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How to Keep Your Clothes Wrinkle-Free While Traveling

Technology + Gear
by Morgane Croissant Oct 12, 2023

Even if your travel style is outdoorsy rather than businessy, or casual rather than luxurious, it’s always a good idea to pack dress-up clothes. After all, you never know when you’ll want to go to an elegant restaurant, be invited to a semi-formal event, or need to make a good impression on a stranger. But there’s very little point in packing a pair of slacks, a button-down shirt, or a cocktail dress if they are going to be wrinkly — all you’ll manage is to look unkempt. With some affordable gear and smart tips, however, it’s easy to have wrinkle-free travel clothes, even if you don’t have an iron handy.

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All the gear you need to keep you clothes winkle-free when you travel

There are only two ways to ensure wrinkle-free travel clothes: Elbow grease and buying the right gear. Perfectly smooth clothing does not magically come out of your luggage — you have to work for it, i.e. iron everything before and after packing it. But what if you’re staying somewhere where there’s no iron? Or what if you don’t want to waste your precious time away ironing out every crease in your garments? While ironing your clothes is non negotiable before packing your bags, if you want winkle-free travel clothes, you don’t have to go at it again if you own the right stuff.

Get yourself a garment bag


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Garment bags allow your ironed clothes to hang rather than being folded, preventing wrinkles. However, because garment bags do fold in half to be more easily transportable, know that there may be a few creases in your clothes once you arrive at your destination. Those few creases are usually very minimal and should be easily remedied by some of the tips listed further below.

The key to picking a good garment bag is to first look at its size. Garment bags can be used as carry-on luggage or personal items as long as they don’t exceed the maximum dimensions required by airlines. You also want to make sure that the bag is large enough to carry your clothes and other items like shoes, belts, etc. After all, if it takes the spot of a carry-on in your luggage allowance, it should hold as much as one. Both the Away Garment Bag and the Nomatic Garment Bag are highly reviewed and great value for money. The Away Garment Bag ($195) is soft-sided, can carry two suits or three full-length garments, has multiple pockets, is water resistant, and counts as a personal item. The Nomatic Garment Bag ($149.99) is also soft-sided and water-resistant, has pockets for accessories and shoes, and can contain three suits, or several dresses, shirts/blouses, jackets, and more. For something a little cheaper, smaller, and easier to transport, check out Nomatic’s Apparel Sleeve ($74.99). It holds fewer items that the garment bag of the same brand, but it has multiple pockets for accessories and is water resistant.

Buy Away’s Garment Bag now
Buy Nomatic’s Garment Bag now
Buy Nomatic’s Apparel Sleeve now

Aquire a garment folder

Garment folders help keep your luggage organized, and the items in the folder are nicely compressed so they take less room. A garment folder is very much like a packing cube but for dressier items that need to stay wrinkle-free, like button-down shirts, blouses, and dress pants. The Eagle Creek Pack-It™ Garment Folders are the most popular garment folders on the market. They come in three sizes (M, L, and XL), depending on your needs, and range in price from $25 to $30 and $35. Eagle Creek’s Garment Folders come with a folding board so you can fold all your previously ironed items neatly before packing them. We recommend adding tissue paper between each item to limit wrinkling.

Buy Eagle Creek Pack-It Garment Folders now

Buy wrinkle-release spray

Downy wrinkle-releaser spray

Photo: Downy

A good wrinkle-release spray is the easy way to destroy creases with minimal efforts. Just spritz your wrinkled garments with the product until it’s slightly damp, tug at the wrinkles with your hand, and let it dry. The best reviewed wrinkle-release spray on the market is Downy Winkle Releaser, which gets wrinkles out of everything, including jeans and other thick fabrics. A pack of two travel-size Downy Winkle Releaser sprays will only set you back $7.99.

Buy Downy Winkle Releaser spray now

Splurge and purchase a steamer

Conair steamer for crinkle-free travel clothes

Photo: Conair

While travel irons do exist, travel ironing boards don’t, and finding a flat enough surface to take care of a wrinkly dress or button-down shirt is not always possible. A travel steamer is a much easier tool with which to travel since it only requires that you hang your clothes up, and it’s just as good at smoothing out creases as any iron. Also steaming clothes is quick, fun, and satisfying while ironing is a chore that takes for ever. For guaranteed wrinkle-free travel clothes, get yourself the Conair Handheld Garment Steamer (on sale for $59.95 instead of $69.99). This steamer has five settings and three attachments so you can steam just about every item of clothing you own without fear of damaging anything. While it’s not tiny (5.6 x 8 x 13.6 inches, and around 3.6 pounds), it’s small enough to have in your luggage, especially if you have a checked suitcase. For something smaller (3.54 x 2.36 x 7.87 inches, and 1.2 pounds), check out Polardo mini travel steamer. It’s the best-rated travel steamer on Amazon and costs only $39.99.

Buy the Conair Handheld Garment Steamer now
Buy the Polardo mini travel steamer now

Tips on how to have wrinkle-free travel clothes

If you don’t want to spend money on the tried-and-tested gear listed above, there are some tricks that may help you on your crease-free clothing quest. Few work as well as using a travel steamer, a garment bag, or wrinkle-remover spray, but they will help you look less frumpy than if you did not use anything.

How to pack clothes so they don’t wrinkle?

The best thing you can do to have wrinkle-free travel clothes is to iron your stuff before you pack it. It goes without saying that an ironed shirt will come out of your bag significantly smoother than one that was never ironed. So get out your ironing board and iron, and smooth all the items of clothing you’ll need before you even start to think about how to fold and pack them.

Once your clothes are ironed, use a folding board to fold them neatly and slide tissue paper around the different parts of each garments. Once done, wrap your clothing individually in plastic bags (keep all your dry cleaner’s bags for that purpose.) Limiting friction between parts of the items of clothing and between various items in your luggage will prevent wrinkling.

But all this work will go to waste if you don’t organize your luggage properly. Make sure to pack your shoes, toiletry kit, and other heavy items at the bottom of your luggage, and keep the delicate, ironed clothes on top so they don’t get smushed by the rest of your belongings.

Does rolling clothes prevent wrinkles?

Rolling clothes is not the best way to keep them wrinkle free, but it is a good way to save space in your luggage (especially if you use packing cubes.) That said, if you roll up your clothes correctly, they will be better looking than if you just toss them randomly in your luggage, so it’s still worth taking the time to do it, especially if you travel with a backpack or duffle bag instead of a suitcase.

First, if you want wrinkle-free travel clothes, you need to iron said clothes before you roll them up. It’s a time-consuming activity, but it’s a step you can’t avoid if you want smooth garments. Next, fold the items lengthways and roll them tightly. If the items are not rolled tightly enough, they are more likely to wrinkle.

Note that the rolling technique works best for casual clothing, and pieces made of synthetic fabric that don’t wrinkle very much to begin with. Don’t roll up a linen suit, or a thin cotton dress, and hope it’ll come out smooth — it won’t.

What is bundle wrapping?

Bundle wrapping consists in folding all your previously ironed clothing items together around a soft but sturdy core, in one big bundle. First, you create a somewhat square core by tightly wrapping a simple t-shirt around all your socks and underwear (they don’t need to be crease-free). Then you lay out all of your clothes flat on top of each other, starting with the largest items, and you deposit the core in the middle. Your next step consists of folding each item around the core one after the other, very tightly, to prevent wrinkles.

Bundle wrapping isn’t the most practical way to pack, but to keep your clothes wrinkle-free, it’s a little bit more effective than the rolling technique.

How to get wrinkles out of clothes without an iron?

No matter which of the above folding and packing techniques you use, your clothes will never come out of your luggage perfectly smooth. If you don’t have an iron handy, try out the following tips to remove any remaining creases in your garments:

  • Hang up your clothes up as soon as you arrive at your destination. Gravity will help a little.
  • Hang up your clothes in the bathroom while you have a hot shower. The steam will help remove some of the wrinkles, granted you only have a few. Using a wrinkle-release spray before hanging your garment in the bathroom works best.
  • Use a damp towel to humidify the wrinkled clothes and use a hair dryer while tugging at the wrinkles.
  • Use your hair straightener as an iron. Be extremely careful not to burn your delicate or synthetic items of clothing, by keeping the heat level at the lowest setting.

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