How To Wash Dress Shirts - Without Ruining Them in 3 Simple Ways

April 21, 2022
by Jack Lyons

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Dress shirts are super important to a lot of people. Most of us wear them daily for work while others may only don one for essential events like meetings or formal parties – but no matter where you wear one, a dirty dress shirt can leave a seriously bad impression on others. Trust us learning how to wash dress shirts doesn't have to be intimidating!

Imagine turning up to an important work meeting and your dress shirt is stained or has lost its color – you can seriously damage your reputation by turning up in a dirty shirt. 

So, to save your reputation and your shirts, let’s take a look at some of the most popular ways to wash a dress shirt. This way, you will know exactly how to clean your shirts quickly, so you will never be forced to turn up to important events looking worse for wear. 

How to Wash Dress Shirts At Home

Washing your dress shirt at home allows you to control how you treat stains and such, but it is not very convenient as it takes up a lot of your time. However, you can start in a pinch and make sure your dress shirt is clean and ready by the next day!

To start washing your dress shirt at home, you will need first to undo all the buttons. While many people remember to unbutton their dress, they often forget to undo the buttons at the cuffs and collar.

Look over your shirt and see if there are any serious stains that need addressing, like wine or sauce stains.

While each type of stain has its own natural treatment (for example, white vinegar is great for lifting red wine out of shirts), the rule of thumb is always to try using a little extra detergent to soak on the stain before washing. 

Pop your dress shirt into your washing machine and set it to a delicate cycle.

While heavier duty dress shirts can sometimes get away with a normal wash, a delicate wash will be more gentle with your dress shirt and make it more durable for more wear and use. 

Use cold water when washing dark-colored or brightly colored dress shirts as this will help them maintain their color and not fade in the wash.

On the other hand, whites and light-colored dress shirts are fine to wash using hot water as this will also help kill any bacteria and make your shirts feel fresher and cleaner to wear. 

When it comes to adding detergent, make sure that you use a detergent that is not chlorine-based. Chlorine-based detergents are prone to cause discoloration and ruin shirts of all materials and make.

So, treat your dress shirt to a high-quality, gentle detergent that won’t ruin its color and appearance. 

Leave your dress shirt to wash and finish on a dry spin cycle to help dry the shirt as much as possible. Then, you can remove the shirt from your washing machine and hang it to air dry.

This will help some creases to fall out naturally. Do not put your dress shirt into a tumble dryer as the heat can damage your shirt and possibly cause it to distort. 

However, you can iron your dress shirt, but make sure your iron remains on low heat, and you use a protective layer to help prevent any burn marks.

Alternatively, some people iron their dress shirts when they come out of the washing machine. It is possible to iron damp fabric; it’s actually fairly easy and will work just as effectively when it comes to getting that crisp, smart look dress shirts are designed for! 

Hand Washing Your Dress Shirts 

Most dress shirts survive just fine on a machine wash, but if you are too concerned about potentially damaging your dress shirt, then you can try handwashing them to put your mind at ease. 

Hand Washing Your Dress Shirts 

This is a popular route a lot of people choose, especially when their dress shirts are made from cotton or linen dress shirts. These fabrics are prone to shrinking and fading, but they do survive just fine on a cold, delicate machine wash. 

However, if you are too cautious to risk it, you can wash your dress shirt in a bowl of cold water with a bit of detergent instead of using a washing machine. 

Take It To The Cleaners

Because a lot of people are too nervous about potentially damaging their dress shirts, they may be tempted to take them to the cleaners and pass on the responsibility to them. Although this option is more convenient and almost always inexpensive, it’s not always the best option. 

How those cleaners will actually clean your dress shirt is out of your control. Some can be too hard on shirts and not care for them as they would their own clothing.

Some cleaners also put shirts through one industrial machine after another, increasing the risk of your shirt (especially the buttons) being chipped. So, although your shirt will come back clean, it also may come back stretched and damaged. 

Also, dry cleaning is always another option – but dry cleaning is not the best way to properly clean your dress shirt. Dry cleaning uses little to no water, so this means that a lot of the dirt can still remain on your shirt.

Washing your dress shirt with water is much better to remove stains and dirt, which means that your dress shirt may not be as clean as you wish it to be. 

So, while we would recommend that you wash your dress shirts yourself using the method above, we understand that paying for a cleaner to wash your dress shirts for you is very tempting due to its convenience. 


So, there are three different ways on how to wash your dress shirt! 

You can choose between washing it yourself at home (either by using a machine or handwashing) or handing it over to a cleaner to dry-clean. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages, so carefully consider which method is best for you! 

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