Dress shirts are a wardrobe staple for many professionals. But over time, the collars, cuffs and underarms of white and light colored shirts show staining. Read on to learn specialized techniques for washing dress shirts properly at home.

Supplies Needed

Washing dress shirts takes a few special supplies:

  • Mild liquid detergent – powder can leave residues
  • Oxygen bleach – whitens without chlorine
  • Soft brush – for scrubbing stains
  • Mesh laundry bags – protect delicate fabrics
  • Wooden hangers – prevent hanger bumps
  • Iron – presses out wrinkles and resets sizing

Having the right gear makes washing dress shirts easier.

Sorting Dress Shirts

Always wash dress shirts separately from other laundry:

Proper sorting sets up dress shirts for their best wash.

Pretreating Dress Shirts

Target stains immediately before washing using these steps:

  • Mix detergent paste – Make a concentrated paste by mixing powdered detergent with just a bit of water. Apply to stains with soft brush.
  • Know problem areas – Check collars, underarms, and cuffs where stains accumulate.
  • Gently dab stains – Never vigorously scrub dress shirts which can damage fabrics.
  • Let paste sit briefly – Give detergent time to work before washing
  • Rinse paste out – Prevent detergent spots by rinsing shirt before washing

Attacking stains right away prevents them from setting into fibers.

Washing Instructions

Wash dress shirts using proper settings and methods:

  • Wash in mesh bag – Protects fabrics from snags and stretching
  • Use mild detergent – Harsh soaps cause fiber damage over time
  • Wash in warm or hot water – Helps remove body oil and protein stains
  • Additional rinse cycle – Prevents detergent buildup on fabrics
  • Light spin cycle – Prevents wrinkling and distortion of fabrics
  • Promptly remove – Prevents mildew from setting into damp shirts
  • Hang to dry – Allows even drying and prevents heat damage

Customize wash settings based on each fabric’s care requirements.

Drying Dress Shirts

Dry dress shirts with care to prevent new wrinkles:

  • Hang on back collar hook – Helps shirt retain shape vs. clothespins
  • Hang on sturdy wooden hanger – Avoids divots from flimsy plastic hangers
  • Straighten seams – Prevents uneven drying that can skew shirt shape
  • Unbutton collar and cuffs – Allows evenly drying these stain-prone areas
  • Hang in shaded area – Prevent sun fading; inside out prevents dust settling
  • Lightly steam or iron – Touch up any new wrinkles after drying

Proper hanging technique keeps dress shirts looking crisp.

Pressing Dress Shirts

After washing, use ironing to make dress shirts look fresh:

  • Use medium-high heat – High heat risks scorching; low heat won’t properly set fabric and sizing
  • Press back of shirt first – Smooths wrinkles before crisp front visible
  • Starch lightly – Spray starch makes shirt front crisp and smooth
  • Press collar and cuffs – Reset shape in high-wrinkle areas
  • Replace shirt buttons – Laundering can degrade thread; replace loose buttons
  • Check for spots – Steam any lingering stained areas after ironing
  • Hang immediately – Prevents new wrinkles from forming

Proper ironing and finishing makes dress shirts look professionally laundered.

Storing Clean Dress Shirts

Keep dress shirts neat between wears:

  • Let cool before hanging – Prevents closet moisture wrinkling
  • Use felt shoulder pads – Prevent divots from hangers at shoulders
  • Face buttons inward – Reduces risk of snagging on other items
  • Allow breathing room – Avoid cramming tightly to prevent wrinkling
  • Switch out hangers seasonally – Lightweight for summer; heavyweight for winter
  • Hang dress shirts high – Prevents dust and dirt transfer from floor

Proper shirt storage prolongs that fresh-from-the-cleaners look.

Washing Dress Shirts FAQs

Here are some frequently asked dress shirt laundering questions:

How do you get yellow stains out of white shirts?

Soak in oxyclean whitening solution. Hang dry in sun. If severe, try rust remover. May need professional shirt laundry.

How often should you wash dress shirts?

Every 1-2 wears for whites, 2-3 for colors. Wash when visibly soiled. Overwashing shortens lifespan.

Can you put dress shirts in the dryer?

Only briefly on low heat if needed to expedite drying. Air drying is best to prevent damage and wrinkles.

What’s the best temperature for washing dress shirts?

Whites in hot water. Colored shirts and delicates in cool or warm water. Hot water fades bright dyes.

Can you iron dress shirts while they’re still damp?

It’s not recommended. Always fully dry shirts before ironing so starch and sizing sets correctly.

What is the best way to un-wrinkle a shirt?

Hang in bathroom during shower to steam wrinkles out. Or lightly spray with water and iron on medium-high heat. Avoid over-ironing.

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