We got some hot tips from the international Drycleaning & Laundry Institute on how to keep your dress shirt clean and pressed and looking good.
Plain and simple: dress shirts are a man’s life line. Without them we would be in a world of hurt; no longer could you throw on your button-up and look, if not daper, down-right presentable in less than 10 minutes. The dress shirt covers our skinny and keeps us looking cool under pressure. THANKFULLY, it’s here to stay. Lets address a few common issues with dress shirts and then discuss a few ways to care for them.
1. SWEAT RING AROUND THE COLLAR
Number one is by-far the most common issue we see at the cleaners. Most people come in with some version of: “What is this? It’s kind of gross…Can you remove it?” If you think about it, the way dress shirts are meant to be worn almost insures you’ll see this problem. The neck-band and collar fold are often fit tight against the neck and sit there all day long allowing for perspiration, body oils, or even sunblock to soak in.
Although sweat is primarily water, it also contains a decent amount of dissolved minerals, urea, and even some lipids and proteins. Throughout the day these grind-in to the collar and begin to discolor the fabric.
What you want to do is work to 1) prevent these compounds from building up and 2) actively work to remove existing build-up.
First, when it comes to preventing build-up there are a few simple tips:
- KNOW YOUR MEASUREMENTS! Little is worse in the shirt world than buying a shirt that fits your chest and arms but not your neck. (Shirts are often measured in neck/arm length. For example a shirt with the tag 15.5-32/33, means 15.5″ c. neck, 32/33″ long arm).
- If it is allowed at your work place and the shirt is meant for it, wear it casually (aka. don’t button the collar button or wear a tie) during hot days. This will ensure less contact with your skin.
- Next, it may be your favourite shirt but don’t wear it every day. This allows for gunk to build-up on the collar between washes making it harder to remove.
The next best thing to do is to work to remove whatever build-up there might already be, or whatever has built up through weekly wear.
- After a few wears, you can scrub your shirt collars (and likely cuffs) with a little bit of liquid detergent or some cleaning agent like Oxy-clean, stain stick, or Resolve’s Spray N’ Wash.
- If that doesn’t work to remove stains, consider bringing them to a professional cleaners, making sure to mention the “ring around the collar.” Cleaners have access to numerous commercial cleaning agents that work wonders on collar stains like these.
Nota Bene: Some people have found that “Non-Iron” shirts tend to exhibit this issue more often than regular shirts.
2. ANTIPERSPERANT STAINS
If you are like me it’s possible you have either one of two things happening with the under-arm of your shirts: 1) perspiration stains or 2) antiperspirant/deodorant stains.
Most of the rules from section one apply to perspiration stains. The only extra piece of advice: wear an undershirt! This simple step will save you a ton of hassle.
If you’ve ever seen a shirt (perhaps lurking in the back of your closet?) with yellow armpit stains, you’re likely seeing the result of years of sweat and AP. Most experts believe the yellowing is a reaction between the aluminum in your AP and sweat. Lands in you in a Catch-22, don’t it? If you still won’t wear an undershirt here’s a quick list that can help you clean it up.
- Against common sense: don’t use bleach. It’s likely bleach will actually make the stain appear even more yellow. No need to get in to the science here.
- Scrub the discolored areas with Oxi-clean or Raise and then leave to soak for an hour (make sure to check your garment is color-fast before using this method as some colored shirts can lighten up). They honestly can work wonders on your dress shirts.
- Wash immediately after wearing; this makes sure that the stain doesn’t have time to set in.
- Worst case scenario: bring it to your dry cleaners. For a few dollars they should be able to either pull the stain right out or significantly lighten it.
It’s a thing. When trying on a new dress shirt you should know that manufacturers typically allow for 2% shrinkage to occur. This means that a shirt which may be a little snug could end up being a bit more uncomfortable than bargained for (especially be careful if you are buying slim-fitting shirts).
Shrinkage beyond this is usually due to poorly stabilized materials. Even high quality shirts, over several washings, can end up shrinking leaving the neck or chest feeling overly snug.
There’s little that can be done about shrinkage like this. If you think some item has shrunk significantly or if it shrinks and puckers after a few washes it might be best to either bring it back to the store for a refund or contact the manufacturer. It’s likely that there was some defect in production.
Another issue you can run in to with shrinkage is puckering/wrinkling around the seams and placket. The most common places you’ll notice this are: at the yoke (right above the clavicle extending to the top/back of your shoulders), the cuffs, and the placket (the front piece of material with the button holes). This is most commonly seen in older shirts.
Again, there isn’t much that can be done with this issue. If it is rather extreme or the item was new start looking to get a refund. The other option is to get it professionally washed and ironed. The important step is the ironing. Some of these shirts can be pressed with hydraulic presses that will hold the material in place and reduce the puckering. It’s important to note that this is only a temporary fix. It will only last for so long before you need to bite the bullet and order a new shirt.
To get the most mileage out of a dress shirt you should clean it as soon as possible after each wearing to remove stains and body oils. Look at investing either in some Oxi-clean or extra powerful detergents that can lift these stains out.
In the end, it’s always best to get your shirts professionally laundered and pressed. There are a lot of home-remedies to some of these issues, but nothing that works as well as a professionally trained cleaner. It’s simply hard to beat the knowledge and tools they possess. Your collars and arm-pits will come out cleaner and the professional pressing is hard to beat.
If you have any questions about how to remove specific stains or how to care for other items like silk or leather, please leave us a comment or contact us!
The better you take care of your shirts, the longer they will last and the better you will look.