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Permanent Press vs Gentle Cycle: The Ultimate Guide to Washer and Dryer Settings

Published Date:
February 1, 2024

Understanding Your Washer and Dryer Settings

We’ve all seen the different cycle settings on our washing machines and dryers, but how many of us actually understand what each of them means?

Knowing which washer and dryer setting to use for which article of clothing can make all the difference in how your garments look and feel after they’re done washing and drying.

However, if you dont know, you’re not alone! Many people don’t understand the different settings, which can make doing laundry a confusing experience. Many people believe that all of the washer and dryer settings are more or less the same things, but they are not. Different washer and dryer settings use different temperatures and spin cycles, thus creating a different result.

Fortunately, we’ve compiled the basics of using each of these settings, so you can better understand how to use them for your laundry.

What is the Permanent Press setting on washers and dryers?

Permanent Press is for clothes that can get wrinkly during a regular wash and dry cycle. The term refers to the fabric composition – not the washer or dryer settings. This new fabric composition was invented by Ruth R. Benerito in 1990 to help eliminate the need for ironing cotton after every wash.

She developed a process called cross-linking, which replaced the ineffectual hydrogen bonds with stronger ones. The new chemical bonds act like the sturdy rungs of a ladder, snapping the polymer chains back to crisp, unwrinkled attention. The term refers to fabric that has been chemically processed to resist wrinkles and hold its shape.

The washer and dryer settings simply cater to the time, temperature, and tumble that is most beneficial to this textile type. 

Permanent Press in the Washing Machine

The permanent press cycle works to release creases in the fabrics placed within the washing machine by beginning the wash with warm or hot water, and then switching to cool while rinsing. The cycle ends with a slow spin, as a way to reduce wrinkles.

In essence, the permanent press cycle reduces the wrinkles in your clothes. It also helps to preserve the finish on your wrinkle-free items, allowing them to last longer. But, the hot water in the cycle can damage delicates if you’re not careful! Typically, you want to avoid the Permanent Press washing machine cycle with your delicate laundry.

Permanent Press cycles are also used to reduce the fading, shrinking, and pilling of certain synthetic materials. In comparison to the regular cycle, the Permanent Press cycle is gentler. However, it isn’t gentle enough for certain delicate garments, such as lingerie, athletic wear, or woven throws.

Permanent Press Settings in the Dryer

The Permanent Press setting on your dryer is designed to reduce wrinkles in clothing when drying without damaging fabrics that may shrink if exposed to high temperatures.

The cycle works by combining a high-heat drying period with a low-heat drying period and then a cool-down period at the end. This helps to relax wrinkles out of fabrics while reducing heat exposure during the cycle, which prevents shrinkage and damage to delicate fabrics.

This setting is great for items like blouses, button-up shirts, and khaki pants – items that typically need to be ironed. However, it can ruin athletic wear or delicates that should not be exposed to high heat.

The permanent press setting differs from other settings on your dryer because it uses both high and low heat combined with a cool-down period at the end. For example, regular heat settings are designed for tougher items like jeans or towels that can tolerate higher temperatures.

Prevent Wrinkles with These Amazon Laundry Products on Amazon

No one likes dealing with wrinkled laundry – wrinkles can ruin a great fit! Fortunately, following these simple Amazon laundry products can help keep wrinkles at bay so that after each wash cycle, you have clean and crisp clothing.

Allertech Reusable Dryer Sheets- If you want the efficiency and ease of use of dryer sheets without the harmful side effects, Allertech has a great option in their reusable dryer sheets. These sheets are unscented, chemical-free, and hypoallergenic. Each sheet is good for over 500 loads of laundry.

Friendsheep Wool Dryer Balls- Made of organic New Zealand wool, Friendsheep’s dryer balls are cruelty-free and last for 1000+ loads of laundry. They are made in Nepal and hand-felted in ethical working conditions by women. A set of six can be used for large loads of laundry.

The Laundress Fabric Conditioner- It’s not laundry softener – it’s fabric conditioner. That’s how you know it’s fancy. Just an ounce of fabric conditioner per load leaves my clothes much softer than supermarket brands. However, I do find that all The Laundress products have a strong scent which I would describe as anything but fresh and natural – artificial really. But, still smells quite good!

The Laundress Detergent- If there is a specific type of Permanent Press fabric that you are trying to wash, finding a detergent meant specifically for that fabric could be beneficial. The Laundress makes a detergent meant specifically for denim and other Permanent Press type garments. It protects fibers while also cleansing and conditioning in a concentrated formula.

What are the Gentle or Delicate Cycles on washers and dryers?

When using both your washing machine and dryer’s delicate cycles, keep in mind that these cycles are designed specifically for fragile fabrics such as silk, cashmere, wool, linen, and other embellished garments – not for everyday items like t-shirts or jeans. Be sure to read the care label carefully before putting any item into either machine so that you can ensure that you choose the best setting possible for protecting those special garments while still getting them clean! With a proper understanding of how both machines’ delicate cycles work together, you’ll be able to keep all of your delicates looking their best!

The gentle cycle, also known as a delicate cycle on some machines, is best for garments with weaker fabrics, as well as some blankets and other bedding items.

Gentle or delicate laundry settings begin with a quick, cold wash, and end with a slow tumble and spin cycle. The delicate materials that most commonly should be washed on a gentle or delicate setting include, but are not limited to:


  • Athletic clothes
  • Underwear/lingerie
  • Crocheted items
  • Blankets/bedding

Delicate Cycles in the Washing Machine

The delicate cycle on a washing machine is designed to be used for items that require gentle handling. This includes lingerie, bathing suits, and any other clothing with embellishments (such as sequins). It also includes materials such as cashmere and silk.

The delicate cycle can also be used for wool sweaters that are labeled “hand wash only” or any other item with a similar label.

The washing machine’s delicate cycle uses less agitation than the regular cycle does which helps protect fragile fabrics from damage. It also typically operates at lower water temperatures which helps prevent shrinkage and fading in color-sensitive materials like wool.

Additionally, most washers have an extra rinse option associated with their delicate cycles which can help ensure that all of the detergent has been removed from your clothing items before they go in the dryer.

Delicate Cycle Settings in the Dryer

The delicate cycle on a dryer is designed to help reduce wrinkling in fabrics that are prone to wrinkling when they are dried – such as cotton and linen.

The low heat setting of the delicate cycle helps keep these types of fabrics from becoming over-dried, while still providing enough heat to evaporate moisture from your clothes so they don’t come out damp.

Most dryers will have a timer associated with their delicate cycles so you can set it to run for shorter periods if needed – this ensures that your delicates don’t get over-dried and become brittle or faded due to excessive heat exposure.

Tips for Drying Different Types of Clothing

When selecting a cycle for drying clothes on your dryer, it’s important to note that some fabrics are more sensitive than others and require special care when laundering them. For instance, delicate fabrics like silk should never go in the dryer; they should only be air-dried flat or hung up so they don’t stretch out over time.

Similarly, natural fibers such as cotton have a lower tolerance for heat so they should always be washed with cold water and then dried using the permanent press setting or air dry option. On the flip side, synthetic fibers such as polyester or nylon can handle higher temperatures so they can usually go in any regular heat cycle without the worry of shrinking or damage to fabric integrity.

Rule of Caution: If you are worried about maintaining the integrity of your delicate item, you can opt for hand washing instead.

At the end of the day, as long as you are cautious and mindful of your delicate items, they should be fine!

Ultimately, understanding how each cycle works on your dryer can help you keep your clothes looking new longer! Knowing which type of fabric should go into which cycle will help you avoid shrinking clothes or ruining delicate materials with too much heat exposure over time. So next time you’re doing laundry at home make sure to pay attention to those settings—your clothes will thank you later!

2ULaundry now offers a Delicate Laundry Bag!

Still not sure if you should use Permanent Press or Gentle Cycle? Send your laundry off for professional laundry service!

You can now choose which items get which treatment at 2ULaundry! Our Delicates Bag is a flat-rate bag that you can fill with your delicate laundry.

The Delicates Bag is for your wash-and-fold garments that need gentle wash and low-temperature or air drying. For some people, it’s a few pairs of their favorite jeans. For others, it’s workout gear and leggings. However, if you decide to use this delicates bag, rest assured that the garments in this bag are getting specialized and separate treatment from the rest of your order.

2ULaundry is a premium laundry and dry-cleaning pick-up and delivery service available in Charlotte, Atlanta, Tampa, Austin, San Antonio, and Phoenix. Learn more about 2ULaundry and sign up on our website.

Our promise to you

We will do everything we can to return your clothes to you in great shape. In the rare instance that an item goes missing or is damaged during the cleaning process, we’ll reimburse you up to the full value of the item with a $1,000 maximum per order.