How to Get Stubborn Wrinkles Out of Clothes

Have you ever had a situation where, no matter how hard you try, wrinkles won’t iron out?

In this article, we’ll show you why clothes wrinkle, how to remove stubborn wrinkles from clothing, and even some advanced techniques for when wrinkles just won’t iron out.

With the right technique and enough effort, stubborn wrinkles CAN be removed from clothes. Let’s figure it out..

Clothes Still Wrinkled After Ironing

There are two main reasons wrinkles persist, even after ironing.

1. The Fibers Themselves Are Crumpled

Fibers are basically tiny wires weaved into a criss-cross pattern. They can bend and fold just like any other wire, and even remain stuck in this “kinked” state.

We need to add enough heat and pressure to overwhelm this bent fiber on a molecular level to straighten it out without damaging it.

2. The Weave is Pulled Uneven

The second possible cause is that the criss-cross weave has become uneven… pulling to the one side and creating an asymmetrical tension. This creates valleys and hills in the otherwise flat plane.

We’ll have to release the tension between the weave to allow the misaligned pattern to return to its original state. Thankfully, whether it’s the weave or the fibers themselves, the solution is the same.

How to Get Stubborn Wrinkles Out of Clothes

Here are the exact steps you should follow to get those stubborn wrinkles and creases out of your shirts, pants, and dresses whether they are cotton, wool, polyester, or other synthetic fabrics.

I know you’re frustrated so I’m not going to make it worse by giving you all the obvious steps. You’ve clearly tried them already and the wrinkles still would not iron out!

But here’s the thing… simply run the whole process from start to finish. Coupling them together as a full treatment will have the best results. Maybe you’ve missed something and, if it still does not work, see the more aggressive techniques further down.

Always observe laundry labels. Some options below may not be allowed.

1. Wash with Fabric Softener

Start by washing the clothing with a good quality fabric softener (or natural alternative). Dirt and oils can build up and cause fibers to warp or stick together, causing wrinkles and creases.

While the soap cleans the fabric, the fabric softener will lubricate and soften the fibers. This releases any stuck tension in the weave, allowing it to return to normal. The iron should also glide a little easier over the fabric.

Always check whether the label suggests machine-washing, hand-washing, or dry-cleaning.

2. Let it Dry 90%

Here’s the trick… let the item dry about 90% of the way, whether you’re using a machine or hang-drying.

The last 10% of moisture inside the garment will help it iron better. Hang-drying will also produce fewer wrinkles than a machine dryer.

Use a wide-body suit hanger for shirts or blouses to avoid pinched shoulders and “draping”. Preferably the plastic kind, to avoid damage from moisture.

3. Set the Ironing Temperature

Really understand what fabric you’re working with. The laundry tag will indicate whether ironing is allowed. It will show an iron icon with 3 dots.

●●● Linen (High Heat – 230 C/445 F)
●● Cotton (Medium Heat – 204 C/400 F)
● Wool, Silk, Polyester (Low Heat – 148 C/300 F)

Check the label for fabric combinations! Denim is usually made from cotton blends while corduroy can be made from many different fabrics.

4. Iron with Steam

Iron on a dedicated, flat surface with generous steam bursts applied.

Steam is by far the most effective way to remove wrinkles from clothing. It penetrates the fibers on a molecular level and reforms them into the manufacturer’s intended shape.

Unfortunately, steam isn’t always allowed. Most cotton, wool, silk, polyester, and nylon can be ironed but you must check the clothing label to be 100% sure. The best steam irons we’ve found can be seen here.

If you’re still seeing wrinkles at this point, skip to the more aggressive techniques below.

3. Hang with Care

Once the item is ironing and completely dry, you should hang it with care. Dresses, Jackets, blouses shirts, pants, and skirts definitely prefer to be hung while sweaters, shorts, activewear,  and lingerie should be folded instead.

The choice is ultimately yours, but folding introduces a “fold-line” which can be seen when wearing the item.

Here’s the catch, avoid stuffing them into a crowded cupboard. Items hung squashed together will be more wrinkled than if you folded them instead!

If cupboard space is limited, perhaps consider hanging this particular item outside of a cupboard, or on a portable hanging rail.

Wrinkles Won’t Iron Out

Here are some more aggressive “advanced” options to try. But beware… in extreme cases, they may damage clothing and should be tested on an inconspicuous part of the garment first. Try it on the bottom corner of a shirt which is usually tucked into trousers or the very bottom back of a pant leg where any mistakes won’t be as obvious.

Option 1: Spray Starch on the Creases and Wrinkles and Iron

Starch isn’t just for old cowboy jeans and overly-stiff military uniforms. You can add starch to the fabric while ironing to force it flat and overpower wrinkles.

Here’s a quick video on using starch while ironing.

Option 2: Rub a Bar of Soap on the Crease Itself

Using hard pressure, rubbing a bar of soap could mechanically pull apart the tight weave and loosen the fibers. This might help get rid of otherwise permanent wrinkles in clothes.

Bars of laundry soap with vegetable oil and borax work best. Rub it directly on the underside of the permanent wrinkles or seams in long, smooth strokes. Try to find the right pressure which pushes the seam flat while not pulling the fabric along with it.

Option 3: Apply Vinegar

Vinegar has been known to release tension in the fabric weave and eliminate stubborn wrinkles and creases.

Some folks even claim that adding white vinegar to your washing machine while doing laundry, helps keep the machine clean too!

You’ll need to investigate the right amounts and could even add baking soda and hair conditioner if you feel comfortable.

Option 4: The Hydrogen PeroxideHail Mary

This is the last and most aggressive option you can try when nothing else works on seemingly permanent wrinkles in clothing.

Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) is sold in a 3% solution in drug stores. The chemical compound will get rid of any final sticky residue, gunking up the fibers and causing wrinkles to persist no matter what you do.

It’s safe to use on most laundry, but you have to read up on the particular fabric and how it will react to the solution.

You could soak it for hours or even iron it with the Hydrogen Peroxide still damp inside the garment.

You could even find stronger solutions if you dig around a little, but these might ruin the garment. Of course, if you’re at a stage where you would rather take the chance than to let the wrinkles be, it might be worth a shot.

Why Wrinkles Persist Even After Ironing

Here are some of the main reasons wrinkles won’t iron out:

  • Not Applying Enough Moisture
  • Too-low Temp Setting
  • Not Applying Enough Steam
  • Not Applying Enough Ironing Pressure
  • Ironing Dirty, Unwashed Fabric
  • Not Washing Out Old Starch before Ironing
  • Hanging the Clothing Poorly

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you which one is the culprit. Since every kind of fabric is completely different, you will have to triple-check the label for suggested laundry instructions.

The instructions above, along with the advanced techniques should solve the problem. If they do not, it might be time to throw in the towel and let them be. Allow them to add to the character to the piece, or hide them under a second layer of clothing if absolutely needed.