Foolproof Tips for Wrinkle-Free Packing

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It's such a bummer to arrive at your destination, open your suitcase, and find that your carefully packed clothing has been reduced to a rumpled mess. These easy-to-follow packing tips will keep your whole family looking crisp and wrinkle-free.

Embrace packing cubes. Packing cubes are wonderful for organizing clothing items and lessening the shifting that happens when your suitcase gets lugged, rolled, tossed and lifted along your journey. All that shifting is what causes wrinkles, and packing cubes keep your belongings tightly contained and consequently crease-free. I own a combination of Pack-It cubes from Eagle Creek, packing cubes from eBags, and Tom Bihn's packing cubes and use them all.

Sandwich clothes in dry-cleaning bags. Don't throw away those plastic sleeves you get from the dry cleaner. Instead, use them to wrap your wrinkle-prone items. Here's why it works: Wrinkles are caused by the friction of rubbing cloth. When there's a layer of plastic sandwiched between cloth, it reduces the friction, and poof!—no wrinkles. This works whether you're packing a suitcase or a garment bag; just wrap or hang one outfit per bag. It even works for the notoriously creasable linen.

Use tissue paper for silks and delicates. To get a nice silk evening blouse from home to hotel, try folding it and then wrapping it in tissue paper as a store clerk might. Place the parcel inside a packing cube or a zippered compartment in your suitcase. 

Pack baby outfits in zip-top bags. Zip-top bags have a zillion and one uses on a family vacation and are a packing essential for holding toiletries or anything that can leak. Working on the same principle as packing cubes, gallon-size Ziploc bags are perfect for holding a single baby or toddler outfit (diaper, onesie, top, bottom, socks). Not only does this system keep wrinkles at bay, it makes choosing wee outfits a breeze.

Roll, don't fold, t-shirts and leggings. T-shirts and other casual cottony items stay in good shape when they aren't allowed to flop around in your suitcase. Place a shirt face down on a bed or table, fold the sleeves back to form a rectangle, fold again lengthwise, and roll it up tight. Place rolled tees and leggings side-by-side in your suitcase or inside a packing cube.

Master the square fold. For sweaters and button-down tops, the square package fold you see at retail chain stores is your best bet. Button all buttons, then lay your shirt front down on a bed and smooth out any wrinkles. Pull each shoulder about three inches into the center, creating a vertical fold on each side and laying arms flat along the edge. You should now have a narrow overlap of material on both sides, and the overall shape should be rectangular. Next, fold up a third of the material from the bottom, then fold down the top third of the garment.

The result should be a flat square (or near square) worthy of any Banana Republic or Anthropologie store.

Pack undies in zip-top bags. Again, the idea is to keep loose items from shifting around in your suitcase. The gallon-size bags or small packing cubes are perfect for keeping your private items together. And there's a bonus: If your bag gets inspected at the airport security checkpoint, nobody will touch your underwear since the items are clearly visible in the transparent bag.

Mind the gaps. Socks, scarves, and other soft accessories are great for wedging between packing cubes, zip-top bags and inside shoes (which should be wrapped in shower caps or plastic bags to keep clothes clean). Speaking of shoes, tuck a dryer sheet into each to keep everything in your suitcase smelling fresh. 

Spritz on a wrinkle releaser. Pack a travel-size spray bottle of Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus and you can get rid any remaining creases that might occur. Just hang up the clothing item and give it an even spray from several inches away. Wrinkles disappear in a few minutes with just a few spritzes.

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