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Ask Harry: How Do I Wash & Press a Dress Shirt?

Get Advice on Pre-Treating, Washing, and Pressing Your Dress Shirt

By: Logan RossDate: 2023-05-16

Whether worn with a suit or sans jacket, tidily tucked into a crisp pair of trousers, dress shirts always look best when they’re nicely cleaned and pressed. However, achieving a perfect clean and press requires more than just might (as far as dress shirts are concerned). Here are a few seasoned tips on how to get your very best button-ups looking brand-new again.

To Address Immediately (and Perhaps Professionally)

If all your shirt’s looking for is a routine wash, that’s one thing. But if you've had an unfortunate mustard mishap or something else painfully mundane, treating your problem blemish as quickly as possible is always advisable.

This is when carrying a stain removal pen (like Tide’s ‘To-Go’ stick) in your briefcase comes in handy until you can treat your shirt at home. Once back at home base, ensure you spray over the area with a pre-treatment product (like OxiClean’s Stain Remover Spray).

Be advised — sometimes spot treating more substantial stains can do more harm than good. If it’s anything more serious than a food stain or small ink spot, don’t touch it! Temper the urge to tamper and take it straight to your local dry cleaners to get a pro’s opinion.

The Prep

A well-made, high-quality dress shirt is no delicate thing. That said, they aren’t intended to be quite as robust as your favourite T-Shirt, for example. That means tossing your dress shirts in with the rest of the hamper won’t fly. Keep your shirts to one side and then sort them by colour — darks, lights, and colours, just as you would anything else. We don’t want to instigate any colourful cross-contamination with your best shirts. Lastly, undo all of the buttons along the shirts’ plackets and sleeves and remove any collar stays, which can damage your shirt’s fabric during the cycle.

The Wash

Wash your shirts by colour group only, being extra careful not to include any colours in with your light and white shirts.

All of your dress shirts should be washed on a delicate cycle, though the water temperature will vary depending on the colour group. Light and white colours get hot water, dark colours get cold water. Oh, and definitely don’t skimp out on the detergent — your best shirts deserve the best detergent.

The Dry

Domestic drying machines are great for the bulk of your wardrobe but are no place for a fine dress shirt. The hot tumble-drying cycles can be too harsh on more delicate materials and it’s simply best not to chance your best shirts in your drier at home.

Once your shirts are finished in the wash, simply hang them up on a clothesline or lay them down flat on a towel to dry naturally before they develop any wrinkles in the machine. After they’re dry, press them carefully with a clean, hot iron. When ironing, approach the torso area by splitting it into three sections — back, front left, and front right (divided by the button placket).

Start by ironing the back, then flip over and iron each side of the front taking care to iron between buttons too. Then press both sides of the shirt’s collar followed by both sides of each cuff. Once finished, button up the top collar button on your now clean and wrinkle-free shirt.

The Press

Once dry, it’s time to press.

First, undo all the buttons and cuffs, then lay your shirt flat on the ironing board. Remove any collar stays and then press the collar neatly on both sides — inside, followed by outside. Next, do the same with the shirt’s cuffs; inside first, then the outside. Move up to the sleeves and begin pressing along the board and up the middle of the sleeve without going over the edges — this helps you avoid any large creases that run the length of your sleeves.

TIP: Move your shirt softly between steps to avoid any wrinkles.

Now it’s time to approach the body. Line up the collar to the end of the ironing board where the nose narrows and flatten the shirt out. Start from the collar and press down the placket taking care to iron the spaces between each button. Once the entire side has been pressed, flip it over and do the other (buttonless) side of the shirt.

TIP: Get rid of any deep creases by dampening the shirt lightly with a spray bottle before pressing.

Finally, it’s time to iron the back. Use the shirt’s side seams as a guide, lining them up to the edge of your board. Smooth the shirt out until it’s flat, then press down from the top near the collar. Once done, shake your shirt a little to allow the cool air to seal in your perfect press.

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TAGS:#Style Advice,#Closet Care,#How To,#Dress Shirts,