Polyester has been both loved and mocked since being created by British chemists in 1941. In 1951, it was introduced to the American fabric industry as "a miracle fibre that can be worn for 68 days straight without ironing, and still look presentable!" Among the leading types of wrinkle-resistant fabrics, polyester has been the darling of the uniform industry and has been scorned by environmentalists. What if your polyester does have wrinkles? How do you get them out?
What Is Polyester?
It is a man-made fabric that's essentially created from polymers or resin. In essence, it is a kind of plastic. It's this unique construction that makes it so forgiving to dirt and wrinkles and is why it became so popular as a uniform material.
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Avoiding Wrinkles in Polyester
Laundering polyester according to its maker's suggestions is the best way to get wrinkles out of polyester – by avoiding them in the first place. The dryer is where most of that magic happens. The permanent press or permapress setting is basically for polyester fabrics. It starts drying on warm and then becomes cool. The warm air dries the garments, but the cool air "sets" the garment, so it resists wrinkles.
The important part is to remove the items before the dryer cycle ends. Wrinkles happen once the dryer stops and everything is sitting there. So, have some hangers handy, and when you remove the items from the dryer, hang them immediately. It's OK and maybe even desirable if they're still a little bit damp because they will soon dry wrinkle free.
When Wrinkles Persist in Polyester
For whatever reason, sometimes polyester simply gets wrinkled. Maybe it's been packed in a bag for too long or it fell behind a chair, but when polyester is clumped up or crinkled over time, eventually its wrinkle resistance gets compromised. When that happens, it is OK to iron polyester, but the iron temperature settings are critical to avoid burning or even melting the fabric. Steaming is a better option, as it's safer for the fabric.
How to Iron Polyester
The trouble with ironing polyester is that it's basically made of plastic and will melt if an iron is too hot. It gets burn marks very easily too. It's best to play it safe with polyester and not subject it to direct heat. If you put another fabric over it, you can use a higher heat, and the wrinkles should come out.
Proceed cautiously by turning the garment or fabric inside out and ironing its backside. Have a spritz bottle of water nearby to lightly dampen the fabric and have a light, thin cotton sheet of some kind to lay over the polyester. With the iron in steam mode, do slow and firm movements over the cotton-covered polyester to smooth out wrinkles. Never let the iron sit in one spot, lest it burn either of the fabrics.
How to Steam Polyester
The safest move is to use a garment-steaming appliance to get the wrinkles out of polyester. Simply hang the item on a hanger and run the steamer over it. Gently tug here or there once the garment is steamed to smooth out the fabric. Be careful so you don't stretch or misshape the item.