More than 60% of all retail clothing contains polyester, meaning that your closet probably holds a lot of this modern textile! The good news is that this fabric has natural wrinkle resistance because of its synthetic fibers. Despite this, you will occasionally need to know how to get wrinkles out of polyester.
The best ways to get wrinkles out of polyester are to steam the fabric or place it in the dryer on a permanent press setting. Ironing it on a low-heat setting can also remove wrinkles. The synthetic fibers in this material can melt or scorch when exposed to high heat, so special care must be taken when exposing this fabric to iron.
In this article, you’ll learn the top three methods to smooth away wrinkles in polyester. You’ll also find out what techniques do not work. Finally, you’ll get some tips for how to handle tricky items like curtains and flags.
Does 100% Polyester Wrinkle?
One-hundred-percent polyester has excellent wrinkle resistance because of its synthetic fibers. Manufacturers often blend it with other natural fibers to create less wrinkly garments that require little care and work well for traveling. That said, this material can wrinkle under certain circumstances.
Invented in the 1940s as part of the war effort, polyester didn’t gain traction until the 1970s, when changing fashions began to embrace this versatile and affordable synthetic. Since then, textile sciences have developed in leaps and bounds, allowing garment manufacturers to use this synthetic in all kinds of innovative ways.
Because it is derived from petroleum by-products, polyester fibers are plastic. You may think of all-natural fabrics like cotton and silk as more classy than man-made fabrics. But polyester became popular because of its easy care as well as its affordability.
Unlike natural materials, this cloth has strong, durable fibers that hold their shape even in tough circumstances like getting crammed into a suitcase. Many uniforms for sports teams and military units use this fabric because it requires so little care to look nice.
One easy way to find out if a garment is made from 100% polyester while you’re shopping is to grab a handful of the cloth, scrunch it up in your hand, and then check to see if it holds any wrinkles when you let go. If it’s 100% polyester, it should unscrunch without any creases in sight!
So, what will cause polyester to wrinkle? Generally speaking, it will wrinkle under two circumstances.
First, manufacturers often combine polyester and other kinds of materials to create blended fabrics. The synthetic fibers will still provide a good bit of wrinkle resistance, but blended materials like polycotton will wrinkle more easily.
Second, under some conditions, the fibers in polyester can be convinced that a new shape (such as a wrinkle) is the shape they should hold. This is how pleats and other shapes get heat-set into garments like pleated skirts. Sometimes the heat in a dryer or a couple of hours of sitting on top of a skirt on a really hot day may heat-set wrinkles into your polyester garment.
Ultimately, while polyester avoids wrinkling better than almost any other material, no fabric can completely avoid creases!
This is why you need a few useful methods for removing wrinkles from polyester.
How to Get Wrinkles Out of Polyester
Here are three easy methods to remove wrinkles from polyester. Most of the time, you can shake out a polyester garment and it will look fresh, wrinkle-free, and ready to wear. For those times when that doesn’t work, try these methods!
As a note of caution, you should always check the manufacturer’s label inside your garment before you attempt any care or cleaning. Polyester usually has easy care options like machine washing, but a few special garments might require dry cleaning.
The Steamer Method
Using a hand-held steamer is the safest and easiest way to get creases out of polyester. If you don’t own a steamer, you can also use the steam setting on your iron, though this process requires a little extra care.
1. Turn your garment inside out and hang it on your shower curtain rod or a towel hook on the back of your bathroom door.
2. Fill your steamer and allow it to heat up till a light cloud of steam emerges from its nozzle.
3. Hold the steamer so the nozzle remains at least an inch away from your garment, and move it slowly up and down. You may need to gently tug on the hem of the garment as you go or hold out a sleeve or pant leg to make sure all areas of the fabric get exposed to the steam.
4. As you work, make sure you do not place your skin in the way of the steam! Also, though it should go without saying, never try to steam a garment while wearing it!
5. If you don’t have a steamer, you can arrange your garment on an ironing board or a folded towel, though this doesn’t work quite as well. Then simply hold the iron a couple of inches away from the garment and set it to its steam setting.
The Dryer Method
Dryers have a bit of a love-hate relationship with polyester. Indeed, polyester fabric can melt, twist, or scorch when exposed to high heat. That said, the permanent press setting on most modern dryers was invented specifically for these synthetic fabrics!
This special setting does a great job preventing creases from forming, and it can also work as a rescue method to remove stubborn wrinkles in your clothing.
How does this work? Your dryer alternates mild heat and cool-down periods. The fluctuating temperature avoids the intense heat that can set wrinkles into synthetic fabrics. Some dryers may even call this setting the “wrinkle control” setting!
Even normal dryer settings won’t often do any harm. Polyester will almost never shrink in the dryer, unlike cotton or other natural fabrics that easily absorb moisture. But for wrinkle control, you should use the special synthetics setting.
1. Turn your clothes inside out before you begin.
2. Wash your garment following the instructions on the manufacturer’s label. If in doubt, use cold water or the permanent press setting on your washing machine.
3. As a nice touch, include fabric softener, if you have it. This will help your clothes avoid static electricity in the dryer.
4. Keep an eye on your washing machine and remove the garment as soon as the cycle ends. Leaving your clothes balled up in the wet washer is a recipe for wrinkles.
5. Set your dryer to either the PP, Delicates or just the lowest heat setting. Once again, remove your clothes as soon as the cycle ends.
6. Immediately hang up the garment to avoid creating new creases while it is still warm!
The Iron Method
You can safely iron polyester, but it’s a tricky process because high heat can damage or melt the synthetic fibers. Because of this, ironing should probably be your last resort. If you’re in too much of a hurry to wash and dry your garment, and you don’t have a steamer, follow these steps to safely iron polyester.
1. Turn your garment inside out before you begin.
2. Set your iron to its lowest temperature. Some irons may have a special “synthetics” setting. That will also work!
3. While your iron warms, set up your workspace. Arrange your clothing on an ironing board, so it is neatly smoothed out and presents a flat surface for the iron. For example, if you need to iron a dress shirt, you could start with one sleeve laid flat across the ironing board. If you need to iron a dress or dress pants, arrange one panel of the skirt flat on the board, or smooth out one pant leg at a time on the ironing board.
4. Use a spray bottle to dampen the flattened section of your garment.
5. Lay a pressing cloth flat over this smoothed-out section of your garment. If you don’t own one, you can use a tea towel (the kind of kitchen towel that does not have a fuzzy side).
6. Finally, run the iron over the protective cloth, moving back and forth smoothly to avoid resting the hot plate of the iron on any area.
If you follow these steps, you should have a freshly pressed garment ready to wear in just a few minutes! However, if disaster strikes and your iron does melt your clothing, you can always clean your iron with a paste of baking soda and water. Just use a clean cloth to gently rub this mixture onto your still-warm iron, and the melted goop should come right off!
How to Hang Up Polyester Garments to Avoid Wrinkles
If you hang up your clothes with a bit of care, you may avoid getting any wrinkles in the first place! Here are a couple of tips to help with this process.
1. Make sure you place your clothing on a hanger immediately after ironing it or removing it from the dryer.
2. Don’t place your clothes in your closet while it is still warm or still damp.
3. Try to leave a little space between hangers. If your clothes are crushed together in the closet, wrinkles may set in.
4. While traveling, use a garment bag if you can. If not, carefully roll up or fold each item instead of just cramming it into your suitcase.
5. Finally, to avoid wrinkling clothes while wearing them, try not to wear your clothes while still damp or warm. Also, give your skirt or pants a discrete tug while you sit down or stand to smooth out any incipient wrinkles.
Does Wrinkle Release Work on Polyester?
Wrinkle-release products do not work on polyester because the plastic fibers in this synthetic fabric do not easily absorb moisture. These products function best on natural materials like cotton, which do easily absorb liquids.
That said, you can try using wrinkle-release products on some blended fabrics. Polycotton that contains more than 60% cotton in the blend might react well with this product.
In general, 100% polyester reacts to heat. Heat sets it into its original shape, and gentle heat can also uncrease it. Of course, remember that extreme heat will also melt or damage synthetic materials, so try a hand-held steamer first, and use ironing as a last resort!
How to Get Wrinkles Out of Polyester Blends
Some polyester blends require extra to remove wrinkles. Many retailers take advantage of the durability of synthetic fibers by combining them with natural fibers, like cotton. Merging multiple types of fibers into one material creates a blended fabric.
Here’s a quick look at some tips for getting wrinkles out of poly blends.
Polyester satin often contains a blend like polyester and acetate. The fibers are manufactured into a material that has one smooth, lustrous side and one rougher side. The key to getting creases out of this fabric is to always work on that rough side, not the smooth side.
- Turn your garment inside out so the lustrous, smooth part of the fabric will not touch the iron.
- Fill your iron with distilled water.
- Use the steam setting to steam the creased areas.
- Next, set your iron the lowest possible and run it directly or the rough side of the garment.
- If creases persist, repeat the steaming and ironing process.
Polyester and Spandex
Blending polyester and spandex creates an elastic, stretchy material that is super popular for everything from leggings to athletic shirts. Unfortunately, spandex can’t handle a lot of heat. The care label inside these clothes often suggests air drying instead of using a dryer.
Here are some tips for getting creases out of this blend.
- Try hanging up the soaking-wet garment to drip dry. Often, the weight of the water will pull out the creases as the fabric dries.
- Next, try using a hand-held steamer, but take care to keep the nozzle at least three or four inches away from the fabric.
- If that doesn’t work, you can try placing a very wet towel over the garment and ironing it over the wet towel.
Polyester Cotton Blend
Polycotton gives you the best of the wrinkle-free world! It retains a lot of wrinkle resistance but also reacts better to wrinkle-release products. Of course, because of its cotton content, it does also wrinkle a bit more easily in the first place.
To remove creases from polycotton, follow these steps:
- Try any of the three main methods described earlier. Steam will work especially well on polycotton because cotton absorbs moisture easily.
- You can try just hanging up the garment in the bathroom while you take a hot shower! Even this amount of steam should remove most of the creases from polycotton.
- If you choose to iron polycotton, do a really good job dampening it before you begin. This will ease the process.
- If the garment contains a higher percentage of cotton in the blend, you can try spraying it with a wrinkle-relaxing product for a quick fix.
Tips for Getting Wrinkles Out of Tough Polyester Items
While each of the methods described earlier will work on polyester, some tough items require a little extra effort. For example, anything really large like a tablecloth presents a bit of a challenge!
Most polyester curtains will hold their shape and avoid creasing forever while they hang at your windows. But sometimes they come with creases from the packaging, and you don’t want those creases to linger forever!
To remove wrinkles from curtains, you can try washing and drying them on a PP or Delicate setting. Be sure to get the curtains hung up at your windows as soon as they are dry.
Alternatively, if you have an outdoor clothesline, try hanging up the damp curtains with clothespins keeping them stretched taut on the line. This way, the creases should fall out as the fabric dries.
Finally, if you have a handheld steamer with a long cord, you can uncrease your curtains as they hang at your windows! Just run the steamer slowly over every inch of the material, taking care to keep the nozzle a couple of inches away from the surface of the curtains.
Like curtains, table cloths often arrive with creases from the packaging. Unlike curtains, they do not have built-in loops or hooks for hanging up. Despite that, you can pretty easily get creases out of tablecloths following these methods.
First, you can try washing and drying the tablecloth according to the dryer method described earlier.
If the creases persist, use a clothesline, a stair railing, or a curtain rod to hang up the tablecloth for three to four hours. Spray the fabric all over and allow it to dry while hanging.
If that fails, you can iron the tablecloth, though make sure you iron on the backside of the tablecloth. You should also use a protective cloth between your tablecloth and the iron and follow the ironing process listed above.
Getting creases out of a flag can prove tricky because not all flags are colorfast. This means the color might run if you get it wet.
To test this, run a cotton ball or cotton swab over the material, and see if any color smears onto the cotton.
Or see if you can find a label on the flag. This will give you care instructions to let you know if you can wash the flag.
If you can, wash it in cold water and hang it up to dry. This will likely remove all creases.
You can also use a steamer while hanging the flag over your shower curtain rod.
If you recently purchased a tapestry wall hanging, you might have noticed that it arrived with built-in creases. You don’t want to damage the woven design in your hanging, so you must proceed with caution!
To get the creases out, find somewhere you can hang it up so that it smooths out flat. Depending on the tapestry size, you can try using your shower curtain rod or a stair railing. Then use a handheld steamer to smooth out the wrinkles.
If you don’t own a steamer, you can try putting your dryer on its coolest setting and placing the tapestry inside with a wet washcloth for ten to twenty minutes. Make sure you hang the tapestry right away after removing it from the dryer.
The easiest way to remove wrinkles from polyester is to use a handheld steamer. You can also wash your clothing and then place it in the dryer on a permanent press setting. If you need to iron anything made of polyester, make sure you take precautions like using a pressing cloth and dampening the item first.
Which of these three methods have you tried? Did you successfully remove the creases? Leave a comment below to let us know!