Dr. Ruth Benerito, a chemist who worked to develop wrinkle-free cotton, passed away at age 97 in her home in Metairie, Louisiana. The widespread availability of permanent-press cotton in the sixties saved many a sharp dresser — and the people who kept them looking sharp — from hours of labor-intensive ironing. The Times calls permanent press "one of the most significant technological developments of the twentieth century."
Benerito’s work earned her a spot in the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2008, but she maintained strict humility about her achievements. In a video interview produced in 2004 by her longtime employer the United States Department of Agriculture, she noted:
I don’t like it to be said that I invented wash-wear, because there were any number of people working on it, and there are various processes by which you give cotton those properties. No one person discovered it or was responsible for it. But I contributed to new processes of doing it.
All modesty aside, Benerito’s work in fabric sciences paved the way for other significant improvements to cotton, including stain-resistant and flame-retardant cotton. So she’s to thank for all the smooth, clean, unburned qualities of your tanks, tees, and sundresses.
Most Viewed Stories
I Worked at Fyre Festival. It Was Always Going to Be a Disaster.
Famous Guests Were Reportedly Warned Not to Go to Fyre Festival in Advance
Life Lessons From the Great Fyre Festival Disaster
The Kardashians Just Broke Up With the Stylist They’ve Been Using for a Decade
Why Wallflowers Don’t Make Friends
This Fyre Festival Apology Is As Extra As You’d Expect
Don’t Follow Pippa Middleton’s ‘Extremely Restrictive’ Wedding Diet
These Tweets Will Make You Very Glad That You Didn’t Spend Thousands of Dollars to Get Stranded in the Bahamas
Female Dragonflies Fake Their Own Deaths to Avoid Males
It’s a Girl for Ciara and Russell Wilson
The Cut’s Latest Love and War FeaturesA Holiday Season Weekend Through London
A good guide for avid The Crown fans.It’s About Time You Learned Tove Lo’s Name
The singer has crafted pop hits you’ve heard a thousand times by now.Marina Abramovic Has Outlasted Her Lovers and, She Hopes, Her Critics
The world's most famous performance artist at 70.The Wing: Do Women Still Need a Space of Their Own?
This exclusive social club for women, is part sorority, part start-up.In Virtual Reality, Women Run the World
A new generation of female artists is making VR the most diverse corner of the male-dominated tech space.The Novelist Disguised As a Housewife
Shirley Jackson wrote 17 books while raising four children — and she couldn't have had a successful career without them.Ava DuVernay on Hollywood Racism, Modern-Day Slavery, and Why She’s Still an Optimist
The director, whose new documentary The 13th chronicles America’s history of racial subjugation, talks to Rebecca Traister about Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the modern criminal-justice system.What No One Tells Couples Trying to Conceive
It helps to be rich.The Hidden Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race
A segregated unit of mathematicians born of desperation during World War II became the secret to NASA’s success.Slut-Shaming Squids Are Everywhere
The “Bermuda Square” comic strip is back.
The collaboration that dreams are made of.Good Morning America Host Amy Robach Apologizes for Saying ‘Colored People’ on Air
She quickly apologized.Unknown NFL Player Tries to Get Attention by Asking Aly Raisman Out in Video
That’s one way to do it.Don’t Mess This Up, Mischa Barton
Marissa Cooper is poised for a comeback ... maybe.California Votes to Remove Time Limit on Prosecuting Rape Cases
In light of the Bill Cosby case.Beyoncé’s Behind-the-Scenes Lemonade Photos Belong in a Museum
She had the "Boycott Beyoncé" sign already in formation on set.The Rise of the Male Celebrity Full-Frontal
An ex-publicist explains.Gabby Douglas Will Be a Miss America Judge
The gold-medal gymnast will help choose the 2017 pageant winner.Camille Becerra’s Photo Diary of Rockaway Beach
An ideal trip to add and cross off your summer bucket list.Sorry Nerds, Ian McKellen Won’t Officiate Your Expensive Lord of the Rings–Themed Wedding
Not even for $1.5 million.