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Permanent press

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Title: Permanent press  
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Subject: Ironing, Koret Foundation, Ruth R. Benerito, Uniform and insignia of the Boy Scouts of America, Fabrics
Collection: American Inventions, Fabrics
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Permanent press

A permanent press is 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.[5][6]

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.[7] 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. ^
  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. ^
  4. ^ The development of DMDHEU is described in this news report:
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  6. ^
  7. ^
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