What is a Permanent Press Wash Cycle?

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Key Takeaways

  • A permanent press wash cycle uses warm water to wash and cold water to rinse clothes.
  • It is good for clothes that should not be ironed or are labeled permanent press.
  • The cycle is gentle to help prevent wrinkles and shrinking.
  • It uses a slow spin to reduce wrinkling.
  • The cycle protects clothes from fading and creases.

What Is a Permanent Press Cycle?

What is a Permanent Press Wash Cycle?

A permanent press wash cycle is a setting on washing machines that is gentler than normal wash cycles. The permanent press setting uses warm water when washing the clothes. Then it rinses the clothes with cold water. This cycle helps keep clothes looking neat. It helps prevent wrinkles and shrinking. It also helps protect bright colors from fading.

The permanent press cycle is good for clothes made of synthetic fabrics. Synthetic fabrics include polyester, nylon, spandex and rayon. These fabrics can wrinkle more easily than natural fabrics like cotton or wool. The permanent press cycle is also good for clothes labeled “permanent press.” These are clothes specially treated to resist wrinkles. Finally, permanent press is good for any clothes that should not be ironed. The cycle helps them stay neat without ironing.

Permanent press cycles have a slower, gentler spin at the end. Spinning squeezes out extra water at the end of the wash. A fast, strong spin can make clothes wrinkle. The permanent press spin is slower and more gentle. This helps prevent extra wrinkles in the clothes.

Why Use Permanent Press Cycles?

There are several benefits to using the permanent press wash cycle:

  • It helps prevent wrinkles and shrinking. The warm wash water loosens stains and dirt. The cold rinse water makes fibers contract smoothly to keep their shape. The slow spin also reduces wrinkling.
  • It protects bright colors from fading. Warm water can cause dyes to fade. The cold rinse keeps colors vibrant.
  • It is gentler for delicate fabrics. The cycle cleans well but is less harsh on clothes. This extends the life of items.
  • It maintains a neat appearance. Clothes look orderly and crisp after the permanent press cycle. There is less need for ironing.
  • It works well for synthetic fabrics. These fabrics wrinkle more easily on normal cycles. The permanent press cycle is tailored for their care.

Using this cycle helps clothes maintain their fit, color and shape over many washings. It makes washing easier with fewer steps needed afterwards. For clothes prone to wrinkling, the permanent press cycle is the top choice.

How Does a Permanent Press Cycle Work?

Permanent press cycles have a few key steps that differentiate them from regular wash cycles:

What is a Permanent Press Wash Cycle?
  • Warm wash water – The cycle begins with warm water around 105°F to 115°F. This helps loosen dirt and stains from fabric fibers.
  • Slow, short agitation – The clothes are moved around slowly in the warm water for a shorter time than normal cycles. This provides cleaning with less friction.
  • Cold rinse – After washing, cold water of around 60°F is used for the rinse. This causes fibers to contract which makes wrinkles fall out.
  • Slow spin – The final spin that extracts water is slowed down. This gentle spin prevents extra wrinkling of the fabrics.
  • Cool-down period – Some machines have a cool-down pause before unloading. This helps lock in the wrinkle-free shape of items.

These steps give a thorough but gentle clean. They require less handling of clothes afterwards to maintain their crisp look. Permanent press cycles may take 10-15 minutes longer than regular cycles. But they greatly reduce the need for ironing.

What Fabrics Should Use Permanent Press Cycles?

Certain fabrics benefit most from permanent press wash cycles:

What is a Permanent Press Wash Cycle?
  • Synthetic fibers – These include polyester, nylon, rayon and spandex blends. They wrinkle easily.
  • Permanent press fabrics – Clothes labeled permanent press have special coatings to reduce wrinkling.
  • Delicates – Fragile items prone to shrinking like lingerie and dresses. The cycle is gentle on them.
  • Brightly colored clothes – The cold rinse helps dyes stay vibrant and resist running.
  • Items requiring gentle care – The cycle is also good for baby clothes, gym clothes, uniforms and other items needing a mild wash.

Check garment tags for any washing instructions as some may have special requirements. For everyday wrinkle-prone loads, the permanent press cycle is usually recommended.

Are There Any Downsides to Permanent Press Cycles?

The permanent press cycle has many advantages. But there are a couple potential downsides:

  • Takes longer – The total cycle time is usually 10-15 minutes more than a normal cycle.
  • May need extra cleaning – Heavily soiled clothes may require pretreating or extra washing on normal cycle. The permanent press cycle is more of a light-duty wash.
  • Not suitable for all fabrics – Some natural fabrics like linen and cotton can withstand normal wash cycles without wrinkling.
  • Requires color-sorting – Because of the cold rinse, clothes should be washed in similar colors to prevent running.
  • No heavy spin option – The spin is restricted on these cycles, so clothes come out more damp.

Most of these are minor issues or only apply in certain cases. Overall the benefits of the permanent press cycle outweigh the small downsides. For wrinkle-free washing of everyday clothes, it is an excellent choice.

What Are Some Alternatives to the Permanent Press Cycle?

There are a few other options that can help keep clothes neat besides the permanent press cycle:

  • Delicate cycle – This functions similar to permanent press but is even shorter and gentler.
  • Steam cycles – Some washers inject steam to relax wrinkles. This reduces the need for longer cycles.
  • Lower spin speeds – On regular cycles, lowering the spin speed reduces wrinkling.
  • Natural fabric softeners – Vinegar and fabric softener sheets help release wrinkles for cottons and linens.
  • Hang drying – Line or rack drying prevents heat damage from dryers. Gravity stretches items smooth.
  • Ironing – For sturdy cottons and linens, ironing is an effective alternative for neatening.

However for most wrinkle-prone everyday loads, the permanent press cycle offers the easiest no-iron solution. It provides an optimal balance of effective cleaning power with gentle fabric care.

What Are Some Tips for Using Permanent Press Cycles Effectively?

Here are some tips to get the best results from permanent press wash cycles:

  • Check labels to ensure clothes can be washed on permanent press cycles.
  • Sort clothes by color to prevent dyes from bleeding in the cold water rinse.
  • Pretreat any stubborn stains so the cycle can focus on gentle cleaning.
  • Load the washer loosely and evenly. Overcrowding causes wrinkling.
  • Use a liquid fabric softener or softener sheets to add extra softness.
  • Shake clothes out and hang or fold promptly after the cycle finishes.
  • Use an in-dryer anti-wrinkle spray if needed as a finishing touch.
  • Allow 10-15 extra minutes per load for the longer cycle time.
  • Clean the washer periodically to keep it fresh and residue-free.

Following these tips will allow you to take full advantage of the benefits of permanent press cycles. Your clothes will come out looking neat, crisp and ready to wear without ironing.

Frequently Asked Questions About Permanent Press Cycles

Here are answers to some common questions about permanent press wash cycles:

What is the difference between permanent press and a delicate cycle?

The permanent press cycle uses a warm wash and cold rinse, while the delicate cycle is an overall cooler, shorter wash. Delicate is designed for fragile items and permanent press for wrinkle-free washing.

Can I use fabric softener on permanent press?

Yes, liquid fabric softener or sheets are recommended to increase softness and reduce static on permanent press cycles. Avoid overuse as it may leave residue.

Why does permanent press use warm water instead of hot?

Hot water can cause wrinkling or shrinking in synthetic fibers. Warm water provides cleaning power without the hot temperature risks.

How full should I load the washer for permanent press?

Load it loosely about halfway full. Overcrowding causes wrinkling, while too few items can lead to an off-balance wash.

Can I wash cottons or linens on permanent press?

Yes, it is fine for some natural fabrics prone to wrinkling. But very sturdy items may do fine on normal cycles. Check labels.

How often should I run a wash cycle to clean the washer itself?

Every 30 cycles, run a hot wash on the longest cycle with bleach or other washer cleaner to keep the machine fresh.

Why does permanent press take longer than normal cycles?

The warm wash, cold rinse and slow spin add time to be gentler on fabrics. But it reduces time ironing later.

Is permanent press a good cycle for kids’ clothes?

Yes, it’s great for keeping their clothes neat. Just check labels first and pretreat any tough stains they may have.

What wash temperature does permanent press use?

It uses a warm 105°F-115°F wash and cold 60°F rinse. The mix provides gentleness along with cleaning.


The permanent press wash cycle offers an easy way to keep clothes neat and crisp without the need for ironing. It uses a specialized warm wash and cold rinse process tailored for wrinkle-free results. The cycle also helps protect bright colors and delicate fabrics. While it takes a bit more time, it can save time later on ironing. With some detergent and softener, the permanent press cycle keeps clothes looking their best. Following the instructions for your fabrics will provide effective, wrinkle-free washes

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