How To Properly Wash A Man’s Dress Shirt?
This is a question that Brian has been asking me multiple times via multiple channels, so I have to get to it.
I have to admit that I almost felt that it’s something that I thought everybody knew how to do, but apparently people wanted to know how I am cleaning my dress shirts.
That’s a pretty good question because most of my dress shirts are pretty pricey but I get them at a pretty big discount because I design them and we build them ourselves.
I’ve got a few dress shirts that I leave in my studio and I’ll put them on and I’ll wear them multiple times because usually I’m only wearing them maybe 30 minutes to a couple of hours each time when I’m down here and then I’ll take them off and wear something else when I’m going around the office.
So how do I deal with dirty dress shirts and when do I wash them?
When do I determine if a dress shirt is dirty?
I usually will look around the neck and the cuffs. That’s where I’ll start to see dirt and deposits. It comes right off of your skin, oil and grime as you’re going through the day, stuff that picks up from the air.
That’s where I first notice. Occasionally, I will get a coffee stain or something on there, but most of the time, I start to see a little bit of ring around the collar. Why is this important?
Why don’t you just wash it after every wear?
The reason that’s important is because think of your dress shirt as having a very limited life because it does. Every time you wash that dress shirt, you’ve got only so many more times you’re going to be able to wash it before it falls apart or becomes unwearable.
I like to tell guys think that you can wash this dress shirt only 100 times. Now, how many times you can wear it between those 100 washes is up to you.
I find that it depends on how much I’m sweating and how long I wear it in the day. If I wear a dress shirt only for a couple of hours, I’m going to wear it a few more times.
If I wear that dress shirt and I’d be wearing it for a 12-hour day and I’ve been sweating, I can look and I can feel that this dress shirt needs to be washed. If you’re an architect working outside down in Florida there in the summer, you’re going to want to wash your dress shirts every single day.
If you’re up in Victoria, Canada and working outside only a couple hours and you’re sitting at a desk most of the time, you may find that you could take that shirt off at the end of the day and it’s not really dirty at all.
Wearing it two, maybe three days over the period of a month could still be doable. What I am saying though is try not to wash your clothing unless it is truly dirty and it’s going to last longer.
Avoid the dryer. The dryer is something that’s going to destroy your high-end dress shirts. Just let them hang out to dry but if you have to use the dryer, pull them out while they’re still moist.
Avoid bleach. It eats away the cotton. Bleach is cool for undershirts, socks but not for high-end dress shirts.
Avoid overdoing it with detergent. As guys, we like to think, “Oh, well, this is a dirty shirt and if one scoop is good, then maybe five or six scoops is even better.”
Don’t waste your money. It’s better to wash it a couple of times with less detergent than to think that you could put in five scoops and get it all with one time going through.
If you’re going to use a detergent, use a good one. I use Tide. I’ve used some lower-end detergents and I find that oftentimes, you often get what you pay for in detergent.
A lot of people are going to say, “Well, with Tide, you’re paying for the brand.” Well, it’s a small amount of money for the amount of time that it takes me to go back and see that it missed a stain and have to go back.
I’ll oftentimes take just a bit of detergent and rub it right in with a toothbrush. We’ve got a toothbrush down there in the laundry room and I can just rub it right in and it will go in there and set for a few minutes before I throw it into the wash.
I also use OxiClean and if you haven’t heard of it, it’s a great product. It basically augments any type of detergent you’re using. So if you’re using a lower end detergent or one that isn’t really getting the job done, OxiClean will really go in there.
Be careful with it and don’t use too much. Use it on a dress shirt that does not bleed. If your dress shirt bleeds, you’re going to find that OxiClean may make that thing much lighter.
It’ll take a red shirt and it’ll make it pink, so be careful with OxiClean. A dress shirt that is lighter colored, in many cases, it helps a lot especially with anything around the collar.
Now, when it comes to armpit stains if you get any type of yellow armpit stains, that’s often caused by your deodorant. There’s this stuff that’s called Deo-Go and I know the guy that has a company here in the US, and this is specifically made to remove yellow armpit stains.
I know the Art of Manliness just did an article on yellow armpit stains and I wish they would’ve tested Deo-Go because Deo-Go, the best thing about it is that the armpit stains do not come back.
If you use OxiClean, occasionally the armpit stains do come back. I’ve also noticed this on other stains with OxiClean, is it will remove them, but I think it doesn’t exactly fully remove the stain. It leaves some type of debris that can later on take back to the coloring.
This is specifically made for armpit stains. I haven’t found anything out there that’s specifically made for a ring around the collar, but OxiClean does a great job of removing that. And for just general washing, just a bit of Tide.
By the way, you can use even less than they recommend. I oftentimes only use half as much detergent as what they recommend. It really is a bit of an overkill I think for most efficient washers today.
That is how I clean dress shirts. By the way, I do not put them in the dryer. I let them hang out and then I will iron them later. I have to iron actually my dress shirts when they’re a bit moist.
I wish you guys the best of luck when you’re washing your clothes. If you have more questions about men’s style, go to mensstyleqa.com.