Clothing Wrinkles: How to Avoid and Remove Them While Traveling.
Packing Tips

How to Avoid and Remove Clothing Wrinkles While Traveling

You pick out some killer outfits, pack them with care, and yet after a long stint in a suitcase, they’re still a wrinkled mess. How can you possibly look put-together on the road? It doesn’t help that in-room irons and ironing boards no longer come standard in some destinations due to fire safety hazards. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to prevent your clothes from getting wrinkled, and just as many emergency hacks to get rid of pesky creases quickly and easily. Follow these tips to keep your clothes wrinkle-free on your next trip.

Preventative Measures: How to Pack to Avoid Wrinkles

Woman packing a suitcase.

Opt for clothes in wrinkle-resistant materials

In general, synthetic fabrics tend to resist wrinkles better than natural materials, primarily because they don’t absorb water as quickly as cottons and linens, which also means they dry faster. The flipside of this is that some of these fabrics can get a bit clingy and overbearing in hot, humid countries. If you plan to be doing a lot of outdoor activities or are traveling in the tropics, opt for athletic, yoga, and outdoor clothing brands that often use materials that are both lightweight and wrinkle-resistant.

Smooth wrinkles out of clothes before you pack them

If your clothes are already wrinkly when you pack them, a long stint in a suitcase isn’t going to do them any favors. Iron wrinkled clothing before you pack them. (If you use a steam setting, double-check your clothes are bone-dry before they go in your bags.)

Roll clothing instead of folding in your suitcase

While it would seem logical to fold your clothes into the kind of ready-for-retail rectangles that would make Marie Kondo proud, it’s a sure-fire way to arrive in your destination with a bag full of wrinkly clothes. Instead, fold each item lengthwise, roll it into a tight cylinder, and then snugly pack the rolls together.

Use tissue paper to wrap silks and delicates

Ever notice how lingerie shops and high-end boutiques wrap garments in tissue paper? While this is certainly part of the presentation, there’s a utilitarian function, too. Delicates—particularly silks—often get wrinkled by rubbing against similar items, and tissue paper makes a great buffer. When packing your delicate items, make sure to wrap them in tissue paper before you roll.

Pack special items in a garment bag

Once you have your clothes in neat little bundles, Tetris-pack them into a packing cube (or a gargantuan Ziploc-style bag that you can later push the air out of). Not only will your clothes make it to the other side with fewer wrinkles, but you’ll also be able to maximize your use of space. (Pro tip: start with bigger garments first, then fill gaps with socks and other smaller items.)

Pack a mini-steamer

If you’ve got space, you can always bring a mini wrinkle steamer along with you. These little handheld devices just require access to a power outlet and a little water. If you’re traveling overseas, however, make sure to get a dual voltage steamer to avoid a fry-out.

Bring a mini wrinkle-remover spray

A smaller alternative to a travel steamer, wrinkle-remover sprays can be helpful in getting wrinkles out of some clothing, but the results vary. Our fave, The Laundress, is the best of the lot, in a lovely scent that won’t leave you smelling “Febreezed.” Most popular brands come in mini travel-size bottles, ideal if you’re only packing a carry-on and need to get through TSA checks.

How to Deal With Wrinkles While on the Road

Clothing folded on a bed.

Hang clothing once you arrive

While it may be tempting to put unpacking off until the day after you arrive, taking a few minutes to hang up the most wrinkle-prone items in your suitcase will at least keep wrinkles from getting worse, and can often help fabrics fall into a natural draping shape.

Hang in steamy bathroom while showering

Perhaps the easiest way to deal with wrinkles on the road is by hanging your garments up in the bathroom and then hopping into a hot, steamy shower. Make sure to keep the windows closed, the exhaust fan off, and the water hot: The idea is to turn your bathroom into a makeshift steam room. While this method doesn’t work as well for major creases, it will definitely help make fabrics look less crinkly.

Press between damp towels

If you don’t have time to take a long shower, you can also use a damp towel or two to get wrinkles out fast. For spot treatments, sometimes all it takes is a quick dab; for more serious creases, you may want to press your garment between two lightly moistened towels. If you have a way to pull the fabric taut, even better (sometimes a book on each end is all you need). And if your clothes get too wet, simply give them a quick blast of air with your hairdryer and you’ll be good to go.

Steam with tea kettle

If you didn’t pack a steamer, your hotel room’s electric tea kettle makes for a pretty good alternative source of steam. Just heat water to a boil and then angle the steam through the nozzle toward your garment. For maximum effect, you can open the lid and use a magazine or something similar in size and sturdiness to waft the steam toward your garment (just be careful not to burn your hand).

Flat-iron collars or cuffs with hair straightener

If you’ve got a bent collar or cuff that needs straightening out, a quick one-over with your flat-iron may be just the ticket. If you have a hair straightener with an adjustable temperature setting, start low and work your way up; like hair, clothes can easily be scorched with overzealous flat-ironing.

 

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