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How to Wash Dress Shirts at Home – Step By Step Guide

Getting ready for a date? Meeting? Or a night out on the town? But then you look through your closet and realize your favorite dress shirts haven’t been washed. Dress shirts accommodate any special occasion with their ultra-stylish and ultra-smooth look.

Due to the difficulty when it comes to washing dress shirts the right way, many seek laundry services since they don’t know how to clean dress shirts. But if you’re like us, who want to save some cash for more critical investments, you would like to find out how to DIY at home.

For people who have never delved into washing laundry and have had laundry services throughout their life, the transition can be intense for some. While researching can be helpful, we have composed a guide list that can emphasize what steps to take for efficient washing.

When you wash dress shirts, without looking into how to wash them, it can result in damaging the fabric or crumpling. This causes frustration and can in turn cause you to look less than formal at any event you decide to wear them in. 

Dress shirts aren’t just dinner attire, they can be useful to wear to work, meetings, or other business-related events. This look not only generates a high value when it comes to impressing bosses or other colleagues but boosts immeasurable confidence.

Did you know? This isn’t just about dress shirts, almost all shirts have a specific way that needs to be washed. This includes tie-dye shirts. Many also ask themselves how to wash tie-dye shirts and how to wash white shirts at home. We have compiled a step-by-step guide for these relevant questions that pertain to every homeowner that feels new to washing clothing and needs a guiding hand.

1) How to wash a dress shirt – STEP 1: Prep the dress shirt and Pre-treat stains.

How do you prep the dress shirt for washing?

Before beginning to wash the dress shirt, the key is to make sure it is prepared for washing. This means unfolding the cuff links, the collar, and making sure to unbutton all the buttons. This is critical to making sure you don’t get any uneven creases.

Prep the dress shirt and Pre-treat stains

Although many decide to skip this step, it can end up causing crumbling due to the folded bits. When thinking about washing clothes, it is important to note that small stains need to be tackled before dumping the shirts into the washing machine. 

This entails, spot treating the stains with detergent or other stain removing solvents. Dropped a cup of coffee on your favorite dress shirt? Act fast! It is important to get to the stain before it sets in, if possible. 

 If the stain has been left there for a little while, it can be still be helped. This means using a little bit of undiluted vinegar and water. This mixture can remove the following stains:

  • Tomato stains
  • Mildew stains
  • Coffee or tea stains
  • Mustard stains

This mixture can work wonders on stains by dabbing or rubbing into the stains before washing. It is recommended to let the solvent soak in for a little while before putting any of the clothes into the machine.

2) Which way to wash a dress shirt? – STEP 2: Machine wash over dry cleaning. 

What is the best way to wash dress shirts?

There is a growing misconception when it comes to taking dress shirts to the dry cleaner, and that’s that they’re not exactly dry cleaned. This could come as a shock to some people, but dry cleaning involves the use of solvents and also machines that are extremely similar to washing machines. 

Machine wash over dry cleaning

When it comes to washing dress shirts, dry cleaning locations usually offer a service called wash and press which can be perfectly done at home. Factoring out the laundry services and the press service, this can be replicated without the need to spend. 

When you wash the dress shirts via machine, the first thing you need to think about is temperature. Being a dress shirt, the whole machine-washing process needs to be delicate to not ruin the fabric. 

This means using cold water to avoid shrinking, loose stitches, and other issues that lead to a decay of quality over time. This also helps when after stains, as warm water tends to increase the chances of the stain set into the fabric making it extremely difficult to get rid of. 

Coldwater also helps to reduce wrinkles and saves you the overwhelming time straightening the shirt afterward. While washing, we recommend using bleach or another whitening enhancer that can help with stain issues.

You could also wash the shirt by hand. How to wash shirts by hand you ask? Simply use the detergent and scrub the dress shirt gently. It is critical to follow these steps while washing for best results when it comes to how to clean dress shirts.

3. The washing process and aftermath – STEP 3: How to avoid significant shrinking.

How to wash the dress shirts to avoid shrinking?

Picture this: you washed your clothing, then dried it in the washing machine, and after doing so you try on the shirts before going out to a big event. You notice that the shirt which fits you perfectly is two times smaller than before.

How to avoid significant shrinking

This eventually leads to frustration, and the next thing you think about is which shirt you can replace it with to go to the event. Shrinking is a normal consequence of machine washing. However, there are ways to reduce shrinking depending on the size of the shirt. 

Usually, fabric shrinking occurs with the length of the shirt. These areas include the sleeves, collar, and body length of the shirt. When you wash dress shirts and dry them, it is important to note that high heat can shrink your shirt. 

Some dry cleaners tend to extend the shirt lengthwise due to their press process. This is another factor that can contribute to the lack of longevity with shirt quality. As we mentioned before, we recommend:

  1. Always use cold water
  2. Take them out of the washing machine while damp
  3. Uncrumple the shirts after taking them out
  4. Hang up with a wooden hanger before drying

Hanging the clothing on sharp hangers or clothing pins can damage the dress shirt or leave a mark. Now that you have washed the dress shirts, next is time for the drying/ironing process. 

4) Drying machine or Air drying? – STEP 4: Drying technique 

Is it safe to use a drying machine for dress shirts?

When it comes to drying the dress shirts, we recommend skipping the drying machine. Many make the crucial mistake, unbeknownst to them, that using the dryer machine will create more wrinkles.

Drying technique

We believe air drying would be a better option or ironing the shirt immediately after removing it from the machine. This will prevent color distortion or the dress shirt fading.

When you are hanging your shirt to dry, it can still be somewhat damp. We encourage hanging the dress shirt on the shower rod of your bathroom, and if you don’t have one then perhaps around a tension rod if you choose to purchase one.

Now – let’s talk about time-saving. When you are in a time crunch or lack time to go through this drying process which could take anywhere from an hour or more, it is safe to use the drying machine as long as it is in a gentle or low setting. By doing this, you will minimize the wrinkling or damage. 

This then leads to the ironing portion of the task, which will be a breeze so long as you follow our directions.

5) Pressing the dress shirt – STEP 5: De-wrinkling solutions 

Is it better to press the dress shirt after it is washed?

Dry cleaners often use pressing after the dress shirts are machine washed. This helps loosen any wrinkles that may have formed during the washing process and prevent any from forming after drying. 

De-wrinkling solutions

Pressing the shirt will help maintain a crisp look that you won’t get by air drying. When it comes to less formal dress shirts, like more casual cotton shirts that can be worn on a day to day basis, air drying is a perfectly fine solution.

However, if you wish to look sharp for that big date or that presentation you’re going to have and don’t have all the time in the world to wait for your damp shirt to air dry then ironing the shirt is the solution.

Some individuals use starch to make the dress shirt slightly more dapper or presentable. The truth is, although it helps define your shirt’s look, it can unintentionally wear out your shirt long term.

This is due to the minuscule fibers within the starch that infiltrate the fabric over time and breaks down. We suggest avoiding this issue altogether and skipping out on the starch. Efficiently ironing the shirt offers the same outcome without the wear and tear aspect. 

As we have mentioned before, it is important to iron the shirt immediately after removing it from the washing machine while it’s still damp. This will enhance the possibilities of fewer wrinkles and add a sharp look to your dress shirt. 

6) Tips and Tricks – STEP 6: Tag information and dress shirt maintenance. 

Are tags useful?

For many homeowners or housewives, one of the typical go-to methods for finding out how to wash clothing is reading the tags. While the tags contain useful information, not all information can be helpful.

Tag information and dress shirt maintenance

Most tags for dress shirts read “dry clean only,” while dry cleaning can certainly be effective for dress shirts, it’s not the only solution for them. Just about any shirt can be cleaned at home.

The importance of these tags can be limited to the fabric information, for example, the following fabrics have explicit instructions:

  1. Polyester, spandex, and nylon can be washed in the machine.
  2. Cotton and linen fabric tend to shrink, it is advisable to use cold water during the washing process.
  3. Wool and silk are fabrics should be hand-washed, as the washing machine could end in wear and tear.

While these instructions hold many key elements that could provide a better insight as to how to wash clothing, we believe that they should be taken lightly.

How to maintain your dress shirt?

Keeping dress shirts nice and clean can be tough, but it is completely possible. When your dress shirt is dirty, leaving it for a prolonged period in your closet will lead to even dirtier consequences. The crease in the collar can start obtaining a yellow color due to the sweat or oil that your body emits over some time.

Immediately washing the shirt can provide a transitional solution. As advised before, we believe it is crucial to unfold the collar before washing as keeping it folded can end in uneven wrinkling in that area. 

Another tip and process we need to reiterate are removing the stain before sticking the dress shirt into the washing machine. You will continue to see that stain, perhaps slightly faded, after removing it from the washing machine if you don’t rub in some detergent on the spot beforehand. 

These steps will continue to prove efficient when it comes to keeping your dress shirts nice and clean.

How to wash Tie-Dye shirts and White Shirts

Cleaning Tie-Dye shirts

When thinking about colorful shirts, none is more vibrant and unique than a tie-dye shirt. However, keeping the shirt from fading or wearing out is important for these shirts as the quality becomes brittle and lifeless. 

The key elements to keeping your tie-dye shirts from losing their color are to take the following steps:

  1. Make sure to wash the tie-dye shirts by themselves, this will prevent discoloration and also keep from staining other shirts
  2. Minimize the loading size and add a smaller size of detergent (less goes a long way)
  3. The temp needs to be hot (it will set in the colors and make sure they are not lifted)
  4. Put on the wash cycle
  5. When you put on the tie-dye shirts in the dryer, repeat step number one, and reassure yourself the shirts are by themselves.
  6. Dry on high heat

This process is useful for the first couple of washes, however afterward we advise to limit the heat in the dryer. We also suggest using a high-quality detergent to keep the colors lively. If possible, air drying is a gentle and safe solution for drying these shirts after future washes.

 Cleaning White Shirts

When you are washing clothes for the first time, washing white clothing can be kind of tricky if you are not aware of the basic rules. White shirts need to be placed in a different cycle separate from color clothing. This is crucial so there are no stains on the shirts.

The following steps will help the white shirt cleaning process:

  1. Avoid having too much white clothing with your white shirts, this will limit the cleanliness of your shirts.
  2. Choose a high-quality detergent for best results.
  3. Make sure to treat stains lightly ahead of the wash with bleach.
  4. Wash with warm or hot water to remove any dirt, grime, and oils.
  5. Rinse shirts with vinegar instead of your generic softener, this helps to remove the detergent.
  6. Make sure to double-check clothing before drying, if the white shirts are still dirty it may need a second cycle.
  7. Make sure to use the lowest setting for drying.

These easy steps can help make the white shirt washing process as less complicated or complex as possible. Ensuring the best possible results as well as ready to wear out for the best casual look that is designed to impress others.


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