A Shorewood Gent’s Guide to Caring for Dress Shirts
If you’re going to own high quality dress shirts, it only makes sense that you give them the highest quality care, too. Below is a discussion of the different ways you can care for your shirts.
DRY CLEANER vs. DO IT YOURSELF
Bringing your shirts to the cleaner and laundering them at home both have solid pros and cons. Let’s start with going to the cleaner. The first pro is, obviously, you don’t have to do anything. You drop off your shirts, pick ‘em up in a couple days and violá, your sloppy Joe stains have magically disappeared.
Well, it’s a little more than magic. The cleaner puts your shirts through a normal wash cycle with good ‘ol regular detergent, then presses them in an industrial press that simultaneously irons and dries your shirts. “Dry cleaning” is actually a misnomer—unless you specifically request “dry clean,” your shirts will be washed and pressed normally. You can have your shirts dry cleaned, but it can be expensive (around $10 per shirt) and the dry-cleaning process is not as effective at getting out sweat and oil-based stains.
To have one dress shirt washed and pressed can cost between $2-3. This can be an affordable expense, depending on how many shirts you bring in.
The downside of having your shirts cleaned at a commercial launderer is that your buttons can melt or break, due to the intense heat and pressure of an industrial iron (many cleaners, however, will offer to replace your buttons for free). The industrial strength process may also be tougher on your shirts, resulting in quicker wear.
On the flipside, doing it yourself allows you more control over the process, which means less wear and tear on your shirts. DIY is also good if you’re a control freak like your shirts just so. It also helps save a little money.
Cleaning and pressing your shirts yourself is more work, which stinks. But, if you set aside an hour on a Sunday to press all of your shirts, the process shouldn’t be too much of a hassle. Just turn up some tunes or catch up on House of Cards. (Tip: iron all of your shirts at once so that you won’t have to iron every single time you need a new shirt—now that’s a hassle.)
And, for guys who don’t know how to operate that mysterious, sort of oval-shaped contraption that sits on a dusty shelf in the laundry room, here is a helpful tutorial from the Art of Manliness blog:
STARCH vs. NO STARCH
In case you don’t know, starch is a plant-based powder that when combined with warm water, creates a sticky paste that acts as a thickening agent. When applied to dress shirts, starch helps maintain shape and prevents wrinkling during wear.
A moderate amount of starch will help a shirt look crisp all day long, but too much will make it uncomfortably stiff. How much you should use depends on preference. Usually a cleaner will ask if you want “light, medium, or heavy” starch, and your answer will depend on how much flexibility you want and if you are going for a more formal look. Traditionally, a heavily starched shirt is suited for formal occasions (think of the crispness of a tuxedo shirt).
There are no hard and fast rules on starching your shirts; it just depends on you. If you hate ironing, don’t have time to iron, like super crisp creases, or all of the above, starch might be the way to go. If you don’t mind doing touch-ups here and there, maybe you don’t need starch. Some people say starch causes fabrics to deteriorate more quickly, but this still takes a long time and depends on how much starch you’re using and frequency of use.
Also, some people complain starch leaves a white residue on their clothing or skin, but this is usually due to over starching. If you take your shirts to a skilled cleaner, they should know how much starch to use.
FOLDING vs. HANGING
Should you hang your shirts in your closet or fold and tuck them in a dresser drawer? Personally, we feel hanging your shirts is best. Hanging saves time when putting them away, allows for easier sorting (pulling apart your drawers to find one shirt is the worst), and most importantly: hanging prevents wrinkles. The latter is especially important when you iron your shirts yourself—it just feels like a waste of that work to crinkle them up again.
We do, however, see the appeal of folding. If you travel regularly, a supply of already-folded dress shirts makes packing faster. Folding also prevents any stress that might be placed on the points of the shirt that touch the hanger, which over time can stretch the fabric. This takes a really long time though, especially if the shirt is made of a lightweight fabric.
So, there you have it. Any questions? If so, give us a call or come see us at the store. We are more than happy to answer any questions you may have.