How to Keep Cotton Shirts from Wrinkling?

It’s true:

Cotton clothing is the most common type of clothing in the world.

Most shirts, pants, jackets, sweaters, etc, are all made from it. If you open up your closet right now, you would probably have more cotton clothing than any other material.

I did the same and it was pretty obvious that aside from a few linen shirts and a pair of jeans, I was in the same boat.

Yet, cotton wrinkles more often and worse than any other material, except maybe linen or seersucker. You could wear the same denim jeans without having to iron out any wrinkles for days on end.

However, a cotton shirt would look worn after the first day. So, why does cotton wrinkle?

How to prevent wrinkles in cotton shirts?

Why does Cotton wrinkle?

The proof is in the cotton plant here.

Cotton is extracted from the cotton plant which comprises mostly of cellulose. It’s that thing that comprises fiber which is the reason we can’t digest it. Cellulose, when woven in to a shirt or a pair of pants, the hydrogen it comprises of, forms bonds.

These bonds are common to hydrogen containing molecules; they’re not similar to other bonds that other atoms can make.

They also help the clothes to maintain their shape. However, when they get wet, either from a splash of water, moisture in the air, or from sweat, they wrinkle.

When the air is humid or when you’ve exerted yourself a lot and gotten sweaty, wrinkles make their appearance. The hydrogen links in the clothing react to the contact with water pretty instantly. When the water evaporates, it leaves the clothing in a completely new shape.

This is why it’s so important to iron clothes after you wash them.

So now that you know what’s causing those dreaded wrinkles, let’s do something about it. Here is your 2020 guide to keep cotton shirts from wrinkling.

How to keep Cotton Shirts from wrinkling

There are some pretty basic things you can do to prevent your cotton clothes from wrinkling:


Ironing is the best way to get rid of wrinkles. You probably knew this!

Even if you get a steamer or hang up your clothes correctly, there is still a chance of a wrinkle or two. You’ll always find some folds that you can’t get rid of around the sleeves or near the hem.

Ironing gets the job done better than all other methods. That’s something you’ll just have to accept.

Steaming your cotton clothes

Getting a steamer is literally a life saver.

It helps you get rid of wrinkles without the hassle of ironing them out. You can just hang a shirt or a pair of pants and let the steamer do the work.

The next best thing is to hang your clothes on the bathroom door (on a hanger) during a hot shower. This is a popular tip, but honestly, it has never really worked too well for me. YMMV, as they say.

Tumble drying

You can also tumble dry your clothes for about five minutes along with a wet towel. Make sure the towel is white though. Any other color can get on your clothing.

Just remember to hang the clothes correctly after you take them out of the dryer.

Separating Heavy and Light Fabrics

Most people just separate the colored clothes and the white clothes so that the latter aren’t ruined. However, you should also separate heavy and light fabrics.

To keep cotton wrinkle free it should be left to breathe as much as possible. Even during a wash you should make sure it’s not being cramped or squished.

In the long run, this will maintain the integrity of the clothing and will keep cotton wrinkle-free.

Traveling Light

Suitcases are cramped, stuffed places by definition. Even if you get one with extra space built-in you are bound to overstuff it. So if you’re packing for a trip, pack light. You probably won’t need those 10 pairs of pants for a five-day trip.

Also, if you’re staying at a hotel, don’t pack any soaps, shampoos, or toothpaste. Those will all be provided to you. You’ll be doing your clothes a favor at the end of the day. You’ll elongate their life and prevent wrinkles.

How to keep Cotton wrinkle-free

The following tips are just more disciplined ways in which you can keep your clothes. Doing what your parents have been telling you for years, does actually work.

Sorry to burst your bubble!

Hanging your clothes the proper way

Get more hangers.

Very few people hang their clothes up and just stuff them in to their closets and cabinets. Whether it’s a T-shirt or a specially sewn dress-shirt, hang it up.

Treat your clothes with the respect they deserve and they will stay wrinkle free. It’s one of the arguments for spending a bit more on your clothes – you buy high quality, treat them right, and they will last longer.

Letting your clothing breathe

Stuffing your clothes in to a cramped space isn’t good for them.

That only helps them develop creases that are hard to get rid of. An overcrowded closet or drawer is never good for cotton shirts or pants.

Let most of your clothes breathe.

Get more hangers if you need to and get rid of any items that you don’t want. Donate the clothes that you haven’t worn for a long time so that there’s more space to let them breathe. Not only will this do wonders for your wardrobe, but you’ll also keep your clothes wrinkle free for longer.

Folding correctly after drying

If you’re used to ironing your clothes after unloading your washing machine/dryer, then you can just scoop them out. However, if you want to take advantage of the after-wash effect on cotton clothes, fold them correctly. Check out this guide.

They’re heated up and moist, so they will eventually settle in to whatever shape they are folded in to. That means you can hang them up, fold them properly, and essentially safe a lot of work when ironing. Remember to fold neatly and keep them in a space which is not too cramped.

If you stuff them in your closet it’ll undo all your hard work.

Being more mobile

Sitting in one place causes bends and folds to develop in your clothes. This then causes stubborn wrinkles. Hence, don’t sit in one place for more than an hour.

Get up, walk around, do a few push-ups while you’re at it. This’ll keep you healthy and your clothes wrinkle free. Take advantage of that non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT)!

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