Three wrinkle wranglers that washed out

    Consumer Reports News: October 22, 2010 11:20 AM

    Americans are crazy for wrinkle removers. And not just the ones that erase the smile lines around your eyes. Pressed for time, we like to grab our crease-free clothes and go, bypassing the dry cleaner. So here at Consumer Reports, we furrowed our brows and took a look at three products that claim to uncrinkle the wrinkles. The results weren't pretty.

    Mister Steamy
    "Mister Steamy," a sponge-filled, vented rubber ball, claims to be "the fastest way to get wrinkles out without getting the iron out." We tossed Mister Steamy into a dryer with men's cotton dress shirts. One of the shirts looked like those taken out of the dryer and hung promptly. The other fared slightly worse. Two balls plus a bottle of fabric softener cost $19.99 online. Shipping and handling? Shell out another $13.98. In the end, Mister Steamy didn't win our esteem.

    Steam dryers
    More and more dryers feature steam cycles, so Consumer Reports decided to toughen its tests by adding 100 percent cotton shirts to our test loads of cotton blends. Our past tests supported manufacturers' claims that steam relaxed wrinkles and removed odors. Conventional dryers performed about the same as those with steam, leaving visible wrinkles on the shirts, but steam removed more odors. However, dryers without the steam feature tend to cost less (check our Ratings).

    Cordless steam irons
    If you have to get out the ironing board, pass on cordless steam irons. In our most recent tests, the cordless steam models produced lower amounts of steam per minute than corded models and required constant reheating, extending ironing time. We found some less-expensive corded models that were better performers. (See our Ratings.)

    So what to do when your clothes look like they were left in a heap? "To get wrinkles out of laundry, there's still nothing better than tossing a damp towel into the dryer near the end of the cycle," says Pat Slaven, our in-house textile expert. She also recommends:

    • Not packing the washer or dryer—keep the loads to half full.
    • Slightly damp clothes iron better, so remove them early if you plan to iron right away.
    • Iron silk and synthetics that need the lowest temperature first, then work your way up through wools, cottons, and linens as the iron heats up.

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