How To Wash Dress Shirts.

When you’re spending your hard-earned cash on quality dress shirts, it’s important to take care of your investment. You’ve made the effort, and taken the time to learn what distinguishes a great dress shirt from an average one, so take your knowledge one step further and learn how to keep your shirt looking good.


Treat Your Dress Shirt Like A Pair Of Jeans

You know how you treat your jeans? They don’t need to be washed every time you wear them. In fact, the less you wash them, the better they look and the longer they last. Manufacturers of jeans go so far as to say “don’t wash your jeans until they are visibly dirty”. If you follow the basic principles here, you’ll have the starting point for taking care of your valuable dress shirts.

For most men, the statement “wash only when dirty” is still going to mean wash after every wearing. Office workers are going to wear them all day, and formal occasions usually involve wearing dress shirts under suits, or activities such as dancing at weddings. All of these situations are going to mean that the shirt needs to be washed. However, if you have a reason to only wear your shirt for a shirt time, say an hour at a time, then simply remove it and hang it up until next time. This time of shirt term use can get away with quiet a number of uses before requiring a wash.


Signs Of The Times

Laundry_GuideIf you’re not defaulting to a wash, then check out some of the more visible areas for clues to cleanliness. Look on the inside cuffs for grey or brown staining as this areas is one of the quickest to dirty. Have a look at the inside collar for similar marks, as it doesn’t take much for this area to mark too. Perhaps the most important area of the shirt to check is the underarm, as this area can obviously offend with smell as well as sight.

Professional Tip: The best action you can take to protect your dress or business shirt is actually to wear an undershirt. Singlets may help keep you warmer in cool climates, but an undershirt can keep your shirts looking good much, much longer. Since an undershirt is actual like wearing a t-shirt under your dress shirt, it has shirt sleeves and protects your dress shirt from perspiration and odours. Try out different undershirts to find one that suits you best, since you don’t want to be too hot either.


Getting Down To Business

Washing_Machine_AgitatorWashing dress shirts doesn’t have to be difficult. Some simple steps can make this easy and efficient.

Firstly, a quick spot clean is worth it. Use a localised stain remover on any visible marks or stains, paying particular attention to the cuffs, collar, and underarms. It only takes minute.

Now use a decent quality detergent. Why throw cheap chemicals all over your quality shirts? It makes no sense! Also, you won’t need to use as much, so don’t overdue it. This is definitely a case of “less is more”.

Secondly, bag it. use a laundry bag. It simple stops shirt from getting caught up in and around other clothes. Simple, but helpful.

Thirdly, use a modern washing machine. Older machines have agitators in the centre, and these have regularly stretched, ripped and torn many clothes, not t mention having removed numerous buttons. Save yourself the tears and invest in a newer machine that doesn’t have a centre agitator. If you can’t avoid it, then the laundry bag is even more important, and use the gentlest, most delicate wash cycle available.


Finally, resist the temptation to use a drier. Drying machines can ruin the shape of your clothes, so simply hang your clothes to dry and you’ll add years to their life.

Oh, I almost forgot. Make sure you have a quality iron as well. Otherwise you could easily undo all you hard work so far and ruin your shirt. We’ll cover ironing skills another day.


Hopefully, this was helpful for you and all goes well.



2 thoughts on “How To Wash Dress Shirts.

  • August 24, 2017 at 7:52 pm

    How do you remove yellowing on white dress shirts collar and cuffs due to using spray starch?

    • September 2, 2017 at 5:51 am

      Sorry for taking so long, but I wanted to give you something more than ‘use bleach’, or ‘soak in in lemon juice’. Just for future reference though, it’s a good idea to avoid starching collars and cuffs if you can help it, for reasons that already know, it causes build up and can cause yellow. There is also the risk of burning the starch while ironing if your iron is too hot. Most quality business shirts these days do not require starch as the design is either for a firm cuff/ collar, and insert collar stays is a better option, or, some brands deliberately design for the soft fold look. Choose your preference and try to avoid starching.
      There are a number of novel ways that people claim have work, and I would only even think about trying them on your shirt if you have reached the point of desperation. So, here’s one that I would actually try. Put your shirt in a warm water wash, adding two cups of cidar vinegar and about two cups of Finish Advanced Dishwasher detergent! I Know! But apparently the starch will be gone.
      Something to note is that yellowing is more than likely to occur from slightly burning the starch when ironing, so it pays to be careful and really use the steam to relax the shirt as you iron.
      I know I joked about lemon juice but soaking the collar in lemon juice and putting it in the sun is a tried an true approach so once you are sure you’ve removed the starch and you’re down to getting the white back, it may be worth a shot.

      Personally, if I had a shirt that bad that I was not prepared to replace, I would try the Finish detergent approach, then hit with some lemon juice bleaching, then rinse out the lemon juice. I would then go for another warm water wash using a detergent booster powder such as Sard Wonder Ultra Whitening and use a bluing agent such as Bluo, which is an in wash optical brightener.

      Most of these ideas should be kept far away from any quality business shirt as they will shorten its life and somewhat damage the fabric over time. However in emergencies and when you just can’t bring yourself to throw it away, these methods might just be worth a shot.

      Let me know how it goes! Best of luck!


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