Every article of clothing we own is valuable and deserves to be cared for properly, in order to preserve its integrity and look our best.  As we know, all clothing is not created equal; therefore, correctly maintaining a wardrobe requires paying careful attention to the care and upkeep instructions for each piece of clothing.

Unfortunately, everything isn’t as convenient as a pair of jeans to maintain. Clothing, particularly dress clothes, require special TLC to keep them in excellent condition. Dress shirts fall into this category, and with so many guys asking for pointers on their care, I’ve gathered the most important tips to keeping shirts looking new and fresh, and extending their life for many years.

Regardless of the type fabric a dress shirt is made of, one thing they all have in common is being delicate. It’s this high-end, sophisticated, and often expensive material that makes a dress shirt dressy and require special handling.

Following these guidelines should keep all your dress shirts worthy of proudly representing you and your wardrobe.

  • Always wash a brand new shirt to remove the toxic chemicals in the fabric, so they won’t get onto your skin and be absorbed into your body. Washing also removes creases and softens the material. Use a gentle cycle when washing dress shirts, and wash with like or similar colors and fabric.
  • Check labels of white shirts before using bleach to ensure it’s safe to use. Never use regular bleach on colored shirts… unless you’re trying to turn them white! Color-safe bleach is an option for colored shirts that need bleaching.
  • If anything spills or splashes onto a shirt, rinse or wash the area as quickly as possible to avoid a permanent stain.
  • Stains should be removed before drying shirts in a dryer, or ironing them.  Heat “sets” a stain in, and will make it nearly impossible to remove.
  • Use a low heat setting when drying dress shirts in a dryer, and remember not to dry longer than necessary, since excessive heat damages fabric.  Hanging a shirt to air dry is also an option.
  • When ironing a dress shirt, check the shirt tag and set the iron on the recommended setting for that specific fabric, in order to avoid scorching the shirt.
  • Irons that are too cool will not sufficiently remove wrinkles. It’s easier to remove wrinkles if the shirt is slightly damp. Since starch can deteriorate fabric over time, using a light starch is best. Water is another option for dampening shirts if you would rather not use spray starch.
  • Dress shirts can be dry cleaned; however, white shirts often yellow in time from the cleaning solution.  It’s best to have all dress shirts laundered.
  • Avoid wire hangers, since the ends can damage the fabric. It’s best to use a wider hanger; plastics are acceptable.  Shoulder nipples caused by hanger ends often appear when a shirt is air dried.  When this happens, be sure to iron the nipples out.  Use of a wide hanger helps prevent nipples.
  • Allow deodorant to dry before putting a dress shirt on.  Wet deodorant and antiperspirants tend to stain underarm areas.


Caring for dress shirts takes a little extra time and energy, but is well worth the trouble.  Clothing is expensive, and proper maintenance should add to their longevity; ultimately freeing our money to spend on other things. Caring for dress shirts (and all clothing) is a win-win all the way around.  Most importantly, your image will shine!

by Aaron Marino