How To Wash A Dress Shirt

Washing a dress shirt can be quite different depending on various different circumstances.

Does it have a stain?

What material is it made out of?

Are you planning to wash more than one at the same time?

blue dress shirt in washer

These are just a few questions of the many that will need to be answered well before you can completely go into washing. On top of that, there are multiple different ways you can wash dress shirts too. Truly, the options and questions can go on for days when it comes to this topic. You may even wonder how to properly wash a dress shirt yourself.

Now, you can rest easy. As long as you read this article to completion, you'll know the myriad of ways it can be done. This way, you won't have to worry about any possible problems. On top of this, we'll also discuss other things you can do beyond washing yourself. Let's get started now!

The Simple Concept:

Obviously, there really isn't any better place to start than the simple concept first. Things can get complicated, but they do not always have to be. Thus, we should tell you that the easiest way to wash any dress shirt is to put them in your washing machine. You'll want to set the washer to what is best for the shirt itself.

man wearing checkered dress shirt putting clothes in washer

Usually, the instructions on how to wash it will be seen on the tag around the neck. It'll go over the materials in the shirt and you'll need to pay close attention to this. Of course, that also means that it is not best to wash a bunch of dress shirts in the same load. If by chance they are all the same material and have the same instructions, that is fine. The problem comes when they do not!

For example, a shirt made of 100% Cotton can usually be washed with other clothes that do not shed. It can also be washed in both hot and cold usually. Therefore, you're not going to have to worry so much about how you wash it in a washing machine. Then you have shirts that might be thinner or possibly one made with silk material.

assorted dress shirts in a basket

In that case, you may need to wash it in cold. That also means that unless otherwise specified, washing it in cold with other shirts is not a problem unless, again, those shirts also have specific directions.

Color Difference:

Most new-age washing machines are not like those of the past. They can wash whites and colors in the same load. That's right people, washing machine racism is no longer a thing! As a result, you can wash color shirts with white shirts.

However, the big thing regarding color is that it can fade when a shirt is not washed correctly. Additionally, and this should be obvious, but NEVER use bleach on anything other than whites.

separating dress shirts in two baskets

For example, say you have a black shirt as well as a pink one. Naturally, they could be made out of the same material but they may not have the same instructions. The black shirt can be washed in warm or cold, as it does not have to worry about fading.

Meanwhile, the color shirt (depending on the shirt material) may begin to fade after a while if washed on warm/hot.

If you do it accidentally once or twice, there really isn't going to be a problem. This is a "long-term" issue, fading.

dress shirt with white stains

As a result, we always recommend color dress shirts go under a cold wash unless otherwise specified by the maker of the shirt. You can also wash multiple different shirts under this system and not just the color shirt. That means even white shirts can be washed on cold too.

man washing dress shirt with full of soap

Remember, when it comes to germs or any dirtiness of is the soap or washing liquid that matters. The temperature has never once been proven to kill things like this unless it comes to something like a boil. Which is obviously not going to be the temp you see when washing clothes or even your hands.

External Washing:

Some like to use external washing machines, which are often used for the outdoors or in an RV, for example. They are often very cool to use while on the move or for those who live in smaller environments. You might also see these called "mini-washers," or something along those lines.

RV mini washer

Of course, they tend to be smaller than the average washing machine. The same rules for normal washing machines apply to these. Yet due to being smaller, they cannot handle bigger loads. Meaning, it is perfect for something like one shirt or a small few.

Many tend to work on battery power while others work being plugged into an electrical outlet or any other power source. Truly, it is a bit hard to discuss every model of them, but they are usually quite affordable and well worth it if you're trying to save space.

man fixing RV washer and dryer

The way you use one will obviously be like a normal washing machine but since it is smaller, the amount of water used will differ. Since you have to add/replace any water too, it is always good to keep in mind that clean water is important for washing clothing. This is especially true of a dress shirt.

Problematic Stains:

We've all been here, right? It does not matter what type of shirt it is nor the color. Stains can happen all the time, so it is good to know how to remove them and what the best scenario is. You do not want any sort of stain to remain on the shirt long-term nor do you want any flakiness to remain behind from it either.

dress shirt with coffee stains

A lot of people will say to go for the bleach, but this can be a terrible idea when not done correctly. Bleach is a VERY powerful chemical and when not used correctly, it can ruin a shirt. This is why before you use it, you actually have to weaken the bleach slightly.

This is called "Diluting The Bleach."

man putting bleach on colored shirt

However, the safety of using bleach on certain items can still be hard to determine. This is why you'll need to do some type of test to make sure a dress shirt or multiple dress shirts can even have bleach on them. While most tags will tell you this, some sadly do not.

The best way to be sure is to do a simple bleach test. This is the way it can be done:

  • Mix One Teaspoon Of Bleach Into 1/4 Cup Of Water
  • Apply One Drop Of The Solution To A Hidden Spot On Fabric
  • Wait For One Minute & Dry With White Cloth
  • If The Color Does Not Bleed Or Fade, Bleach Should Be Safe To Use

You can also use bleach specifically made for laundry or a bleach pen, which are usually very cheap and can help with stain removal.

Dress shirts can get ruined in the washing machine set on rough cycles. Now, learn how to wash men's dress shirts like a pro by watching this video.


Life Hacks:

Perhaps you do not have any bleach lying around. You may feel that it is too strong for your clothes. A good alternative to this is Hydrogen Peroxide. It is often used to clean open cuts or sores on the human body, so it is obviously strong enough to remove stains. In particular, it is terrific at removing blood stains.

hydrogen peroxide and towels on a washer

We would not know anything about that. Just don't ask us what we did at the farmhouse, that one summer.

Moving on!

It is often said that Club Soda or Soda, in general, can help with removing stains. This is quite true. Apparently, the contents inside soda have a way of attacking most stains as they tend to be from foods or drinks. Keep in mind that soda will not help remove any random chemical stains or things like that. It is truly best to help remove food or drink stains only.

removing dress shirt stain using tissue

You only need a little. Think of it in terms of caps. If you use more than a cap-full on the stain, it is too much. You'll also want to add water after and then dry it as best you can. We'd then advise washing it in your washing machine or in a regular soap in cold water.

Another thing you can use is Vinegar. Though the smell might open up your sinuses, vinegar is similar to soda. You'll want to use just a bit to remove any sort of stain you might have with the latter instructions also primary. On top of this, you'll want to use specifically "Distilled White Vinegar."

vinegar and baking soda with sponge on the side

Baking Soda & Lemon/Lime Juice also can help with stain removal. Although we'd advise only using Lemon/Lime juice for small stains like ketchup or mustard types. They are acidic and able to remove those well, but they are not really good with wine stains, for example.

The Alternative Action:

Sometimes we just cannot get a stain removed from our dress shirt. We tried home remedies but any further attempt may just result in our shirt being ruined. At the end of the day, we do not want that. That is when you take it to the dry cleaner.

man in a dry clean service

Those people are freaking miracle workers. The cleaners often have their own special stuff that can remove problematic stains. They are also masters at simply cleaning your shirt and making it practically look new when you get it back. Of course, this DOES cost money and therefore, we'd recommend only using them when you need to.

If you have the money to blow weekly or monthly here, then, by all means, use the masters! If not, most washing & stain removal can be done at home.

man holding clean dress shirt with cover

If you do decide to use the cleaners, the price is usually fair based on the area you're in. In America, the national average for, say, a shirt is just under $4 without hand-pressing. Of course, this PER-SHIRT too. Thus, you could spend a good bit more than this for multiple dress shirts. However, spending like $20 on this is not really that bad. Keep in mind that this is the national average and does not take any deals a place might have into account.

Since it is STILL spending money, we'd hate to tell you to use them unless you need to. Yet there is no question that they are great to use.

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