Washing a Dress Shirt Tips

Washing a dress shirt isn’t rocket science, but here are a few helpful tips to ensure your dress shirt gets laundered properly and effectively.

Drop off Laundering Service and/or Dry Cleaning:

Most men opt for the laundry service at their local dry cleaners. This is convenient, relatively inexpensive, and primarily the same type of washing machine process that you do at home; with exception to their drying method which is usually done using an industrial pressing machine. It’s important to note that if you happen to have un-fused collars, make sure the cleaners hand press the collar from the tip towards the backside so there are no unnatural gathers or puckering toward the tips or edges. If you choose to have your shirts actually dry cleaned – where the washing process includes dry chemicals to remove dirt and odor – keep in mind that not all stains will be removed; especially any greasy or oily food stains as well as yellowing from deodorant and perspiration. Although shrinkage is minimal, perhaps it’s not the most ideal method for cotton dress shirts, and it can be costly compared to the laundering service. Also, PLEASE NOTE two additional aspects of dry cleaning that you must be aware of: because the cleaners typically iron and hang the shirt on a wire hanger very soon after, bulging creases are created on each side of the collar. These bulges can be very obvious when wearing, as this area essentially frames each side of the neck. Refer to the  Proper Way To Iron a Dress Shirt article to learn how to quickly fix this problem at home and put the natural rounded curve back into the collar.  Next, if you store your shirt in the plastic dry cleaning cover for an extended period of time of one year or more, it will cause yellowing. The cleaning product Oxi-Clean can help remove these stains, but it’s better to take precautions and not store your shirts in the plastic covers.

Do-it-yourself Method:

  • Make sure to remove the collar stays and put them somewhere they won’t slide down in between or behind the washer and dryer. It’s also important to unbutton all the buttons.
  • Check for and treat stains. Most stains are easily removed during washing when treated with a stain treatment spray – there are several on the market.
  • Wash on gentle cycle – warm for light colors and cold for dark. White dress shirts do well using Oxi-Clean – it’s an important whitening aspect without bleach. Do not use laundry detergent with any type of chlorine bleach.
  • Remove promptly from washer and lightly shake out the shirt. Hang or lay flat to dry. If hanging, do not use a hanger made of wire as the metal can potentially stain the shirt. Also, avoid drying in the dryer, but in case of an “emergency,” dry on low heat until it’s slightly damp, and remove to iron the remaining liquid out of the shirt. Drying completely will cause too much shrinkage and misshape the shirt.
  • The final step before wear is ironing. http://www.mytailor.com/manual/proper-way-to-iron-a-dress-shirt/

Additional Wash and Care Tips:

– If you happen to get a food or drink stain while out to dinner, promptly head to the bar to request soda water and a cloth napkin. Lightly soak the napkin tip with the water and dab on stain until it starts to dissipate. For red sauce or red wine, further treatment with hand soap and hot water in the restroom will be necessary.

– Pick up a stain pen the next time you’re at the store and keep with you at all times (several clothes soap brands now carry them). If you invest in made-to-measure shirting, it’s a shame to have one ruined by a stain that could have been removed before it set.

– High-quality dress shirts are not meant to be starched because the collars and cuffs are created to look crisp without it. Starch breaks down the fibers in the shirt and depletes its life. Starching the body and sleeves of the shirt also cause more wrinkles during wear because of the stiffness creating; losing the attractive billowing effect as well.  If you like the stiff aspect that starch adds, perhaps opt for light starch.