How to care for a shirt

By 29/10/2019 Uncategorized

Taking care of your tailored shirts can be a daunting task. Given proper care, a good tailored shirt can actually last for several years. Hence, it is worth learning how to do so, starting with washing.

How to wash a dress shirt

Do you know that whilst retaining its look as though it was newly bought? Well all you need to do is to provide proper care for it! The followings show the most popular washing methods to care for your dress shirts.

Method 1: Laundry Services

Do note that unless you expressly asked for dry cleaning of your dress shirts, a dry cleaner will most likely wash and iron your dress shirts the “normal” way.

The “normal” way consist of washing your dress shirts in a normal washing machine using detergent and soap, removing most of the water from your dress shirt with the spin cycle in the washing machine and then pull the damp shirts onto an industrial shirt press that closes over the shirts and simultaneously irons the shirts while removing all of the moisture.

Going to a laundry service is relatively convenient as it removes the hassle of washing it on your own and can be relatively inexpensive.

However, some laundry services can be too rough for your dress shirts. For example, the slamming of the press over the front of your dress shirts may cause the buttons to chip or shatter. Furthermore, if your dress shirts are stretched over the press when steam-drying, it may cause some areas to grow wider. And lastly, you are still likely required to do some form of ironing prior wearing.

Method 2: Washing Your Dress Shirts at Home

This method ensures that you will have a little more control over how your dress shirts are washed and handed. However, it does require a little bit more time and attention.

To provide a good wash at home, kindly follow the steps described:

Step 1: Prepare your dress shirts for cleaning by unbuttoning all the buttons, including the cuff buttons and any collar buttons. Remove any collar stays too.

Step 2: Pre-treat any stains on your dress shirts by carefully working a little detergent into them. For better results, you may spot-clean the stains with a stain remover pen.

Step 3: Set up your washing machine for an optimised wash. To minimise wear on a fine or lightweight dress shirt, use the Delicate cycle. For heavier duty fabrics or if your dress shirts are particularly dirty, you may select the Normal cycle.

You may use hot water for whites and light coloured dress shirts but use cold water for dark coloured dress shirts to prevent the colour from fading. Ensure that your laundry load does not contain any bold colours items that may bleed into your dress shirts.

Step 4: Use high quality detergents. Avoid detergents or cleaners that are chlorine-based as they will likely cause discolouration to dress shirt fabrics.

Step 5: Wash your dress shirts in the machine and let the spin cycle remove most of the water out of the garments.

Step 6: Remove your dress shirts immediately once the spin cycle has been completed, as they will be crumpled from the wash in the washing machine. . Removing them immediately will help to prevent the intense wrinkles from drying into your dress shirts. Hang your dress shirts up or lay them out to be air-dried. Try to avoid the sharp hangers or tight clothespins as they can distort the fabrics or leave marks on your dress shirts.

Step 7: Iron your dress shirts. Your dress shirts need not be completely dry to begin ironing but they should be mostly dry.

How to remove stains from your shirt?

You have probably at some point in your life, stained your dress shirt before and felt rather clueless on how to remove the stain effectively.  Fret not; we’ve listed several methods below on how to effectively remove the different types of stains. Do keep in mind that the longer a stain remains, the tougher it is to remove it! Hence, treat a stain as soon as possible! Also, always treat a stain before laundering and never ever stain your neckties as they are made of delicate fabrics that make them impossible to clean!


Blot the lipstick mark with a baby wipe or a washcloth moistened by rubbing alcohol on it.


If the blood is fresh, blot the spot repeatedly with cold water, an ice cube, or club soda.

If the blood has dried up, use a 3% hydrogen-peroxide solution to treat the stain.


Cover the spot with talcum or baby powder immediately and allow it to sit at least half an hour. Subsequently, brush it off and apply a stain remover. Thereafter, wash your stained dress shirt in the hottest water the fabric can withstand.

Red Wine

Douse the spot with salt immediately and dunk your stained dress shirt in cold water. Blot the spot until the stain disappears, and wash it as soon as possible! If you are unable to remove your stained dress shirt immediately, soak the spot with club soda and get your stained dress shirt into a washing machine in the soonest time possible.

Coffee Stains

If the stain is fresh, rinse the spot immediately with cold water. If possible, remove your dress shirt immediately and apply laundry detergent directly to the spot and rub together with cold water. Soak your stained dress shirt for 30 minutes, and rub it with laundry detergent every 5 – 10 minutes. After which, wash your stained dress shirt in the hottest water the fabric can withstand. If the stain is not removed after the wash, try repeating the steps. Do ensure that the stain is out of your dress shirt prior to placing in a dryer.

For older stains, apply white vinegar directly to the spot and soak your stained dress shirt in cold water. Rub the stain with a sponge until it is removed. Alternatively, you may apply baking soda with a wet cloth to scrub away the stain.

Barbeque Sauce & Other Tomato-based Sauce Stains

Soak your stained dress shirt in cool water added with ½ a teaspoon of liquid hand dishwashing detergent and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar for 30 minutes. Give your stained dress shirt a rinse after soaking. If the stain remains, pre-treat the spot with a pre-wash stain remover, liquid laundry detergent or a paste of powdered detergent and water. Wash your stained dress shirt in warm water after pre-treating and air-dry it thereafter.

If the stain remains after washing, soak your stained dress shirt in an enzyme product (some detergents contain enzymes) for at least an hour to overnight. After which, launder your stained dress shirt in warm water. Be mindful not to use hot water, hot air drying or to iron the garment until the stain is gone as heat will set it in.

Removing Stains from Whites

It is important is to remove the stain from white dress shirts immediately. Remove any food items on your dress shirt while blotting up liquid spills from the outside in. Apply a liquid dishwashing soap directly to the stain and gently rub the spot with a light-coloured cloth or your fingernail. Do not use a dark coloured cloth or terry towel as this may darken the stain. Soak your stained dress shirt in cold water for 10 – 15minutes prior to washing.

New and older stains may also be removed with the use of cornstarch or baking soda. Gently scrub the powder into the stain with a cold wet cloth to remove the stain. White vinegar and hydrogen peroxide are also great pre-treatment solutions in helping to remove the stain. For any stains on white fabrics, it is recommended that you wash them separately and pre-soak them in ½ cup of bleach and cold water.

How to remove lint from your shirt?

Lint is a common name for visible accumulations of textile fibres and other materials, usually found on and around garments. This happens when numerous very short fibres like cotton, linen and wools are bundled together to manufacture the fabric. During the course of normal wear, these fibres may either detach or be jostled out of the weave. The occurrence of lint is extremely normal and it does not mean that a dress shirt is of an inferior quality.

How to Remove Lint

Visible lint can easily be removed with a lint roller or clothes brush. To reduce the accumulation of lint during laundering, you may use a fabric softener that reduces the amount of static electricity on clothing surfaces and thus prevents the lint from sticking to your dress shirts.

How much will a dress shirt shrink?

Generally, dress shirts are made from woven cotton that shrinks with an average of 2%. As all fabrics are different, a good gauge would be a shrinkage of about 1-3%. Dry cleaning does not necessary prevent shrinkage as the frequency of visiting the dry-cleaner plays a part too. Unless you rarely wear the dress shirt and you visit the dry-cleaner for spot-cleaning occasionally. Otherwise, your dress shirt will still shrink as much as if it is washed regularly in water. The optimal method to wash a dress shirt is actually washing it in water.  Thus, we suggest sizing the dress shirt in such a way that it takes into account the normal amount of shrinkage.

A dress shirt is expected to shrink more over its life. It is common for a dress shirt to be slightly smaller after fifty washes than it was after its first wash.

Typically a dress shirt tends to shrink more in the length than in the width as its fabric shrink more in the warp than in the weft. Sleeve length, shirt length and collar are areas where you can expect relatively the most shrinkage to occur.

At Ethan, we ensure all our dress shirt fabrics are pre-washed for shrinkage before handcrafting a dress shirt. This will help to minimise the shrinkage during your first wash.

In some cases, you may find that instead of shrinking, your dress shirt becomes looser around the chest, midsection and around the biceps.  This is a result of the shirt being stretched out. In most cases, washing the dress shirt and then drying it on low-heat in a tumble-dry mode will return it to its original size.

How to iron a dress shirt?

To look your best, you need to keep your dress shirts looking their best! In order to achieve that, you would have to iron them. To do this effectively, you may consider our recommendations as follow:


1: Getting The Right Equipment

An iron is the most important equipment here. Preferably, your iron allows you to pour water into it to produce steam.  It would be even better if your iron has a Teflon coated bottom. If your iron does not spray water out the front, you may want to prepare a spray bottle so that you can spray a fine mist while ironing. Of course, an ironing board is the other equipment you would need.

2: Setting Up

Setup your ironing board in a comfortable place and height where you are able to spread your dress shirt out without wrinkling it all over again. Plug the iron in and adjust the temperature setting to about a 3 or 5 (148oC to 204oC).

3: Ironing The Back of Your Dress Shirt

Unbutton your dress shirt completely and spread it out over the ironing board with the back of the shoulder going into the narrow end of the ironing board and the side of your dress shirt along the edge of the board. After which, slide the iron down your dress shirt from the top to the bottom with moderate pressure. While ironing, be mindful that you keep your dress shirt flat to ensure that you do not actually iron wrinkles into the garment. For wrinkles that do not go away easily, you may use a little steam or spray some water on them. Slide your dress shirt over to the other side and do the same once you are done with this side.

4: Ironing The Sleeves

Lay one of the sleeves on the ironing board and carefully flatten the sleeve in such a way that it folds along the hem on the bottom of the sleeve. Start ironing from the region around the armpit, towards the cuff and away from the bottom hem. Repeat the ironing on the other sleeve.

5: Ironing The Top Part of Your Dress Shirt Front and Yoke

Pull one shoulder of your dress shirt over the narrow, pointed side of the ironing board. The optimal position is where you have a clear view of one side of the yoke and having the front of your dress shirt just below it. The collar should be sticking straight and curving around in a circle. Spray this area damp and iron carefully around the curve of the collar.

6: Ironing The Collar

Firstly, take out any removable collar stays (if any). Next, unfold the collar and lay it flat on the ironing board with its back facing up. Spray the collar to make it damp and give it about 30 seconds for the water to soak in. Start ironing from the middle of the collar outwards to the tips of the collar points. You may need to exert slightly more pressure than before as the collar is thicker and stiffer. After ironing the back of the collar, fold the collar back down and iron the front of the collar to make your collar look more angled and sharper. Insert back the collar stays if you had removed them earlier on.

7: Ironing The Shirt Front

Iron the sides of the shirt front, one at a time. Make sure the front placket is not folded over in a way that it should not be folded. Be mindful of the buttons and iron away from them. For the areas around the front of the collar, use the pointed part of your iron to help you. While ironing, pull your dress shirt gently to keep it tight and straight to ensure smooth ironing and to prevent any wrinkles from forming.

Eric Chia

Author Eric Chia

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