What's better non-iron or wrinkle-free?

Published: October 11, 2014 12:00 PM
Illustration: Kelsey Dake

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Q. I buy most of my shirts from catalogs, but I’m confused by the various terms used to describe them: “non-iron,” “wrinkle-free,” “wrinkle-­resistant,” and “wrinkle-shed.” Is there any difference, in terms of how smooth the shirt will look after washing and ironing? And can you really get away with not ironing a dress shirt?—Harold Corat Moran, Colorado Springs, CO

A: We aren’t aware of any standard definitions for those terms; the ones you mention—as well as many others—may have different specifications depending on the brand, retailer, and manufacturer. An informal review suggests that when removed from the dryer, “no iron” garments appear smoothest, followed by “wrinkle free,” then “easy care,” which you’ll often find on blended cotton/poly fabrics. Be aware that wrinkle-free finishes reduce the life span of a cotton garment by 20 to 25 percent.

Check our steam iron buying guide and Ratings to find an iron that makes your clothes look their best. And use our tips for buying clothes at outlet stores.

Send your questions to ConsumerReports.org/askourexperts.

Editor's Note:

This article also appeared in the November 2014 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.


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