Enough with the wrinkles
June 10, 2014 11:16 PM   Subscribe

I moved to a new place with in-unit washer and dryer a few months ago. Since I started using those machines, my button-down casual and dress shirts come out of the laundry extremely wrinkled. Jeans also end up wrinkled enough that they usually require ironing. I've almost never had to iron clothes in the past. Now I spend quite a bit of time ironing everything, and it's especially difficult and time-consuming because the wrinkles are so severe. How can I stop this from happening? Ideally I want to go back to those blissful days of not ironing at all. A few pertinent facts inside.

-These are front-loading, new-ish, high efficiency machines. In the past I used old, top-loading machines with no problems.
-I take the clothes out of the dryer and hang/iron immediately once they're done.
-I've experimented with medium-sized loads and small-sized loads. Very small size loads wrinkle slightly less, but are still quite wrinkly and require ironing. And we're talking 5 shirts for a very small load.
-I've experimented with different washer settings - currently have things going on delicate, low spin, cold water, light stains. That seems to help a little bit, but again, still wrinkly and needs ironing. Also tried different time settings for the dryer with little difference.
-Washer is an LG Direct Drive. Dryer is a Miele Novotronic made in Germany.
posted by naju to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (24 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Air dry shirts.
posted by pompomtom at 11:18 PM on June 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

Is the dryer running significantly hotter than the previous dryer you were using?
posted by scody at 11:21 PM on June 10, 2014

Response by poster: Is the dryer running significantly hotter than the previous dryer you were using?

posted by naju at 11:23 PM on June 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Are you shaking out your clothes when you take them out of the washer? The spin cycle will have creased them quite a bit. So shake them out to remove some of these creases before lightly placing them in the dryer. And consider using one of the less hot settings, perhaps one that leaves things slightly damp and then shake our your just a tiny bit damp shirts and hang them up to dry the rest of the way.
posted by koahiatamadl at 11:25 PM on June 10, 2014 [10 favorites]

In between the wash and dry cycles shake out the clothes and reposition them evenly before drying. Keep loads small.

Lastly, invest in a hand steamer! It will save your life!!
posted by jbenben at 11:30 PM on June 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah, if the dryer's running hotter, then essentially your shirts are drying too fast, before the wrinkles can drop out. Try the technique koahiatamadl suggests.
posted by scody at 11:44 PM on June 10, 2014 [5 favorites]

In addition to the wrinkle issue, drying too hot is really hard on your clothes. Drop the temperature and consider drying only partway and then hanging, or air dry.
posted by Nerd of the North at 11:59 PM on June 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Yeah, this dryer is running so hot that the load I just took out was painful to the touch and steaming, even. I just noticed a low temp setting so I'm gonna try that out. Also I'm going to take these clothes out while they're still damp and then hang them up, to see if that helps. Also good call on shaking out the clothes and placing them evenly, I haven't really been doing that.
posted by naju at 12:07 AM on June 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Many front-loading washers spin (or can spin) faster than the older top-loaders, which could be contributing to your wrinkling problem. But many of them have controls for spin speed as well. I'd suggest trying a lower spin setting, or even a delicate setting for your shirts, and see if that helps.

Also, lower settings on the dryer.

We just switched to front-loaders a few months ago, and are very happy with them, but almost never use the default settings. Ours are the cheapest end of the LG line and yet they have a ton of settings for wash temperature, spin speed, and dryer temperature.
posted by mr vino at 12:25 AM on June 11, 2014

Totally dryer temp on this one - a cooler dryer not only does better at keeping wrinkles at bay, it also makes your clothes last longer, and saves energy. It will take longer, though.
posted by Mizu at 1:05 AM on June 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Agree with previous posters re: lower temp, but a few dryer balls bouncing around in there to beat the wrinkles out of your shirts might also help. I like the kind made out of wool.
posted by hungrybruno at 4:16 AM on June 11, 2014 [6 favorites]

You can also throw in a damp rag with the dryer balls and your wrinkly shirt for about 5 minutes and it should steam the wrinkles out.
posted by quiet coyote at 4:51 AM on June 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding wool dryer balls. I made my own and they're perfect. Instructions here.
posted by Dragonness at 4:51 AM on June 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Definitely dryer balls. I like Nellies. I've had my set for 3 years now, and they show know signs of slowing down. Well worth the expense (trust me, I had a hard time getting over 20 dollar balls), and I couldn't be happier with the results.

You can also use tennis balls, but I opt not to because of my sensitivities to rubber products. In a high-high heat dryer, this may be more concerning. Maybe worth a try if you have a couple clean ones around though!
posted by Violet Femme at 6:00 AM on June 11, 2014

We have different spin settings on our front-loader washer - try setting yours to the slowest one, if available.
posted by rtha at 6:02 AM on June 11, 2014

I don't really have a technical solution (sounds like that's covered pretty thoroughly, upthread). Just some thoughts about shirt care and wrinkles.

I'm unsure of the "rules" for lady-persons, regarding drying/ironing shirts, but on a dude a somewhat rumpled button down is actually preferable (we're talking classic oxford cloth, button-collar, here; true dress shirts should still be ironed). Even when worn with a jacket and tie, these shirts look more confidently relaxed when allowed to wrinkle a little during the drying process. You'd still have to iron the dress shirts, but that could lessen your workload, anyway.

In the case of all-or-mostly-cotton shirts, drying can be harmful and shorten the life of the fabric. It can also shorten the garment, literally; cotton shrinks when heated. I wash all my non-T-shirts in cold water, then hang 'em to dry on the shower rod.

Jeans don't necessarily need to be heat-dried or ironed either, depending on their level of quality and their intended look/use. If they are the once-common/now-trendy-again, "selvedge" variety, you would typically dry them on your body, anyway. I don't over-dry even my "normal," Sanforized jeans much, anymore; like my button-collar shirts, I've come to like the character a few wrinkles adds. And they last longer.

Not to override your preferences, or anything. If you like to be all-around crisp, that's your gig. But you could save a lot of work (and potential damage) by cutting down on your heated drying and ironing.
posted by credible hulk at 6:05 AM on June 11, 2014

Fabric softener sheets might help, too.
posted by Carol Anne at 6:31 AM on June 11, 2014

After dropping the temperature, make sure your loads aren't too large, as that can have a serious effect on wrinkling. Also, if all else fails, you can just do the hotel trick: put your shirts on hangers, hang in bathroom, close door and run hot shower for a few minutes. Works like a charm.
posted by General Malaise at 6:35 AM on June 11, 2014

If there's a perm-press option on the dryer that usually uses medium heat.
posted by Wretch729 at 6:54 AM on June 11, 2014

Best answer: If your clothes are coming out of the dryer too hot to touch and steaming, check to see if your dryer has adequate circulation. I had the same problem, and it turned out that, over time, the dryer had slowly scooted all the way to the wall, compacting the dryer hose and cutting off the circulation, and so my clothes overheated and wouldn't dry completely. Pulling the dryer back out solved the problem. Make sure your dryer hasn't slowly inched its way to the wall over time.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:56 AM on June 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Using the dryer partway and then hang drying made a big difference. 5 of the 7 shirts I hang dried are good enough to wear without ironing.

Good point about circulation. The washer and dryer are tucked inside of a closet and it's possible there's been no circulation since I close the closet doors. Maybe just leaving those doors open could change things.
posted by naju at 9:18 AM on June 11, 2014

I came in to nth wool dryer balls. Except my washer/dryer combo is in a closet as well, and I keep losing the balls when I pull out my towels...the balls get caught in the folds and come tumbling out and roll behind the unit where I can't see or reach them. So there's that.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 11:02 AM on June 11, 2014

being tucked in a closet should have nothing to do with the circulation because all driers that I know of are connected via exhaust vent to the out-of-doors. They blow all the hot, damp air out of the machine into the outside world. If this drier is getting a lot hotter than your old drier, I would suspect that the pipe might be clogged.

When i moved to a new apartment i brought my washer/dryer and hooked them up. It turned out the dryer vent was positively clogged with old lint. You can buy a long brush to clean them out, but my maintenance man took a leaf blower and blew it out. That made a huge difference.

How to check to make sure your vent is unclogged:

1) disconnect your dryer from the vent. Run it and feel how much air is being blown out of it.
2) reconnect it, then go outside and find your vent. Run the dryer and feel how much air is coming out of the vent.

If (1) =/= (2), you have a clogged vent.
posted by rebent at 1:15 PM on June 11, 2014

We had a washer/dryer combo in our last apartment and I'm guessing they all work the same way, which is unvented - the moisture extracted from the clothes during the drying part condenses on the outside of the drum and drains it the same way as the wash water.

They're a completely freestanding unit, which makes them perfect for apartments and moving, but I loathed ours. It only had one heat setting and drying anything took - quite literally - hours. It was so time and energy inefficient, I found it quicker and cheaper to take our laundry down to the laundromat and pay $1 for 8 mins.
posted by Zaire at 7:55 PM on June 12, 2014

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