A Closer Look at the Perm Press Setting on Your Washer

I’ve noticed that most washing machines feature a permanent press cycle (perm press) that not many people seem to know about. Personally, I’ve come across this setting many times, but I often find myself sticking to the regular cycle because it’s what I’m used to.

However, I’ve learned that using the proper cycles to wash and dry your clothes can make a big difference in keeping your favorite garments looking brand new while also being efficient. So, I decided to learn more about the permanent press cycle to see how it works and what its benefits are.

What is Permanent (Perm) Press?

perm press washer

You most likely have come across the permanent press cycle symbol on your washer; it is represented by a cup of water having a line drawn underneath. Your laundry skills will undoubtedly advance if you fully understand the perm press cycle, how to use it, and when to use it.

The term ‘Permanent press’ originally referred to clothing that has undergone chemical treatment to withstand wrinkles and folds better. Washers and dryers now have a specific cycle for these kinds of clothes due to the technique’s surge in popularity. Clothing that is prone to wrinkles, shrinking, color fading, and stretching can be well-protected with the permanent press cycle.

If you come across a piece of clothing labeled ‘permanent press,’ don’t fret. It simply means that with correct washing and drying, the clothing will maintain a low amount of wrinkles – the more reason to know how to use the perm press cycle. Clothing designed to resist wrinkles is frequently composed of synthetic materials or specifically treated as wrinkle-resistant.

In washing machines, a permanent press cycle can help eliminate or decrease wrinkles by releasing existing wrinkles using warm water and shorter spin cycles. To prevent wrinkles and creasing, dryer cycles employ medium heat followed by a cooling phase.

Fabrics made with synthetic fibers, such as polyester, nylon, acrylic, rayon, or knitwear, are best laundered using the permanent press cycle; fabrics made from a combination of synthetic and natural fibers will also do nicely with the perm press cycle. You should, however, not use the permanent press setting on delicate materials like lace, cashmere, or silk.

What Permanent Press Is Not

Permanent press is not a magical process for eliminating every last one of the wrinkles on your clothes. The majority of visible creases in a load of laundry will be smoothed out by the permanent press wash or dry cycle, but not necessarily all of them, so you may still need to put a finishing touch to some of the clothing by manually ironing them. 

What Does Permanent Press Cycle Mean On a Dryer?

You will also find the ‘perm press’ symbol on most dryers these days. This simply means that the dryer will automatically select a gentler drying cycle using medium heat, significantly reducing the chances of wrinkles forming on the clothing. 

For more efficiency in the permanent press cycle, some manufacturers include a cool-down period that automatically transitions the temperature in the dryer gradually from hot to cool temperature, preventing creases and shrinking as the clothing cools down. 

Should I Wash My Clothes On Permanent Press?

If you’ve been skipping using the permanent press function, we’re afraid you’ve missed out on free anti-crease laundering. To avoid undesirable creases, you should wash most synthetic, semi-synthetic, or blend fabrics using the perm press cycle. By washing with the permanent press cycle, you significantly reduce the need for manual ironing, only doing so when you need your clothes to be extra crisp.

Additionally, the cycle retains the color and condition of your clothing while extending its useful life because it is gentler on laundry than a Regular wash cycle. However, certain fabrics respond better to the setting than others; you may have to find out by hands-on experience. 

What Is the Difference Between Permanent Press and Delicate Cycle?

The permanent press cycle handles your clothing gentler than a normal cycle (in washing and drying machines). This is also ideal for avoiding unwanted creases on your garment during the entire laundry process. However, some clothes are so delicate they require an even more delicate cycle – aptly named ‘delicate cycle‘.

Clothing made from lace, wool, or loosely knitted fabrics should be laundered using the delicate cycle; this would go a long way in preserving their texture and color. As always, check the care label to know specific settings to use.

The two cycles use different spin mechanisms as well. Clothing washed on a permanent press will experience a hybrid agitation process (moderate speed, then low speed), whereas the delicate cycle will only experience slow agitation during the entire process.

The last distinction is in temperature that is applied during the washing and drying cycle. A delicate cycle employs low-temperature water and air to prevent the fraying of delicate materials as opposed to a permanent press cycle, which uses medium-temperature water and air.

What Are the Benefits of Using Permanent Press Cycles?

In general, using your washer or dryer’s permanent press cycle helps prevent wrinkling on delicate items that may happen during normal washing or drying cycles. Permanent press settings are kinder on clothing because they lessen the stress on the fibers by switching some dryers from warm to room temperature air toward the end of the cycle.

Perm Wash Cycle in washing machines uses lower temperatures to ensure that the colors of your clothing don’t bleed. The gentler spin cycle ensures that new wrinkles don’t form on the garments. Most importantly, using cold water is cost-effective because the washer doesn’t need to heat water for the cycle – which means more savings on electricity.

The benefits of perm press in dryers are also similar to washers: fewer wrinkles, less shrinkage, and most savings on electricity. 

How Should You Use the Permanent Press Cycle?

Sort your garments according to their color and recommended care. Load your laundry detergent of choice with your permanent press clothes. After choosing the permanent press option, let it run its course, then remove your clothing as soon as the cycle is finished. Resist the urge to leave your damp laundry for too long in the washer drum after the cycle completes; wrinkles will set in.

After that, load the damp clothes into the dryer and select the perm press option again. For ‘non-wrinkle’ clothing, hang them out to dry outside instead of in a dryer. 

When Not to Use the Permanent Press Cycle?

Your washer and dryer’s permanent press cycle is a great feature for washing and drying delicate items gently, ensuring they come out without bleeding color, shrinking, or looking wrinkled. But some clothing call for a perm press cycle, while others are better off washed using the normal settings. Here are 4 situations where the perm press cycle should never be used: 

  • When drying or washing bulky items like towels, sheets, or jeans
  • When washing delicate clothes meant to be washed using the delicate cycle. 
  • Really dirty loads.
  • Whites and other clothing need to be hot-washed or sanitized.

Is the Permanent Press Cycle Good For Delicates?

No, delicate clothing should be cleaned on the delicate cycle even if the permanent press cycle is kinder than the standard cycle and is best for some types of clothing.

The lifespan of your wardrobe will be significantly extended if you properly sort your laundry by color and washing methods that correspond to your washer settings (that’s why it’s important to read all of the labels). This will ensure that you always look your best.

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