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A dress shirt is a staple in any man’s wardrobe. Whether it is for work, a party, or any other formal occasion, a dress shirt is a must. But even the nicest, most expensive and high-end white dress shirt will look dingy if it has a ring around the collar, a surefire sign that it isn’t properly cared for. Here's a separate guide on how to get stains out of white shirts.
While you know the importance of preventing stains near the sleeve cuff or underarms, people tend to forget to look for an ugly ring around the collar.
Your collar is much harder to cover up than a stain on your sleeve or under your arms. Even a great suit and tie may not be enough to disguise the yellow or brown stained ring around your collar.
To make sure you look your best, rather than looking unclean and unkempt, you need to put your best foot forward and keep your collar free of any stains, or at the very least taking steps to remove the ring around your collar.
How to remove the ring around the collar?
If you have noticed stains on your dress shirt collar, there are some things you can do to better treat them and remove the marks.
If you want to prevent stains, it is important to keep an eye out for them. Whether it is during the day while you wear your shirt, or at the end of the day when you take it off, you should take the time to look at your collar. Look both at the obvious parts of the collar, and underneath it to get a full inspection.
The sooner you spot a stain, the sooner you can take care of it and the more likely you are to get it out.
Treat It Directly
Rather than just relying on a regular wash cycle to treat the stain, you should use spot treatments. This includes laying the shirt out flat and applying detergent directly to the collar where there is discoloration. You should allow it to sit for at least a few minutes, then throw it your shirt in the wash as normal.
Use Stain Removers
To better break through tough or old stains, you should also consider using a stain remover. There are plenty of brands on the market to choose from and can get very specific for your needs. Brands like Oxyclean are famous for their “stain fighting power”, and have many products to tackle a wide range of stains. If you are overwhelmed as to where to start, that is a good option. Here are some of our favorites:
Try Shampoo or Dish Soap
If you are still having trouble getting stains out with standard detergent, you can also try using shampoo or dish soap to wash your collar. Shampoo is ideal for removing stains caused from hair care products, and dish detergent will better break up greasy stains from things like oils.
Make sure that you are using products that will help to remove the stains, rather than add to them, and make sure you avoid putting these materials in your washer like you would detergent. Instead, you should use them as a spot treatment, or pre-wash cleaning to help get the stain loosened up before the wash.
You should always follow this up with a regular cycle through your washer to remove any leftover product.
Soak Old Stains in Vinegar
For older stains, you can use white vinegar to soak the collar before washing. Depending on how old the stain is, you may have to soak it for fifteen minutes to an hour. Then rinse the shirt and wash it as normal. Make sure you are using white vinegar only, or you can end up causing more stains.
Another way of breaking up older or more severe stains is aspirin. You can fill a basin with lukewarm water and dissolve some aspirin in it before submerging your shirt. This should be left to soak for around an hour so the aspirin can work through the stain. You should then rinse it and throw the shirt in the wash.
What are the causes of a dress shirt collar stain?
There are several different causes for stains around your dress shirt collar. It is important to remember that there may be more than one cause working together to contribute to your collar stains.
One of the most common causes of stains is sweat. Especially in the warmer months or when under pressure, sweat can quickly build up and seep into your shirt in several spots. Here's a separate guide we put together labeling the 6 best sweat proof dress shirts. One often overlooked spot when trying to prevent perspiration is the back of the neck, making it easy to absorb and stain your collar.
Skin Cells and Oils
Skin oils and dead skin cells can also build up around your collar and collect to form discoloration.
Residue from Hair Products
Hair products can end up in your shirt collar as well. This can occur whether you are getting dressed before applying product, after, or while the hair is touching your collar. The sprays, gels, cremes, oils and balms can all end up in your collar and cause stains and discoloration.
Jewelry may not seem like a major threat to your collars, but oxidation can occur and rub off on your clothing. While jewelry may not be a threat to your clothing initially, you may end up with a problem over time. Especially when the jewelry is made up of certain materials.
Perfumes and colognes can soak into your shirt when it is sprayed on the collar. If you spray your skin directly, it may rub off into the collar when wearing your shirt throughout the day. While the stain may not immediately show as a problem, building up over time can cause serious stains and discoloration.
Whether it is from putting a shirt on after applying your makeup, or makeup rubbing off, it can cause a very dingy discolored collar. Because makeup like foundation is the most commonly the same color of your skin tone, you can quickly end up with very obvious splotches on your collar.
Everyone will inevitably drop food on their clothing at some point in their life. But if you are unfortunate enough to have dropped food on your collar, it can stain just like anywhere else.
How to prevent it?
It is always better to try to prevent the problem before it happens. To help you prevent a stain around your collar, there are certain habits you should practice.
Good hygiene is always going to help you keep shirts cleaner. Make sure you are washing product out of your hair fully at the end of the day and not letting it build up. You should also make sure you wash your neck and shoulders, remove all makeup, and properly dry yourself.
To help prevent dead skin cells from ending up in your collar, it is recommended that you exfoliate at least once a month. This can be done with a loofah or a washcloth, but it is important to get your entire neck and shoulders
Avoid Products When Possible
The less product you use, the less product can get into your shirt. If you can cut down on the amount of lotion, moisturizer, makeup, fragrance and hair product, you can greatly eliminate the amount of stains in your collar.
Wipe Your Neck
To prevent anything from soaking into your collar, you can also periodically wipe your neck. This can be done with paper towels, tissues, or a standard towel material. You can simply wipe your neck when in the bathroom or when you have a minute to yourself.
Wear an Undershirt
Undershirts can help to collect the skin cells, oils and sweat from your body before it can get into your dress shirt. While it will not protect your undershirt, this is a good way to keep your dress shirt looking nice.
Consider Your Dress Shirt Choice
You should consider two things when it comes to minimizing stains in your collar. The first is to choose a looser collar to prevent too much rubbing. You should also think about the material of the shirt. Cotton is a very breathable material that helps promote air flow and prevent sweating. But cotton can also absorb stains more easily.
Polyester and poly-blends are much more stain resistant and will better hold up to exposure to products and sweat. If you cannot stop the stains from occurring, you can also consider investing in a dark colored shirt. This will make it much more difficult to see the stains on your collar and will prevent other people from noticing a problem.
Invest in a Collar Protector
Collar protectors are available as well for those who want to guard against stains. While it won’t protect the outside of your collar, it will help protect the interior and keep it clean.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does baking soda remove ring around the collar?
Baking soda removes the ring around the collar because of the chemical reaction that it makes. However, you don't use baking soda alone - you make a paste with baking soda and water. It'll draw out the dirt and other impurities, and when it dries you can remove the stains, including those around the collar.
What is ring around the collar?
Ring around the collar is a ring around your shirt collar that is caused by sweat, dirt, dead skin, and oils. If you keep your neck extremely clean it is possible to avoid developing a ring around the collar, but it is very difficult with sweat and dirt build up that develops and builds throughout the day.
What is the best thing to use for ring around the collar?
One of the keys to removing the ring around the collar is Dawn dish soap. As a result, Dawn is a staple among dishwashing products because it effectively eliminates grease and oil. Other stain removers are more likely to be effective because Dawn assists in the breakdown of oil in stains.
Why do my shirt collars turn orange?
A sunscreen component and iron in your drinking water react chemically to produce orange stains. This is why they are not visible until the item is washed. Parsol 1789 (avobenzone) is responsible. Your drinking water becomes oxidized as a result of this oxidizer.
Why do shirt collars go yellow?
Your collar ring is caused by sweat and an accumulation of dead skin cells, body oils, and product.
Don’t let a ring around your collar ruin your dress shirt and appearance. No matter what the reason, once you identify the cause you can help prevent it and better protect your clothing. You can also take extra steps to keep yourself looking good in any situation, no matter the weather or your exposure to stain causing items.
No matter what you do, wear & tear is normal and clothes will get stains, fade and, discolor over time. Refreshing your wardrobe can be a viable solution from time to time. Here's our favorite white dress shirt and undershirt to go with it: