There’s not much more I hate than ironing other than wrinkled clothes. It’s why I spend an absurd amount of money on dry-cleaning and promptly remove my clothes from the dryer as soon as it buzzes for folding.
Then there’s the challenge of traveling. For years, I struggled with tiny hotel room ironing boards and temperamental irons so that I could look polished for my business meetings. My shirts never turned out right and I even burned and stained a shirt or two.
Finally, I had enough, and started to employ the following techniques so I could enjoy wrinkle-free clothes without the hassle of ironing while I’m on the road.
Buy Wrinkle-Free Shirts
Wrinkle-free clothes may cost a bit more than regular shirts, but they’re as advertised. I can remove my Jos A. Bank shirts from the suitcase, hang them in the hotel closet and sleep comfortably knowing that they’ll be wrinkle free in the morning.
Use Plastic to Remove Static
Often, it’s static that wrinkles clothes more than the act of traveling. Utilizing plastic in your suitcase will help to remove static and prevent wrinkles. If you’re using a garment bag, cover your closes in a dry cleaner bag before placing them in the garment bag. If you’re folding a dress shirt or blouse, place plastic grocery bags inside the shirt.
Roll Your Clothes
While I wouldn’t recommend rolling your dress shirts, dress pants, blouses or jackets, I do recommend rolling jeans and t-shirts to prevent wrinkles. For jeans, fold them lengthwise and then start rolling at the cuff. For t-shirts, fold the sleeves in and roll away. Rolling is also a great space saver.
Pack With Weight Distribution in Mind
Heavy items—like shoes and bathroom kits—that are placed on top of clothes in your suitcase will cause wrinkles. The trick is to not pack with weight distribution according to how your suitcase lays while you’re packing it. Think about the suitcase’s position in transit. I pack my heavy items where the wheels are on my roller bag. This way, when I’m dragging it through the airport, the heavy items are all at the bottom. When I shove it into the overhead compartment on the plane, the heavy items are stacked on top of each other.
Overlap Garments to Prevent Creases
Do not—I repeat—do not fold your dress pants. If you do, you’ll find yourself with ugly creases on your knees. Instead, lay the top half of your dress pants along the bottom of the suitcase with the legs hanging out. Then, place your rolled clothes on top of the dress pants to form a cushion. Lastly, fold the legs of your pants back into the suitcase. SkyRoll makes a series of carry-on suitcases designed with a garment bag that rolls around the main compartment to help make this easier.
Unpack and Hang Your Items as Soon as You Arrive
No matter how hard you try to prevent wrinkles, the wrinkle monster that lives in your suitcase will sneak one or two into your clothes. Work those out by hanging your clothes as soon as you check into your hotel. By the time you get dressed in the morning, your clothes will be wrinkle free!
Bryan M. Richards is a beer, food, and travel writer based in Charlotte. His work has appeared in Men’s Journal, Beer Advocate, and just about anything with the word Charlotte in it. In a previous life, he was a corporate road warrior staying in two to three different hotels a week and often forgetting his room number.