Look sharp for the office: How to wash shirts
13th December 2018
Looking sharp is essential every day of the week, so you need to make sure the basics are covered. Washing shirts is more than just throwing them in the machine and hoping for the best. There are rules to follow to ensure your boss impressing, head turning suit isn’t let down by a sad looking shirt underneath.
Check out this guide on how to wash shirts for tips and tricks to keeping yours looking fresh.
Things to think about when washing shirts:
- What material is it? Safe to say a silk shirt shouldn’t be going anywhere near your machine – straight to the dry cleaners with that one. Wool shirts can also be tricky to wash, for example, if the machine is set too hot, they’ll shrink. If you’re unsure it’s worth checking the label first.
- What colour is the shirt? You’ll want to separate your bright white shirts from your bold reds and serious navy blues, just in case there is colour leakage.
- Does your shirt really need a wash? Have you worn it just the once? Most shirts can easily get another wear, especially if you’ve just been working in the office. Save yourself the hassle – and help the environment – by trying to wear your shirts twice.
How to wash shirts
These are the basic steps, but we’ve gone into more detail below…
- Prep the shirt – remove collar straighteners, unroll sleeves and undo buttons.
- Tackle stains – check for stains and put some stain remover on these before washing.
- Select the right setting on your washing machine – check the label first.
- Add your detergent and softener – use your favourite, high-quality cleaning products.
- Put your shirt in and hit go – wait for it to finish washing, wash on 30-40°C.
- Hang it on a hanger to dry – this keeps your shirt in shape.
You’ve got two options really when it comes to how to wash a shirt – pop it in your machine at home or pay a dry cleaner to take a look at it. Here’s the deal with each, so you can decide which is best for you.
How to wash a shirt at home
Time to work out what all those buttons mean on the machine.
Now, before we start, let’s be eco-friendly about this. You’re not going to wash one shirt at a time, right? So it’s worth saving up all the shirts you’ve worn during the week and doing one big wash. It’s worth noting now that if you wear a mix of colours, darks and lights definitely need separating beforehand.
Step 1: Prep the shirt
Undo any buttons on the shirt, remove cufflinks and check for anything in the pocket and remove any collar straighteners. It’s also important you unroll your sleeves to ensure they’re washed properly.
Step 2: Tackle any stains
If there’s a grubby mark or a stain you never got round to sorting out, do this now. Add a bit of vanish to the stain and scrub with water or use a stain remover pen. You can pick either of these up from your supermarket.
Step 3: Choose the right setting on the machine
It’s likely your machine has a huge number of settings you’ve never used, but it’s time to choose the right one for those all-important shirts. Either check the shirt’s label or make your choice from these settings:
Delicate or hand wash – This is best for those finer shirts that you reserve for fancier events. They need that gentle touch to ensure they don’t snag or lose a button.
Normal or time saver – For shirts that are a normal or heavier duty material, this setting should cover all bases.
If you’re just washing shirts, put the machine on a shorter cycle or choose a half load option to save water and energy. It’s also worth turning the spin speed down to ensure your shirts are protected from damage while being flung around the machine.
Step 4: Add high-quality detergent and softener
Follow the instructions on your detergent and softener and add these to your machine.
Step 5: Pop the shirt in and wash it
Throw your shirts in, shut the door and hit start. Grab a cuppa while you wait.
What water temperature should you wash shirts at?
Most washing detergents can tackle stains and dirt at the lowest temperature, so keep it at 30 – max 40°C.
How to wash a shirt at a dry cleaners
The benefit of using a dry cleaner is that they do all the hard work for you. All you need to do is drop your shirt off and pick it up when agreed. However, dry cleaners can be pretty pricey, so think carefully before you choose this option.
When a dry cleaner might be a good choice
- If your shirt is a very fine material, like silk or a material that requires extra care, like wool.
- If your shirt is stained – dry cleaners can’t get all stains out but they can definitely tackle oil or grease based marks.
- If you’re worried about shrinking the shirt in the machine at home. Hey, it happens.
Shop around before handing your shirt in, your local dry cleaner might be cheaper than a supermarket based one. Also, ensure you book your shirt in with plenty of time before the next event you’ll need it for.
How to make a white shirt whiter
Nothing says ‘I got this’ than a crisp white shirt. But over time and after a few wears and washes, it’s likely yours is looking a little tired.
To brighten up a white shirt you’ll need white vinegar – it’s very important its white vinegar and not the usual type you throw on your fish and chips. You then simply pour a couple of capfuls into your washing machine drum, throw your shirts in and then wash like usual.
The vinegar brightens up whites and doesn’t even smell funky after.
How to stop your shirt collars from getting dirty
Shirt collars can get grubby pretty quick and you might notice this especially on your white or lighter coloured shirts. To stop them from getting marked and stained, try to avoid putting your shirt on before your aftershave and hair products have dried.
If it’s too late, a good stain remover pen or powder will get the job done – you can also try that vinegar trick noted above.
How to wash a denim shirt
Denim is a whole new ball game. It shouldn’t need washing a great deal, as it’s the type of material that doesn’t hold onto stains and is easy to spot clean. If you have a denim shirt that’s in need of a wash though, colder washes on a normal setting are best to hold onto the colour. Wash it when you wash your jeans, which should only be once or twice a year.
How to dry shirts
Your shirts washed and now you’re debating on how to get it dry. Trust us, throwing it in a tumble dryer and hoping for the best is bad news. Instead, grab a hanger and hang it up. This ensures the shoulders hold their shape and the collar stays uncrumpled. Do up the top two buttons to ensure it falls properly and that the sleeves are unrolled.
You can then either hang it on the line – on the hanger – if it’s dry outside, on a radiator or on the side of your drying rack.
What to do once the shirt is washed
Your shirts washed, it’s dry, it looks fresh and smells good…now what?
- Iron it – don’t shy away from the iron. Take your time and ensure the collar is flat, the back is smooth and the arms have a neat straight line pressed down the middle. Be sure to get the point of the iron between each of the buttons to achieve a seamless finish and don’t forget about under the collar too. If you’re naughty and roll your sleeves up, you may need to take more time around the elbows to ensure they’re pressed flat.
- Hang it up – Never fold a shirt, always try to get it on a hanger as soon as you’re done ironing. Pop it in the wardrobe and if you know you might not be wearing it again for a while tuck a tumble dryer sheet into the pocket to keep it smelling fresh.
How to keep your shirts looking good
As well as following the tips above on how to wash shirts, there are some other things you should be doing to keep them looking sharp.
Take your shirt off as soon as you get home – Don’t make dinner in it or sit around in it for the evening, get it off and on a hanger ready for its second wear.
Use a napkin – If you’re eating something messy, save your shirt with a napkin. No one’s gonna judge.
Always hang it up – Never leave that shirt on the back of a chair, on the bed or even worse – on the floor. Make it your mission to find a hanger and keep it in shape.
Use collar inserts – These are great for keeping collars in check. You can pick them up online or at a high street suit shop.
Tips for packing a clean shirt
You’ve just washed your shirt for an important trip or maybe you’re heading abroad for a mate’s wedding – you don’t want to arrive and pull out a crumpled mess, right? Here’s how to pack a shirt and keep it looking fresh.
- Take a piece of cardboard around half the width of the shirt.
- Lay the shirt flat, button side down then place the cardboard on top, in the middle of the back.
- Carefully fold one side of the shirt back over the cardboard and then fold the single arm back to sit neatly on top.
- Do the same on the other side.
- Take the bottom of the shirt and fold this upwards over the cardboard.
- Place at the bottom of your suitcase to keep it flat.
Now you know how to wash shirts, you can keep your wardrobe looking sharp all year round. Need to refresh your current cycle of office wear? Hit up our full shirt range on the site.