We’ve all been there. We’ve meticulously packed our clothes into our suitcases only to find them completely crumpled once we’ve reached our hotel. Who wants to set up the ironing board and struggle to get the creases out on holiday or early in the morning before an important business meeting? In some parts the of the world hotels don’t even provide an iron.
There are a few ways to minimize creases in clothes, right from the way you pack, to the kind of luggage you buy, to what you do to your items of clothing after you unpack. Wrinkle-free packing involves a bit of effort and smarts while filling your suitcase up at home but it’s totally worth it. This guide will tell you how to achieve this, what kind of luggage to buy and how to remove the few mild creases from your dresses and suits without using an iron.
1. Edit and organize your items
If you are a natural over-packer here’s another reason to change. Over-packing means squeezing your clothes into the bag and that means wrinkles form more easily. Lay out all your things, including accessories, and get rid of at least 20% of it. Make sure every article goes with at least two others so aim to mix and match.
Once you know for sure that you can’t edit anymore, arrange everything in stacks and bundles on a bed or table before placing them in your suitcase. Heavy items should go right at the bottom of a suitcase when it’s stood upright. This keeps light and more wrinkle-prone clothes free on top. Start with shoes and your toiletry kit, then sweaters and jeans, then trousers and skirts and finally tops and shirts. Underwear and socks can be go between each stack to keep everything firmly in place so that nothing shifts during transit. You can use packing organizers for an added method of wrinkle-free packing. If you don’t like those, use plastic, like laundry bags, as they reduce friction which creates creases when clothes rub against each other.
2. Roll several items into bundles
Almost everyone knows that rolling your clothes causes fewer wrinkles than folding but making tight single rolls is really no better than standard folding. What you should be doing is placing at least 3 items, like cotton t-shirts and track pants, one on top of each other and then rolling them all together. Place the most wrinkle-prone one down first and the least wrinkle-prone one comes last so that the innermost item gets most creased. The wider rolls make it easier to keep clothes smooth. We call this bundle wrapping.
3. Use folders for formal shirts
Formal shirts have to be as crisp as possible and that means rolling is not ideal. In this case you should use the method that manufacturers use to pack the items for sale. That doesn’t mean you should keep the cardboard backing and pins that your shirts came in. Instead, buy pack it folders that can be reused for every trip. Eagle Creek has them in 3 different sizes and each comes with a rectangular board of instructions that doubles up as a shirt folding aid.
Lay your shirt buttoned up and face down on a flat surface, then place the folding board on top. Fold the sides and sleeves neatly over the sides and then the bottom hem over the lower end. Place the shirt into the packing folder and slide the board out, leaving the folded shirt in the folder. Repeat for all your shirts, alternating collar directions for space efficiency, then fasten the pack it folder’s sides to make a secure pack of your formals that don’t move around in transit.
4. Buy the right luggage
That duffle bag you swear by might be great for stuffing full with your adventure gear, but if you want to keep your clothes as crease free as possible, you either need something with structure or something that is designed for bundle wrapping.
Invest in a good garment bag for travel because these come with features meant to hold your clothes in their pressed state with minimal shifting about in transit. You can choose traditional travel garment bags like the ones reviewed here or choose a roll up bag that lets you pack your accessories in the center while your clothes wrap in one layer around that core. These bags look like a cylinder when packed and secured.
For a bundle wrapping type of travel garment bag, consider the Hook + ALBERT Waxed Canvas Garment Weekender Bag or the Henty Wingman Travel Suit Bag that comes in one of two sizes. The standard size is more suited for men or tall women, while the compact Wingman is perfect for most women. Both these are designed to transport wrinkle free dresses and suits.
The Hook and Albert Canvas and Leather Garment Weekender Bag is an international carry on size and can hold 2-3 small wire hangers or a medium coat hanger with a snap tab to keep the hook in place. Two shoe pockets fold inwards to form the core of the bag when the top and bottom edges of the garment section rolls inwards to be secured shut. Four inner accessories pockets for belts, jewelry and gadget accessories, two front outer pockets for last minute items and one large zippered outer back pocket for a tablet rounds off the organizational features. An adjustable and detachable shoulder strap and two top grab handles round of this pleasing piece of luggage.
The The Henty Wingman is a two piece bag system. The outer garment bag can hold 1 full suit (jacket and pants/skirt) + 1 shirt/blouse, or 3 shirts/blouses. There is a long zippered pocket on the outside to hold a tablet and smaller pockets inside for pens, etc. This bag wraps around an inner cylindrical utility bag that can hold all your toiletries, accessories and soiled clothes on your return. The whole unit forms a nice secure bundle and has a comfortable padded and adjustable shoulder strap for easy transporting.
The standard Wingman weighs 3.75 lbs and measures 22″ by 9.85″ by 8.66″ when rolled up, 39.8″ long when unrolled, and with the utility bag having a capacity of 14 litres.
The compact Wingman weighs 3.53 lbs and measures 18.9″ by 9.85″ by 8.66″ when rolled up, 39.8″ long when unrolled, and with the utility bag of a capacity of 12 litres.
5. Remove wrinkles without ironing
If you don’t have access to an iron or you just don’t have time for it, try one of the following two methods to remove wrinkles before wearing your clothes.
The first method involves hanging up your garments by a hanger in the bathroom while you have a hot shower. This is a pain-free way to steam them. This method needs really hot water to create enough steam, so it’s not the most effective method.
The second one is more preferable. Take any reusable travel sized 100 ml spray bottle and fill it with a mixture of water and lavender oil. If you spray the mix all over the garment, the fibers will relax and wrinkles fall away quickly. This mix is dilute enough that you won’t end up smelling like you were just picking lavender, but it has an added advantage as an insect repellent and a great cleaner, as it can be sprayed and then brushed off with a hairbrush to remove odor causing bacteria.