what the heck is permanent press?

July 10, 2010 at 9:47 pm | | nerd, open thread, science@home

OK, what the heck is the “permanent press” cycle on my washer? On the dryer, I think it just adds a cool tumble to the end to avoid wrinkles. But what about for the washer?

Wiki says that some machines might spray a little water during the spin, but I’m fairly sure that my cheap washer does not have that feature. From what I can tell, the perm press wash cycle is 2 min shorter than the “normal” setting, and the second rinse is a “cool down” rinse. However, my washer make the second rinse cold anyway, so I don’t think this makes perm press special. I wonder if the agitation is weaker (or stronger) for perm press compared to normal, but I sorta doubt it.

So, in conclusion, I have no idea what the “permanent press” settings on my washer are for. Maybe they just had extra space on the settings knob, so they added some fictional settings?

UPDATE: I called GE to ask them this question about their washer. The woman at the technical service said, “I have no idea.” And sorta laughed. No help there.


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  1. Sounds like a kind of Dick knob–except it’s now a Sam knob.

    Comment by Adam — July 11, 2010 #

  2. Permanent press specifically has to do with the fabric that you put in. I’m recalling that the items my mom had that were permanent press were awful polyester pants. Basically they were chemically treated to prevent wrinkling that happens during the spin cycle, while folded/hung, etc.

    At the time, it was a fad. I think most modern washers spray a little water in spin cycle, and most dryers feature a cool-down step so the clothes don’t wrinkle when the dryer stops.

    Comment by Angela — July 11, 2010 #

  3. good point adam. my wife doesn’t really like me doing the laundry because i always screw something up.

    Comment by sam — July 11, 2010 #

  4. This is just a guess, but it may be to do with the rpms of the spin cycle – i.e. they may be lower for the perm press option. So your clothes may come out a bit more wet, but also less wrinkled (lower rotations = less force on the clothes pressing them into the sides of the barrel).

    Comment by Curious Chloride — July 11, 2010 #

  5. that’s hard hitting journalism, sam

    Comment by wm — July 12, 2010 #

  6. thanks, wm. freedom of the gaddam press!

    Comment by sam — July 12, 2010 #

  7. I checked out http://www.fixya.com/support/t14311-permanent_press_cycle_washing_machine http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permanent_press and a couple of online manuals then called GE too. A very helpful woman told me that most GE washers these days have 2 agitation or “spin” settings, high speed and normal speed. The Permanent Press Cycle uses the normal speed spin and has 45 seconds of cool water sprayed on clothes at the end of the cycle. This lower agitation speed and cool water is supposed to prevent wrinkles in clothing like cotton fabric that is prone to wrinkling. Props to wikipedia! If you know the model number, you might query http://laundry.manualsonline.com !

    Comment by Sunshine — August 2, 2010 #

  8. I read this to my family because they wan ted me too

    Comment by charkes — March 5, 2021 #

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