How to care for a shirt

By - July 2nd, 2021 Shirt

Taking care of your tailored shirts can be a daunting task. However, 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 care for white shirt (against yellow sweat stain)

Photo by Nimble Made on Unsplash

A crisp tailored white shirt is a staple in a man’s wardrobe.
Be it the formal black tie tuxedo event or a casual night-out on a Friday, a tailored white dress shirt never fail to impress!
Do read here to know more about our tailored shirts!

However, one issue that most men face is having the unsightly yellow sweat stains on their tailored white dress shirts (gasp!).

Let us teach you how to extend the lifespan of your tailored white shirts by understanding what causes the yellow stains, how to remove them and prevention methods.

What causes the yellow sweat stains on shirts?

The yellow sweat stains on your shirts are caused by a mixture of minerals in sweat and the contents in the deodorant or antiperspirant which you use.

The combination of salt (mineral from sweat) and aluminium (content in deodorant or antiperspirant) is what causes the yellow stains on your white shirts and discolourations (especially on the armpit areas) on coloured shirts.

These yellow sweat stains can be stubborn and may require multiple treatments to effectively remove them.
The good news is, you may use simple household solutions and ordinary laundry products to get rid of them!

Overusing chlorine bleach can also cause white shirts to yellow during drying under the sun as the sun adds another layer of bleaching via UV rays.

Hence, white fabrics made from natural fibres like cotton and linen are not spared from yellowing if they are exposed to too much chlorine bleach.

How to remove yellow sweat stains on shirts?

Before You Begin

If you are using off-the-shelve stain removers, do test them on an old coloured shirt or fabric before using them on sweat-stained shirts no matter how innocent they look.

The effectiveness of homadmade stain removers are often the same than their off-the-shelve counterparts. However, it is easier to cause permanent damage to your shirts as homemade products are less controlled. Hence, always test any homemade product on an inconspicuous area before applying directly on the yellow sweat stains.

If you are using a hydrogen peroxide solution (mild bleaching agent) for coloured shirts, always dampen a white cloth or cotton swab with it and dab onto an inconspicuous area first to ensure no colour comes off as hydrogen peroxide can lighten coloured fabric that is not colourfast.

If there’s some sort of discolouration which rubs off on to your cloth or swab, use white vinegar or off-the-shelve stain remover which are safe for colours instead.

Homemade ways to remove yellow sweat stains from shirts

Baking Soda, Peroxide, and Water solution
You may remove the yellow sweat stain by simply applying a mixture of baking soda, peroxide and water directly on the affected areas.

Firstly, mix the baking soda, peroxide and water in equal parts, and apply the mixture directly on to the stain. Subsequently, use a toothbrush to rub the mixture into the fabric.

Let sit for approximately 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the severity of the stain, and wash as per normal.

You may apply toothpaste directly to a yellow stain to lighten it. Simply rub the toothpaste over the affected areas with a toothbrush until the yellow stains are lifted. After which, wash your dress shirts as per usual to remove the toothpaste.

Lemon Juice
Lemon juice can lighten the yellow sweat stains on white and light-coloured shirts.

You need to only apply pure lemon juice on to the affected areas and dry the dress shirts under the sun for an entire day.

Wash your shirts as per usual by hand or washing machine to remove the lemon juice right after you bring them in.

How to prevent the sweat stains?

Tips to prevent sweat stains

  1. Wear an undershirt to avoid getting sweat stains on your dress shirts
    This will provide a layer of protection for your dress shirts against sweat and/or deodorant/antiperspirant. A popular choice would be Uniqlo’s AIRism.
  2. Use a clinical-strength deodorant/antiperspirant
    A strong deodorant/antiperspirant can prevent bacteria-prone sweat from staining your shirts.
    Always allow time for your deodorant/antiperspirant to dry completely before wearing your tailored shirts as deodorant/antiperspirant which are not completely dry can lead to yellow stains under your armpits.
    Also, try to apply a light layer to prevent getting the deodorant/antiperspirant to come in contact with your tailored shirts.
  3. Trim your armpit hair
    As your armpit hair can collect excess sweat, dirt, and bacteria, trimming them can prevent lingering sweat and odour-causing bacteria.
  4. Wash sweaty shirts as soon as possible
    Try to wash your sweaty shirts as soon as possible even if it means hand-washing with a little bit of laundry detergent under cold water. As the longer you leave a sweaty dress shirt to dry, the stronger the sweat stains set in.
  5. Reduce the use of bleach
    As mentioned earlier, white fabrics made from natural fibres like cotton and linen are not spared from yellowing if they are exposed to too much chlorine bleach.
    So, if you can, try to hold back on using chlorine bleach!

With just a little work, you may extend the lifespan of your tailored white shirts; keeping them crisp and (needless to say) white!

How to wash a tailored 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 tailored shirts.

Method 1: Laundry Services
Do note that unless you expressly asked for dry cleaning of your shirts, a dry cleaner will most likely wash and iron your shirts the “normal” way.

The “normal” way consist of washing your shirts in a normal washing machine using detergent and soap, removing most of the water from your 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 cheap.

However, some laundry services can be too rough for your tailored 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 Tailored Shirts at Home
This method ensures that you will have a little more control over how your tailored 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 tailored 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 tailored 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 tailored shirts.

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

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

Step 6: Remove your 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 tailored shirts. Hang your tailored 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 tailored shirts.

Step 7: Iron your tailored 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.

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.

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 men, 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.