Permanent press

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Permanent press is the term given to a characteristic of fabric that has been chemically processed to resist wrinkles and hold its shape. Alternative terms include wrinkle resistant, wash and wear, no-iron, durable press, and easy care. This treatment has a lasting effect on the fabric.[1]


The crosslinking agents that result in the permanent press finish are often derivatives of urea. Popular crosslinkers include DMDHEU (dimethylol dihydroxyethyleneurea) and DMEU (dimethylol ethylene urea).[2]

The permanent press effect arises from crosslinking of molecules of cellulose by chemical agents such as DMDHEU.


Advances in producing permanent press fabrics involved a series of agents that crosslink the cellulose-based fibers that comprise most clothing. Initial agents included formaldehyde. Starting in the 1940s, a series of urea-formaldehyde derivatives were introduced. Technical issues overcome included yellowing, odor, and the tendency of some agents to accelerate the degradation of fabrics by bleaches.[3][4] In 1953, Brooks Brothers manufactured wash-and-wear shirts using a blend of Dacron, polyester, and a wrinkle free cotton that was invented by Ruth R. Benerito, which they called "Brooksweave".

The technology advanced especially rapidly in the early 1990s.[1][5]

In older washing machines, the permanent press setting sprays moisture during the spin cycle to maintain the moisture content of the permanent press fabrics above a certain specified limit to reduce wrinkling.[6] Most older clothes dryers feature an automatic permanent press setting, which puts clothes through a cool-down cycle at the end of the normal heated drying cycle. Modern dryers tend to include this as a standard feature.


  1. ^ a b Andrew Pollack (1993-12-29). "BUSINESS TECHNOLOGY; A Dream Unfolds for Cotton Shirts - The". New York Times. Retrieved 2019-04-30.
  2. ^ Klaus Fischer et al. "Textile Auxiliaries" in Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry 2002, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim. doi:10.1002/14356007.a26_227
  3. ^ "Chemistry and nanotech work to make carefree clothing". Usatoday.Com. 2004-12-31. Retrieved 2019-04-30.
  4. ^ The development of DMDHEU is described in this news report: Helmenstine, Anne Marie; sciences, Ph D. Dr Helmenstine holds a Ph D. in biomedical; Writer, Is a Science; educator; school, consultant She has taught science courses at the high; college; Levels, Graduate. "Do You Know Why Clothes Wrinkle?". ThoughtCo. Retrieved 2019-04-30.
  5. ^ "The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 2019-04-30.
  6. ^ "Permanent press cycle for automatic washer - Whirlpool Corporation". Retrieved 2019-04-30.