Guide on Washing Dress Shirts


Dress shirts are a staple in every gentleman’s wardrobe, and they are intended to be worn and not worshipped, which makes them dirty. A high-quality dress shirt, however, can last for several years while still looking beautiful with the proper maintenance. They’re versatile, stylish, and sophisticated. However, washing dress shirts can be daunting, especially when you want to maintain their pristine condition. In this article, we’ll explain how to keep your dress shirts’ excellent appearance for years, break down three of the most popular cleaning techniques and how to handle unique emergencies, and offer some additional cleaning advice. The fragile fabric may be damaged by improper care, which can also cause shrinkage and color fading.

General Guides on Washing Dress Shirts

Although it should be simple to wash a dress shirt like any other item of clothing, this is not always the case. If your clothing is stained, it becomes a complicated process. Consequently, you should separate your dress shirt and wash it, preferably by hand, rather than placing it in the washing machine.

1. Read the Label

Before anything else, it’s crucial to read the care label on your dress shirt. This small tag contains vital information on washing and treating your shirt. The most critical information you require from your label is whether your shirt may be machine-washed or needs to be dry-cleaned. Not all men’s dress shirts can be washed in the machine. If it says it can go in the washer, notice if it says “gentle” or “delicate.” Following these guidelines will ensure your shirt’s longevity and prevent any damage from improper washing techniques.

2. Prepare for Washing

First, unbutton all buttons on your dress shirt, including the collar and cuffs. This helps prevent damage to the controls and ensures that all areas of the shirt are cleaned thoroughly. Sort your dress shirts according to fabric type and color. The inside of your collar and cuffs should also receive additional care because this is where dirt can collect. Before washing, flip your dress shirt inside out. Better underarm odor removal and fade prevention will result from doing so. Next, pretreat any stains with a stain remover or gently rub a small amount of detergent onto the affected area. Allow it to sit for a few minutes before proceeding with washing.

3. Choose the Right Detergent

Selecting a gentle detergent for delicate fabrics is vital when washing dress shirts. These detergents will effectively clean your shirt without causing damage to the material. Avoiding products containing bleach or other harsh chemicals that could lead to fabric discoloration or degradation is also recommended.

4. Washing Process and Techniques

There are ways of washing your dress shirt, whether thorough or machine washing. Handwashing is the most gentle method for cleaning dress shirts. Add the recommended amount of detergent to a sink or basin after filling it with cold water per the detergent’s directions. Submerge your dress shirt, gently swishing it in the water to remove dirt and stains. Rinse thoroughly by replacing the soapy water with clean water until no soap residue remains.

On the other hand, if you prefer machine washing, place your dress shirt in a mesh laundry bag to protect it from damage such as snagging. To stop the cloth from shrinking or being harmed, select the delicate cycle and use cold water. Add the recommended amount of detergent and start the washing cycle.

5. Drying Your Dress Shirt

Your washing machine’s spin cycle does a fantastic job of removing most of the water from your dress shirts. However, you should avoid using the dryer for dress shirts, as high heat can cause shrinkage and weaken the fabric. Instead, gently squeeze out excess water without twisting or wringing your shirt. Once the load is finished, the shirts will be a jumbled mess in the washing machine. So, as soon as you can, take off the damp clothing. After removing each shirt, shake out the wrinkles by holding it up in front of you by the collar or shoulders. Make a couple of quick, forceful snaps on it. Lay it flat on a clean towel, removing any wrinkles or folds. Afterward, hang it on a sturdy hanger and let it air-dry completely. 

6. Ironing Your Dress Shirt

Once your dress shirt is dry, ironing can help remove any remaining wrinkles or creases. Set your iron to the appropriate heat according to your shirt’s fabric type. To avoid any burns or shine from direct iron contact, place a press cloth, such as a light cotton towel, over your shirt.

Different Methods of Washing Dress Shirts

Dress shirts can be difficult to wash, but they don’t have to be! There are numerous quick, simple, and efficient ways to wash dress shirts. The way you wash your dress shirt will depend on the circumstances. Since sweat stains can be best eliminated with water, you should use your home washing machine in this situation. If it has grease and oil stains, you should take your dress shirt to the dry cleaners. Hand washing is the mildest cleaning method for a dress shirt made of a delicate material. Here are the three most common methods of washing and maintaining the pristine condition of your dress shirts.

1. Wash and Press at the Dry Cleaners

When you take dress shirts to the cleaners, the “normal” method of cleaning them is to wash and press them. You take your shirt to the “dry-cleaners,” but unless you specifically ask them to dry clean it, they are probably just doing a wash and press. Stay clear of this. This cleaning procedure is inexpensive and keeps the shirts looking wonderful for just a few dollars for each garment, not to mention the most convenient method. When you take your dress shirt to the cleaner, they use water and detergent to wash your clothing in a typical washing machine. They also use the washing machine’s spin cycle to remove most water from the dress. The wet shirt is then pulled onto an industrial shirt press, which closes over it and irons the fabric while squeezing out all the moisture.

However, the downside of this method is that some dry cleaners may treat the clothing too harshly. Buttons may crack or chip when the press is slammed over the shirt’s front. When the shirt is steam-dried, stretching the body or sleeves over the press might widen these parts. The collars of the shirts will frequently be damaged in some way while transporting them from the cleaners to your closet, necessitating additional ironing for the best possible appearance.

2. DIY Home Washing

You might want to wash your dress shirts at home if you don’t trust your dry cleaner or want more control over how your shirts are cleaned. Most individuals like this approach, but it will take effort and attention to accomplish it right. When washing your most prized dress shirt at home, remember to use your washing machine’s delicate cycle option to reduce wear on a fine or light dress shirt.  

However, you may choose the Normal cycle if the shirt is soiled or made of a heavier-duty fabric. Hot water can be used on whites and light colors, while cold water should be used to wash dark clothing so they don’t fade. Be careful not to add any other laundry that has bright colors because they can bleed onto your clothing. Use a top-notch detergent that matches the color of the dress. Using chlorine-based detergents or cleaners should be avoided as they will stain the fabric of many shirts.

3. Dry Cleaning at the Professional Cleaners

While dry cleaning cotton dress shirts are not advised, some people still take their shirts to the cleaners and get them done that way. This cleaning approach has several drawbacks, even though it won’t harm the shirt and will reduce shrinkage. The first is that it can be pricey and that perspiration and other water-soluble stains are not eliminated. Sweat-based filth can be left intact because dry cleaning chemicals contain little or no water. Dress shirts can be cleaned more effectively with water to remove sweat and dirt stains. If it has an oil-based stain, you might have more success getting your dress shirt cleaned by a dry cleaner than in a washing machine.

4. Handwashing

Washing dress shirts by hand can be the most excellent option if they are made of expensive or delicate fabrics. First, add cool to lukewarm water to a container. Fill the container with a premium liquid laundry detergent. Read the label’s directions and add the correct quantity. Put the shirt in the water and let it sit for five to ten minutes. Till the clothing has been thoroughly cleansed, agitate it in the water with your hands. Rinse the clothing in cool water until the water is clear and all the soap has been removed. On a soft cloth, spread the shirt evenly, then wrap it up like a sushi roll. Finally, on a drying rack indoors, air dry by hanging or lying flat.  

Factors to Consider When Washing Dress Shirts

Generally, a dress shirt should be washed before wearing. It needs to be spotless and odor-free. These requirements are essential elements of the appearance anticipated from men’s formal attire, like a dress shirt. Meanwhile, how you wash your shirt will also impact how long it will last, and there is an aesthetic component to washing a dress shirt as it will lose some of its crispness and sheen with each wash. When washing a dress shirt, there are several things to consider, including the fabric, the color, the kind of stain, and the care recommendations.

1. Fabric – Different fabrics respond to water and detergents in different ways. Some colors may, therefore, run or fade in the washer. Dress shirts for men look their finest when made of cotton. Another option is wool, which can be less forgiving of creases than cotton. Although linen is a wrinkle-resistant, breathable fabric, its color might deteriorate.

2. Stains – Different stains will call for various cleaning techniques. The right way to wash it, whether in hot or cold water, and whether it should be line- or machine-dried are both specified in the care instructions. Cold water or club soda can remove blood, wine, and coffee. Detergents could be needed to handle stains like oil that are more difficult to remove. It would be preferable to treat any stains or streaks because they are more challenging to remove when the garment is dry.

3. Type of Water – Your dress shirt should be hand-washed in cold water and line-dried. But if your shirt is made of synthetic material, wash it in warm water and dry it in the dryer.

4. Method of Ironing – You can iron it while it’s still damp to remove creases and bring back its crispness and sheen. Take the garment out of the washer and let it air dry, either hanging it on a line or lying it flat to dry on a drying rack. Avoid the dryer and its tumble-dry settings when caring for your dress shirts. Learn how to hang a dress shirt to reduce the number of trips to the dry cleaners. Your garment will stay wrinkle-free and wearable if you do this.

5. Color – Men typically wear dress shirts, which come in various colors. Pay closer attention to care instructions for colored shirts because some colors may run or fade in the wash.


It’s easier than it might seem to wash a dress shirt. A guy can maintain his dress shirts looking their best for many years by following the proper procedures and considering the numerous aspects involved. There are a few more expert suggestions you can try to maintain dress shirts in excellent condition. First, instead of using an iron to iron out wrinkles, think about utilizing a garment steamer. Steam is kinder to fabrics and can help avoid harm from too much heat.Avoid using fabric softeners or dryer sheets since they can leave a residue on the fabric that dries out the fibers and makes them less breathable. To organically soften the fabric, use wool dryer balls or a vinegar rinse.

Moreover, to ward off moths and other insects that can harm the fabric, think about using cedar hangers or sachets. To avoid scorching or blistering, use the proper heat setting for the fabric type when ironing your dress shirts. You can help your dress shirts last longer and look their best by using the advice in this article.