How to Wash Dress Shirts: The 3 Best Methods!

Care for your dress shirts properly by reading our step-by-step guide on how to wash dress shirts.

How to Wash Dress Shirts

Wash Press

Sort your laundry so that your dress shirt is washed with garments made from similar fabric and a similar color. Unbutton the shirt completely, including the collar and cuffs. Place your shirt in the washing machine and add high quality liquid detergent. Use the delicate setting and wash with cold water. Air dry once finished. 

This is How to Wash Dress Shirts: The 3 Best Methods.

Dress shirts, especially white ones, seem to collect dirt and stains quicker than other types of clothing. Dress shirts are especially prone to sweat stains as they are often worn under heavy clothing. 

Washing dress shirts can be a pain, but it doesn’t have to be! There are plenty of options for washing dress shirts that are quick, easy, and effective. 

The method you choose to wash your dress shirt with, will depend on your situation. Sweat stains are best removed with water, which means in this case you should be using the washing machine at home. 

If you have grease and oil stains on your dress shirt then it is better for you to take your shirt to the dry cleaners. 

If your dress shirt is made from a delicate material, then hand washing is the most gentle way to clean it. 

Continue reading to find out more information on how to wash dress shirts. 

How to Wash Dress Shirts

The best three ways to wash dress shirts are:

  • Professional laundry and dry cleaning
  • Using a washing machine
  • Hand washing

Not all your clothes are as finicky to wash as a dress shirt, but they still need specific directions to stay in the best shape possible wash after wash. Learn how to wash your dirty clothes with these.

Below we explain benefits, drawbacks, and how to information on all 3 options. 

1. Professional Laundry and Dry Cleaning

Taking your dress shirt to the dry cleaner or professional cleaner is very convenient, but also comes with its advantages as well as its disadvantages. 

One of the best options is to get a wash and press for your shirt from a professional cleaner. During a wash and press, your dress shirt will first be machine washed. The shirt will also be put through a spin cycle to remove most of the moisture, before being put into an industrial press that removes moisture and irons the shirt simultaneously. 

Press and wash is a good option because it uses water, which is helpful for removing perspiration based stains and marks, which are a common issue for cotton dress shirts. 

Dry cleaning, as opposed to a wash and press, uses very little water which means perspiration based stains will be difficult to remove. Dry cleaning is however great at getting out oil based stains. So if your shirt is suffering from sweat stains, a wash and press is the best option. If your shirt has oil or grease stains, then get it dry cleaned. 

Professional laundry services can also be expensive, so if you have a lot of shirts to wash on a limited budget, you may just want to use a washing machine and clean the shirts yourself. 

Talk to your local laundry professional to find out which treatment is best for the issues you are currently facing. 

2. How to Machine Wash Dress Shirts

Use the following instructions to machine wash your dress shirts properly. 

  1. Sort your laundry so that you are washing similar items together (dark clothes, colored clothes, white clothes.) Wash your dress shirts with other dress shirts made from a similar fabric, and with a similar color. 
  2. Prepare the dress shirt by completely unbuttoning the front placket as well as the cuffs and collar. 
  3. Pre-treat stains before placing the shirt in the wash. Treat stains that may be too severe to be removed by the washing machine. 
  4. Place the dress shirt into the washing machine and add high quality liquid laundry detergent. Be cautious of the color as well as the material of your dress shirt before choosing the right detergent to use. 
  5. Adjust the settings on the washing machine to gentle/delicate. If the shirt is made from a thicker fabric or has severe stains or sweat marks, you may choose to use the normal setting. 
  6. Wash with cold water. Hot water shrinks clothes and makes dark colors bleed. 
  7. Push start. 
  8. Once the spin cycle is finished, remove the shirt from the washing machine and air dry by hanging (line dry) or laying flat (dry flat) on a drying rack. Avoid the dryer and its tumble dry settings when caring for your dress shirts. 

3. How to Hand Wash Dress Shirts

If you have dress shirts made from expensive or delicate fabrics, then washing them by hand may be the best choice. Follow the instructions below in order to hand wash your dress shirts properly. 

  1. Fill a container with cool to lukewarm water. 
  2. Add a high quality liquid laundry detergent to the container. Read the instructions on the label and add the appropriate amount. Do not use too much. A few drops is usually enough. 
  3. Completely open and unbutton the dress shirt. 
  4. Submerge the shirt in the water, and let soak for 5 to 10 minutes. 
  5. Use your hands to agitate the shirt in the water until it has been cleaned to your satisfaction. 
  6. Rinse the shirt under cool water until all the soap has been removed and the water runs clear. 
  7. Lay the shirt evenly on an absorbent towel and roll it up like a sushi roll. Gently apply pressure on the roll to remove excess water from the shirt. 
  8. Air dry by hanging or laying flat on an indoor drying rack. 

Can You Put Dress Shirts in the Dryer?

Air dry dress shirts by hanging or laying flat on an indoor drying rack. Try to avoid using the dryer when drying your dress shirts. If you insist on using the dryer for your dress shirts, be sure to use the air dry or tumble dry low setting.

How to Remove a Stain From a Dress Shirt

Try some of the following stain removal techniques if a stain has occurred on your dress shirt.

1. Act Fast

Acting quickly is the most important thing you can do when trying to remove a stain. Once a stain has occurred, grab a damp cloth and dab the stain off of the fabric. 

2. Use Lemon Juice or White Vinegar

Make a water based cleaning solution that is one part water mixed with either one part lemon juice or one part white vinegar. Spray it on the affected area or soak a cloth in it and dab it onto the stain.  

3. Use an Absorbent Powder

Use an absorbent powder such as baking soda, talcum powder, or cornstarch, to help extract the stain from the fabric. Cover the stain with baking soda and place something flat and heavy (ex. a book) over top of it to sit overnight. In the morning, brush off the powder and see how much of the stain has disappeared. You might be surprised! After that place it in the washing machine to finish the job. 

How to Wash Dress Shirts FAQ

Use the delicate and cold water setting to wash dress shirts in the washing machine. Unbutton the shirt completely around the front placket, collar, and cuffs. Use a high quality liquid detergent and air dry your dress shirt once the wash cycle is finished. 

Use the delicate and cold water setting to wash formal shirts in the washing machine. Unbutton the shirt completely around the front placket, collar, and cuffs. Use a high quality liquid detergent and air dry your dress shirt once the wash cycle is finished. 

Yes, it is crucial that you unbutton dress shirts when washing. This ensures that they don’t get caught or twisted while in the wash. Unbutton your front placket, as well as the cuffs and collar on your dress shirt. 

It is best to air dry dress shirts by hanging or laying flat to dry. If you must use a dryer, be sure to use the air dry and tumble dry low settings. 

Tall Paul
Tall Paul
I am 6'7 (203cm) / 235lb (106 kg) model and ex-athlete. Since I was a teen I had trouble finding clothes. I was too tall for off the rack and was too lean for Big & Tall.

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