Two hundred years later, George Bryan “Beau” Brummell is remembered as the most elegant man who ever lived, and one of the reasons was his emphasis on the importance of dress shirts. Brummell insisted on plenty of fresh shirts, and supposedly sent them from London to be laundered in the country where the air was fresher.
When it comes to caring for dress shirts, time, money and effort all collide. While you’ll ultimately choose the method of care that best fits your lifestyle, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Dry Cleaners Versus Washing at Home
The first thing to decide is whether you want to care for your shirts yourself or leave it to the professionals. It’s a question of time versus money: The dry cleaners offer convenience, but at several bucks a shirt, you could be adding hundreds of dollars to your monthly budget.
If you decide to go the professional route, you’ll want the cleaners to launder your shirts, not dry clean them. Dry cleaning is not only more expensive but also harsher on shirts (especially buttons), can leave a yellowed appearance, and is less effective at removing sweat stains, which are a dress shirt’s main enemy.
Starched Or No, Boxed or Hanger
Starch is a stiffening agent that gives cotton shirts a paper-like crispness. Some men like this, others don’t. If you do like starch, bear in mind that it does impact the life of a shirt. Request very light starch to go easier on your shirts, and don’t starch them every time.
Boxing refers to getting your shirts back folded. Neater and easier to carry home, boxing will also leave creases. If you go with hangers, as most men do, you’ll want to transfer them to proper wooden hangers for long-term storage, as thin wire hangers are bad for a shirt’s shape.
Home Washing: Machine Versus Hand
If you’re willing to trade time for money, your first choice is hand washing versus machine. Hand washing is by far the gentlest way to care for your shirts and will prolong their life the longest. Use your regular detergent and wash them in the sink or bathtub in cold or lukewarm water.
For machine washing, use the gentle cycle. Remove collar stays if possible, as leaving them in can warp the shape of a shirt’s collar.
Whites and Colors
Obviously you’ll want to separate your white dress shirts from your colored ones. Bleach can help prevent yellow perspiration stains at the neck and armpits, but it’s a harsh chemical that breaks down fibers and should only be used sparingly.
Like hand washing, line drying is the safest option for your shirts. If you opt to throw your shirts in the dryer, put it on the delicate setting.
Paul Fredrick Non-Iron Dress Shirts
Technology makes life easier, and that’s certainly the case with non-iron shirts, which are among our most popular shirts. To help them keep their wrinkle resistance, wash in warm water. Tumble dry, remove shirts immediately, and put on a hanger, pulling seams to straighten the shirt out. We do not recommend dry cleaning, nor the chemicals in bleach or starch, which break down the wrinkle-free finish. The same rules apply for our wrinkle-resistant sport shirts.