What Does the Permanent Press Cycle Do?

23 Jan, 2017

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Ask the average person, aside from the most knowledgeable or experienced of laundry enthusiasts, what is the Permanent Press cycle on their washer, and you’re likely to receive a blank stare in return. We’ve all seen it, we’ve all wanted to use it, but most of us have been afraid to do so because very few seem to know what it will actually do to our clothes. Is Permanent Press a real setting or just a funny gag played on the public by manufacturers? Are the results reversible, or are they, well, permanent?

After a little investigative research, it turns out not only is Permanent Press a real thing, you should probably be using it more often than you think.

Before discussing this mysterious cycle, let’s first understand the basics of a washing machine. Every cycle can be broken down into three parts:

  • The temperature of the water
  • The washing (agitation) speed
  • The speed at which the machine spins to remove the water from your clothing.

Different variations of those three factors create the different cycles you’ll find on your washing machine.

The Temperature

This is the easiest aspect to understand. Set your machine to hot and you’ll wash your clothes in hot water. Use cold to get cold water, and warm for, you guessed it, warm water.

  • Hot water gets clothes the cleanest, removes stains easiest, and can disinfect heavily soiled materials. It’s also the hardest on your clothes and can fade colors. Best use is for whites and really dirty clothing.
  • Cold is your go-to for dark fabrics, delicate fabrics, swimsuits, active wear and lingerie. It will also help keep clothes from shrinking.
  • Warm is right there in the middle. It does some of what cold and hot do, but not as good as either. It’s your safe bet – perfect for jeans, towels, cottons and sheets.

The Speed

Both the wash and spin cycle speeds are broken down into fast and slow.

  • A Fast wash will agitate your clothes more quickly, removing more stains, but can also be harder on your clothing.
  • The Slow setting does the exact opposite; it’s easier on clothing but not as aggressive at removing stains.

Spin speed works the same way; Slow can help keep wrinkles from setting and is easier on clothing, but doesn’t remove as much moisture from the fabric.

Wash Cycles

Now that you get the basics, we can circle back around to wash cycles. Each cycle is designed to use different combinations of the three basic functions.

Normal Cycle: This is likely the one you use most often, which is probably why it’s called Normal. Normal uses a Fast wash, heavy agitation, a Fast spin, and can be set at any temperature. This is the one you want to use on heavily soiled garments, whites, jeans, towels, and bedding. Linen and cotton fabrics work well with this cycle.

Delicate Cycle: This is on the far end of the spectrum. It uses a Slow wash, low agitation, cold water, and a Slow spin cycle. This is for lingerie, sheer fabrics and loosely woven or crotchet items. This cycle puts a lot less wear on your clothing, but it also doesn’t get them as clean.

And now the one you’ve been waiting for…

What does permanent press cycle mean?

What is the Permanent Press cycle? This cycle uses a mixture of the other two, a Fast wash but a Slow spin. In a way, it gives you the benefits of both Normal and Delicate cycles. The Fast wash gets your clothing clean while the Slow spin helps avoid wrinkles and excessive wear and tear. Though most garments (other than the most delicate) can be washed using Permanent Press, it’s best for knits, polyesters, fabrics that “pill” and wrinkle resistant (no-iron, wash and wear) clothing.

Now that the cloak of mystery has been lifted from the feature of your washer, feel safe in knowing the proper way to use it. Your clothes will thank you.

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