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Learn How and When to Use the Permanent Press Cycle

by Olly Mason

We’ve all been guilty of washing or drying our clothes on normal cycle believing the cycle to be a one-all fit for all our garments. The truth is; however, knowing how to wash and dry your clothes on the right cycle helps to keep your favorite articles looking new, while delivering an effective wash or dry.

You may have read our guide on how to buy laundry appliances, but now we’re diving into the lesser-known laundry secrets by explaining the advantages of using the permanent press cycle. What is the permanent press setting and how can it help to increase the lifespan of my fabrics? Find out as we answer this list of frequently asked questions about the permanent press cycle.

 woman in burgundy shirt and jeans taking clothes our of front load washer

What does permanent press mean?

Originally, clothes that had been chemically treated to better resist wrinkling and folds were referred to as permanently pressed. Due to the technique’s rise in popularity during the ‘50s, washers and dryers had begun to include a special cycle for these types of clothes.

Nowadays, the permanent press cycle is a staple on washers and dryers, and a great way to protect clothes that are prone to wrinkling, color-fading, shrinking, and stretching.

What is the permanent press cycle on my washer?

Sometimes referred to as the casual or wrinkle control cycle, a permanent press washing machine cycle uses a combination of warm water during the wash and cold water during the rinse. Typically, a permanent press cycle averages around 30 minutes with gentler agitation compared to a normal or heavy-duty wash cycle.

Additionally, the final spin cycle is slower, which helps to keep the weight of the wet clothes from pressing onto each other, largely reducing the chance of wrinkles.

What is the permanent press cycle on my dryer?

The permanent press dryer cycle uses medium heat, which is gentler of clothes, thereby reducing the chance of wrinkles forming and setting.

Depending on the brand and model, some permanent press dryer cycles may include a cool down period, which helps to gradually transition clothes from a warm temperature to cool temperature, since clothes that are dried at high temperatures and then folded tend to retain creasing. 

This gentle transition from warm to cool also helps reduce the chance of clothes shrinking.

woman in pink plaid button up holding blue pinstripe button up shirt from yellow laundry basket

What are the benefits of using permanent press?

Overall, using the permanent press cycle on your washer or dryer helps to combat wrinkling on delicate clothing that may occur during wash cycles.

Benefits of permanent press wash cycle:

  • A warm wash temperature helps to keep your clothes from fading
  • The slower spin cycle helps prevent new wrinkles from forming
  • The cold-water rinse is cost-efficient
  • The quick washing time helps reduce pilling on clothes

Benefits of a permanent press dry cycle:

  • Drying with warm air is less harmful to clothes than hot air
  • Less chance of clothes shrinking
  • Permanent drying cycles with cool down function do not run hot air during the last phase, reducing cost and increasing energy efficiency

Shot of person in wrinkled blue pinstripe button up shirt

When should I use the permanent press cycle?

The permanent press cycle on your washer and dryer is a versatile option, providing a gentle wash or dry that protects clothing from shrinking, fading, and creases. However, the gentleness can be ineffective on some loads, and harmful to others. Consider the following.

When to use the permanent press cycle:

  • When the tag calls for permanent press (also referred to as tumble dry)
  • On synthetic fabrics, including rayon, nylon, spandex, and polyester
  • Clothes that cannot be ironed
  • For brightly colored clothes (not including whites)
  • Moderately soiled loads

When not to use the permanent press cycle:

  • When washing or drying heavy-duty clothes, such as towels, bedding, or jeans
  • On particularly delicate clothing intended for a delicate cycle
  • Heavily soiled loads
  • Clothes that require hot washes, such as whites or items that require sanitization

What are the differences between the permanent press and delicate cycle?

While the permanent press function on your washer or dryer is gentle, some items such as lace, wools, or loosely knitted materials require even more gentle washing and drying. Typically, such items are recommended to wash and dry using the delicate cycle; as always, the clothing label will indicate which option to use.

The two also differ when it comes to the temperature used during a wash and dry. Whereas a permanent press cycle uses medium-temperature water and air, a delicate cycle uses low-temp water and air to ensure fragile fabrics don’t fray.

Additionally, the spin mechanics will differ between the two. While clothes washed on permanent press will go through a hybrid agitation process—moderate speed, then low speed—clothes washed on delicate will be exclusively slow throughout the whole cycle.

What are the differences between the permanent press and normal cycle?

As the name implies, normal wash and dry cycles (also known as regular or heavy, depending on brand and models) are intended for everyday fabrics and clothing that don’t require the same special attention as permanent-press garments.

A normal wash cycle uses fast agitation and a hot wash temperature between 120 and 140 degrees to help get messes out of items that are subject to everyday, normal wear and use. A normal dryer cycle spins the fastest and runs the hottest temperatures during a regular cycle, making it a prime choice for whites or heavy loads that require sanitization.

On the other hand, the permanent press cycle is milder, heating wash temperatures between 85 and 105 degrees, while the tumble dry setting delivers softer tub spinning to keep folds and wrinkles from developing on clothes.

woman in pink tank top smiles as she hugs front loading washer

How Can I Find Laundry Appliance Savings Near Me?

By shopping at your local East Coast appliance! We’re Virginia’s leading Discount King and home of reliable washer and dryer brands that provide the performance you need to conquer laundry any day of the week. Whether you’re searching for a separate washer and dryer, a laundry pair, a stacked laundry unit, or even a washer/dryer combo, you can count on us for affordable laundry appliances! Browse, shop, and compare online or in-store today!