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Replace your clothing iron with this homemade wrinkle releaser

Make this wrinkle releaser with ingredients you already have faster than your iron can heat up.

No one likes wrinkled clothes. Even fewer like having to break out the clothes iron, wait for it to heat up and slowly press the fabric of your favorite shirt flat when you probably should have already left for work.

There are a few alternative ways to fight wrinkles, though. You could buy a cheap portable steamer or toss wrinkled clothes in the dryer for a few minutes with a wet washcloth. You could even keep a bottle of wrinkle releaser on hand.

If you don't have wrinkle releaser or don't feel like paying for it, you can make some at home on the cheap, before your iron even has a chance to heat up.

What you will need

There are several recipes for wrinkle DIY releaser floating around out there. A recipe by One Good Thing By Jillee calls for hair conditioner, distilled vinegar and filtered water. Others call for distilled water and various mixtures of fabric softener or essential oils and vinegar or rubbing alcohol.

The two wrinkle releaser recipes I tried were this one:

  • 1 cup (237 milliliters) distilled water
  • 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) fabric softener

And this one:

  • 1 cup (237 milliliters) water
  • 1 cup (237 milliliters) distilled vinegar
  • Approximately 14 drops jasmine essential oil

In addition to the ingredients, you will need a spray bottle and either a funnel or measuring cup with a pour spout.

How to make your own wrinkle releaser

Regardless of which recipe you choose, the premise remains the same: use cheap ingredients to make a wrinkle releaser spray that's faster and requires less effort than ironing.

  • Start making the wrinkle releaser by adding 1 cup (237 milliliters) of water to the spray bottle.
  • Add either 1 tablespoon (5 milliliters) of fabric softener or 1 cup (237 milliliters) of vinegar to the bottle.
  • If you chose to use vinegar, add 14 or so drops of your favorite essential oil.
  • Screw on the spray cap and give the bottle a shake to mix everything thoroughly.

Before using this spray, test it on a small, hidden part of your shirt or garment to make sure it won't cause any discoloration. (For what it's worth, I haven't had an issue with either, but it's definitely better to be safe than sorry in this situation.)

To use this DIY wrinkle releaser, hang your garment on a clothes hanger or lay it out flat on your bed. Pull the garment taught as you generously spray the mixture over it and run your hand over the wrinkles to help smooth them out. You want to make it damp, but not soak it, as the more you spray, the longer it will take to dry.

If you choose to de-wrinkle your clothes before bed, you can be even more generous with the spray.

To test the mixtures, I picked two of the most wrinkled button downs from a suitcase I took on a trip this past weekend and sprayed the vinegar-based spray on the blue striped shirt and fabric softener-based spray on the pink striped shirt.

The vinegar-based wrinkle releaser seemed to work better, but I couldn't fully mask the smell with essential oils.

Taylor Martin/CNET

Of the two I tested, I had more success with the vinegar mixture releasing wrinkles. The blue striped shirt was visibly less wrinkled after spraying.

The fabric softener-based wrinkle releaser wasn't as effective, but smells great.

Taylor Martin/CNET

The pink shirt, which I sprayed with the fabric softener mixture, still showed more signs of faint wrinkles after spraying. However, the pink shirt also smelled much better than the blue, which had a faint smell of vinegar to it.

The likely reason for the increased effectiveness of the vinegar is the higher concentration. Upping the ratio of fabric softener to water might increase its how well it works, but it could also increase the likelihood of it leaving behind a residue on your clothes.

That said, neither of the recipes I tested were a perfect replacement for a clothes iron, even if I did pick excessively wrinkled shirts. But it's a great alternative to running out of the house in a heavily wrinkled shirt.

If nothing else, these could make ironing a lot faster and easier. Or if you happen to use this spray as a pre-steamer or pair it with the ol' toss-in-the-dryer trick, your clothes will be free of wrinkles in no time and with very little effort.

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