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How to Wash Dress Shirts

We may earn a small commission from product links. Blog posts at Nimble Made are written to provide value and advice for our readers—any product(s) we recommend are items readers use and love.

Written by Jeff Law

Introduction to How to Wash Dress Shirts

Taking proper care of your dress shirts is a big part of making sure your clothes and style stays fresh and clean. Even in today’s more relaxed work climate, according to an HR study, almost a third of US employers have a business casual dress code. Don’t panic after getting a dress shirt dirty, because washing a dress shirt isn’t as hard as it may seem. It’s important to know how to wash dress shirts, especially how to wash white dress shirts with stains, in order to maintain professionalism and look your best.This article will help teach you how to wash dress shirts and tips for washing a dress shirt that you can start applying to your cleaning routine. 

Read the Directions for How to Wash Dress Shirts

Dress shirt care can vary from shirt to shirt, even for shirts from the same company. Shirt material is a big factor for determining how to wash dress shirts, but other factors such as color, sewing, and patterns may also determine the proper way of how to wash dress shirts. Check the label for shirt care instructions, as they will often give you a good place to start. Nimble Made makes shirts using material that’s easy to care for and an easy-iron finish, and offers a care guide that provides even more detail into taking care of dress shirts. The care guide also has an overview of common symbols used by shirt manufacturers and what they mean. The safest ways of how to wash dress shirts at home are hand washing or using a washing machine. Hand washing is the safest way of how to wash dress shirts but requires the most time, and using a washing machine will be quicker but may affect the quality of your dress shirt. 


How to Wash Dress Shirts by Hand

Hand washing a dress shirt is the best way to take care of your dirty dress shirts. Start by spot treating any heavy dirt with stain remover if necessary, then remove the collar stays if your shirt has them. Both Nimble Made’s professional and casual dress shirts have heavy stainless steel collar stays that should be removed before washing. To avoid causing extra stress on the buttons and potential damage to the cloth, unbutton the shirt before washing. Use a mild clothing detergent to gently wash the shirt and use extra detergent if the shirt has heavy dirt. After washing, the best way to dry a dress shirt is either hang drying or lay flat drying if possible. Try to avoid using heat when drying your dress shirt, as adding heat might cause shrinking or change the fit of your dress shirt. For a crisper look, iron or steam your dress shirts as a final step of how to wash dress shirts. 


How to Wash Dress Shirts in a Washing Machine

Washing a dress shirt in the washing machine is a quicker way to take care of your dress shirts. How to wash dress shirts safely in the washing machine is the same as for hand washing, with spot treating any problem areas and removing the collar stays. Unbuttoning the shirt is also more important, as the agitation of the washing machine can be very damaging to your dress shirt. Be sure to use cool water when washing dress shirts with dyes, such as the blue Waterbend, as warm water carries the risk of the dyes running and potentially staining other shirts in the wash. Using warm or hot water also can cause fading on the dress shirt, so avoid it when washing heavily dyed dark color shirts like the Edo. Even after using a washing machine, it is still recommended not to use a dryer on your dress shirts, as it can lead to the same problems like shrinking and warping. 

Summary of How to Wash Dress Shirts

Both hand washing and using a washing machine are an acceptable way of how to wash a dress shirt. While using a washing machine will yield a faster result, hand washing your dress shirts will lead to the best result for taking care of your wardrobe. When preparing for either method, make sure to remove collar stays and unbutton the shirt before washing. For dirtier shirts, try using spot cleaning the stains using extra detergent on those areas before starting to wash dress shirts. For how to wash white dress shirts, make sure to avoid staining by using cold water.  When washing, avoid using hot water and the drying machine, as both can harm your clothing. Try ironing or steaming your shirts for a fresh pressed finish. We also have a separate guide on how to fold these dress shirts for easy travel and minimal wrinkles. 

Frequently Asked Questions about How to Wash Dress Shirts

  1. Can you put a dress shirt in the washer?

    Most dress shirts can be washed in a washer. Usually, a safe way of washing a dress shirt is using a delicate cycle and cold water and then air drying the shirt. Avoid washing a dress shirt with other rough materials like a pair of jeans or a jacket. 

  2. Is it OK to put dress shirts in the dryer?

    Always check the material of your dress shirt before putting it in the dryer. The safest way to dry a dress shirt is to air dry or hang dry. 

  3. Should you unbutton dress shirts when washing?

    Yes, unbutton dress shirts and remove collar stays before washing a dress shirt. 

  4. Do dress shirts shrink in the washer?

    Be careful when washing a dress shirt in the washing machine. Using hot water or heat when drying has a chance of shrinking or warping cotton dress shirts.