less agitation to prevent wrinkling. This cycle is ideal for synthetic or semi-synthetic fabrics.

Honest hour: If we gave you a pop quiz on the different settings on your washer and dryer, do you think you’d pass? If you’re not confident, you’re not alone. Washers and dryers these days come with all sorts of fancy technology—but one of the most common phrases you’ll find is “perm press.”

Short for “permanent press,” this cycle typically involves a combination of high and low temperatures to prevent wrinkling. This innovation was aimed at addressing the need for a cycle that could wash and dry synthetic fabrics without your clothes coming out creased and crumpled.

So, can you really fight wrinkles with the press of a button?

Keep reading to learn how the permanent press cycle works, when to use it, and how it’s different from the other settings on your washing machine.

What Does Permanent Press Mean?

Permanent press, or “perm press,” is a washer or dryer cycle designed to minimize wrinkles and creases in the fabric. It can also help prevent color fading, shrinkage, and pilling.

On a washing machine, the permanent press cycle washes your garments with cool water and a slower spin cycle to minimize agitation.

On a dryer, the permanent press cycle uses medium heat, low-speed tumbling, and a cool-down period to keep your clothes from wrinkling.

Keep in mind that permanent press cycles can vary depending on your washing machine or dryer machine’s manufacturer.

Here are some other common names for permanent press that you might find on your washer or dryer control panel:

  • Casual
  • Wrinkle control
  • Wrinkle shield
  • Wrinkle guard
  • Easy care
  • Crease guard
  • No-iron
  • Easy iron
  • Anti-wrinkle

When to Use the Permanent Press Cycle

The easiest way to know when to use the permanent press cycle is to check the care instructions on the garment. If the tag says “permanent press,” go for it.

You can also know whether to use the permanent press cycle based on the type of fabric. Some garments have a permanent press fabric finish, so if the label says "wrinkle-resistant," "wrinkle-free," or "wrinkle control,” that’s generally a sign to use the perm press cycle.

Additionally, clothes made of synthetic or semi-synthetic fabrics are best washed and dried using the permanent press cycle. This may include button-down shirts or slacks—especially those with pleats permanently pressed into them.

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Can You Use the Permanent Press Cycle for All Clothes?

While the permanent press cycle can be a game changer when you can’t afford to wrinkle a pair of fancy slacks. But you shouldn’t wash and dry all of your clothes on the permanent press setting. Here are a few reasons why:

Fabric Compatibility: The permanent press cycle is ideal for synthetic fabrics and blends. However, it may not be good for heavily soiled garments or those made of natural fibers like cotton, which may require a more vigorous wash.

Water Temperature: The permanent press cycle typically uses cooler water temperatures to prevent shrinkage and damage to synthetic fabrics. However, some clothes, such as heavily soiled items or those with specific care requirements, may require warmer water for effective cleaning.

Agitation Level: The gentle agitation in the permanent press cycle may not be sufficient to remove tough stains or thoroughly clean heavily soiled items. Clothes that need a more thorough wash may benefit from a regular or heavy-duty cycle with higher agitation.

Drying Time: While the permanent press cycle can reduce wrinkling during drying, it may not be suitable for all garments. Some clothes, such as thick towels or denim jeans, may require longer drying times or higher heat settings to dry effectively.

Will the Permanent Press Cycle Shrink Clothes?

The permanent press cycle is designed to minimize shrinkage by using cooler temperatures and gentler agitation compared to other wash and dry cycles. However, the permanent press setting doesn’t guarantee shrinkage won’t occur.

Some fabrics are more prone to shrinking than others, regardless of the cycle used. For example, natural fibers like cotton and wool can shrivel up, even with minimal amounts of heat.
The only foolproof way to prevent shrinkage is to wash your garments in cold water and hang them up to air dry.

Permanent Press vs. Normal Cycle: What’s the Difference?

Whether you’re talking about your washer or dryer, the main difference between a permanent press and a normal cycle is the temperature.

For the wash cycle, the water temperature and spin speed are both lower for permanent press than normal.

For the dryer, permanent press involves a lower drying temperature, less agitation, and a longer cool-down period compared to a normal setting.

Permanent Press vs. Delicates Cycle: What’s the Difference?

While the permanent press cycle is way more gentle than the regular cycle, it’s not a substitute for the delicate cycle on your washer or dryer.

The permanent press cycle uses medium-temperature water and air, while the delicate cycle typically uses cold water and room-temperature air to ensure delicate fabrics don't get damaged. Additionally, the spin mechanics may also differ between the two settings.

Items such as silk, wool, lace, and lingerie should always be washed and dried separately from the rest of your laundry using the delicate setting.

Use the Sauce for Every Cycle

Whether you’re washing your work slacks on perm press or washing your bedsheets on heavy-duty after a rowdy date night, Laundry Sauce is the ultimate hack to keep your stuff smelling clean and luxurious. We’ve got the best-smelling laundry pods, dryer sheets, scent boosters, and fabric softeners in the game, with scentsational fragrances like Australian Sandalwood, Egyptian Rose, Italian Bergamot, and more.

We get it—choosing the right settings to wash and dry your clothes can be confusing. But choosing the best laundry detergent is a no-brainer once you get a whiff of the Sauce.

Discover your signature fragrance and see why thousands of people are ditching their jugs of lame, liquid detergent.

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