Featured | Menswear | Shirts

How to Wash and Care for your Dress Shirts

Lloyd Hughes

How to wash and care for your dress shirts.

You’ve bought an expen­sive dress shirt and it’s about time for a clean­ing. Now what? “How to wash your dress shirts” is one of the more com­mon ques­tions we receive.  As men, we under­stand how frus­trat­ing this can be since we’ve prob­a­bly shrunk a shirt or two before. With the prop­er care, there is no rea­son to wor­ry when wash­ing your shirts. We’ve got some sim­ple rules, meth­ods, and tips for your dress shirt care reg­i­men. Just fol­low these and you’ll have that crispy new-shirt feel­ing after every clean­ing.

How to wash your dress shirts

A crispy and clean white shirt

How to Wash Your Dress Shirts At Home

1. Unbut­ton all but­tons, don’t for­get cuffs and col­lars.

2. Remove any col­lar stays. Some are fused into the col­lar, so leav­ing them in is not an issue.

3. Pre-treat any stains with deter­gent or spot clean (be care­ful and test in a small area first to check for col­or fast­ness). One great prod­uct to try is the col­lars and cuffs bar from The Laun­dress. This prod­uct works great for pre-treat­ing those tough ring around the col­lar stains.

4. Use the del­i­cate cycle (or hand-wash where avail­able) for light­weight fab­ric (e.g. Broad­cloths and Poplins). For heav­ier fab­rics (e.g. Oxfords or Pin­points), choose the nor­mal cycle.

5. Hot or warm water is per­fect­ly fine for whites or light col­ors. Use cold water for dark col­ors or col­ors that might bleed.

6. For deter­gent, Woo­lite is a great choice. Avoid any­thing that is chlo­rine-based. It can turn that deep blue into a sky blue if you’re not care­ful. Also, fab­ric soft­en­er can coat your fab­ric, mak­ing it even hard­er to get those stains out so use them with cau­tion.

7. Use a spin cycle get most of the water out of the gar­ment, opt­ing for a slow­er speed for your del­i­cate fab­rics.

8. Once the wash cycle is com­plete, remove them quick­ly oth­er­wise let­ting them sit for too long will allow the fab­ric to devel­op wrin­kles.

9. Rather than using the dry­er, hang up the shirt to dry instead. Use round­ed hang­ers to avoid sharp hang­er marks once dry. More about why dry­ing is detri­men­tal to your shirt below.

10. Iron the shirts once they are slight­ly damp. Avoid starch as this can embed into the cloth and wear out your shirt pre­ma­ture­ly.

How to wash your dress shirts - collar stains removed using the laundress bar for dress shirt care

Pre-treat­ing col­lar stains using a stain bar from The Laun­dress.


At the drycleaners as part of your dress shirt care regimen

A famil­iar sight; Gar­ments all wrapped up after their clean­ing.

How to Wash and Dry Your Dress Shirts at the Dry-Cleaners.

1. Pick a local dry-clean­er and have them wash and press some old­er shirts first. In this way even if they dam­age them, you won’t lose sleep over it. Find the next best clean­er or do a quick Google search for the best rat­ed ones.

2. Some­times they assume you want the shirts dry-cleaned. Make sure to ask them for a wash and press only. The actu­al chem­i­cals they use to dry-clean can be detri­men­tal to the fab­ric and may leave the shirt devoid of its orig­i­nal char­ac­ter­is­tics.

3. Iden­ti­fy tough stains to them. This is what they’re good at and they can real­ly help in remov­ing trou­ble­some spots. Be care­ful, their stain removers are high poten­cy so it’s best to seek their advice first.

How to naturally hang dry your dress shirt

The use of round­ed hang­er ends can be seen through the shirt. This pre­vents any harsh dim­ples form­ing when hung to dry.

A caveat to using dry-cleaners.

Clean­ers use a heavy duty indus­tri­al press, and this can some­times dam­age or even crack the shirt’s moth­er of pearl but­tons. Not only that, the deter­gent they use may not be the best espe­cial­ly since they’re using large indus­tri­al size machines for wash­ing.

Although the press­ing is fan­tas­tic, and not eas­i­ly repli­cat­ed at home, we rec­om­mend iron­ing your more del­i­cate and expen­sive shirts at home.

How to wash your dress shirts - Industrial press used for pressing in dress shirt care

A typ­i­cal indus­tri­al press used by laun­dro­mats, hotels, and oth­er estab­lish­ments that see high vol­ume of gar­ment clean­ing.


dry cleaner garment rack for the proper in dress shirt care

Gar­ments hang­ing on the dry clean­er mov­able rack.

Avoid the dryer in your dress shirt care routine.

Unless you’re strapped for time, leave your shirts out of the dry­er. These machines actu­al­ly rob cot­ton of mois­ture which will short­en a fabric’s lifes­pan more so than any oth­er fac­tor. Not to men­tion, a good chance you’ll encounter shrink­age which may com­plete­ly alter the fit of your favorite shirt. It’s best to not take any chances.

How to Wash Your Dress Shirts When You’re Not at Home.

We’re assum­ing that you’re in a hotel or at a friend’s house.  If this is the case, lock in stains with a pre-stain remover.  After­wards, place the shirt in the wash with a very light deter­gent and use a del­i­cate wash with cold water.  If you don’t have a wash­er, pur­chase a sin­gle deter­gent serv­ing and hand wash in a bath of cold water (i.e. a sink).  There­after, hang the shirt on a hang­er and let it air dry.  This isn’t an ide­al sce­nario but it will work if you’re in a bind.

Still have some unre­solved ques­tions? Shoot us an email and we can cer­tain­ly help you out!

Custom Dress Shirts