A number of fabrics don’t need ironing or may survive many trips through the washing machine and packing with only the occasional need for light ironing. In the past, fabrics that don’t need ironing were usually manmade materials, like nylon, polyester, Lycra and the like. Treatments that keep fabrics wrinkle free have been applied to other fabrics like cotton/poly, cotton/lycra or rayon blends have increased the number of wrinkle-free fabrics on the market.
It’s also important to understand that the materials for fabrics don’t always determine whether the fabric will be relatively wrinkle-free. Some polyester shirts may need ironing now and again if they are not stretchy to begin with. On the other hand, things made of cotton knit, like leggings or tee shirts usually don’t need ironing because the wrinkles won’t last. If you have a few persistent wrinkles, hanging these in the bathroom while you take your shower usually gets rid of them, or popping them in the air cycle in the dryer for a few minutes will restore them to a wrinkle-free look.
A few fabrics that typically don’t need ironing and have been manufactured for a long time include most knit fabrics, including wool knit, anything made of 100% nylon (which can easily melt if you iron it on high heat), any polyester knits, and most knits made into sweaters. These include most wools, cotton knits, cotton blend knits, wool blend knits, angora, mohair and cashmere. Many woven fabrics that are blends are less likely to require ironing, though this may depend upon the individual blend.
Heavier fabrics like denim usually don’t need ironing, especially when they’re made into things like denim jeans or jackets. Lighter denim in the form of skirts, jumpers or shirts may require the occasional pass with the iron. The fabric Tencel® made from wood fibers has been celebrated for its ability to shake out wrinkles if hung overnight. Clothes made with Tencel® are often touted as some of the best travel clothes because they dry quickly, have excellent drape, and resist wrinkling when packed.
There are a lot of recommendations that linen also makes for excellent travel clothes. This really depends upon the linen. To many, linen is known for its ability to wrinkle easily and quickly, and look rumpled after a few hours of wear. Some say this only adds to the charm of linen because it is supposed to be slightly wrinkled, but others find this an unattractive look. If you like a smooth look to your clothing, linen may not be the best choice, and packing it usually results in it needing ironing before wearing.
As mentioned, there are a number of fabrics treated with special chemicals that make them wrinkle-free. These may not look freshly pressed after several washings, but they may be excellent choices if you hate ironing and want to avoid it as much as possible. You will see many of these treated fabrics that don’t need ironing at clothing stores.