How to clean a shirt collar

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Shirt in cotton poplin with stretch. Band collar, classic button placket, and yoke at back with darts. Long sleeves and cuffs with adjustable buttoning, sleeve placket, and link button. Rounded hem. Muscle Fit – designed to showcase physique. Narrow shoulders and tapered sleeves for a flattering silhouette.

  • Muscle fit
  • Spandex 96%, Cotton 4%
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Shirts are made to be worn, not worshiped. This means they get dirty. However, with proper care, a high quality dress shirt can last for several years and continue to look great. In this post, we’re going to break down three of the most popular washing methods and detail how you can keep your dress shirts looking great for years to come. We’ll also outline how to deal with special emergencies as well as provide some other cleaning tips.

How to clean a shirt collarMethod 1: “Wash and press” at the cleaners

Wash and press is the “normal” way to clean dress shirts when you take them to the cleaners. (Don’t be too confused by this. Even though you take your shirt to the “dry-cleaners”, they are most likely doing wash and press unless you are expressly asking them to dry clean ). This is our first choice. At around $1.50/shirt, this cleaning method is relatively cheap and easy and it keeps the shirts looking great. At most cleaners, here’s what the process involves:

  1. They wash your shirt in a normal washing machine using water and detergent.
  2. They remove most of the water from the shirt with the spin cycle in the washing machine.
  3. They pull the damp shirt onto an industrial shirt press that closes over the shirt and simultaneously irons the garment while removing all of the moisture.

Pros: Convenient, (relatively) inexpensive.

Cons : Some cleaners will be too hard on the shirts. The slamming of the press over the front of the shirt can cause buttons to chip or shatter. If the shirt torso or sleeve is stretched over the press when it is steamed dry it can cause this part of the shirt to become wider in these areas. Finally, in the process of bringing the shirts from the cleaners to your closet collars will often be smashed in some way, requiring additional ironing for optimal appearance.

Method 2: Wash the shirt yourself at home

If you don’t trust your dry cleaner, or if you’d just like a little more control over how your shirts are washed, you may want to wash your dress shirts at home. We really like this option, but to do so properly requires a bit of time and care on your part. Follow these steps for optimal results:

  1. Start by preparing the dress shirt. Unbutton all of the buttons, including cuff buttons and any collar buttons. Remove any collar stays if it has them and put them in a safe place.
  2. Pre-treat any stains by carefully working a little detergent into them, or better yet spot-cleaning them with a stain remover pen.
  3. Set up your washing machine: To minimize wear on a fine or lightweight dress shirt, use the Delicate cycle. If the shirt is made from a heavier duty fabric, or is particularly dirty you may opt for the Normal cycle. Whites and light colors can use hot water. Dark colored shirts that you don’t want to fade should be washed with cold water. Take care not to include other laundry items with bold colors that may bleed into your shirts.
  4. Use a high quality detergent, like Woolite Complete, that is appropriate to the color of the shirt. Be sure not to use any detergents or cleaners that are chlorine based as these will cause discoloration to many shirt fabrics.
  5. Wash the shirts in the washing machine, and then let the spin cycle wring most of the water out of the garment.
  6. The shirts will be tightly crumpled in the washing machine so you’ll want to remove them promptly before these intense wrinkles will dry into the shirt. Hang the shirts up or lay them out so that they can air dry. Be careful about hanging the shirts on a sharp hanger or with tight clothespins as this can distort the fabric or leave a mark on the shirt.
  7. Next you’ll want to iron the shirts. You don’t need to wait for the shirts to be completely dry to begin this step, but they should be mostly dry.

Pros : Gives you the most control to treat stains, protect buttons, and iron collars carefully.

Cons : Takes time and attention.

How to clean a shirt collarMethod 3: “Dry clean” at the cleaners

While we don’t really recommend dry cleaning cotton dress shirts, some folks like to take their shirts to the cleaners and have them dry cleaned. While this cleaning method will certainly not damage the shirt and minimize shrinkage, it does have some downsides. The first is that it can be expensive – usually over $5/shirt. Another is that water soluble stains such as perspiration are not removed. Dry cleaning solvents contain very little to no water so perspiration based dirt can be left untouched. Washing dress shirts in water is better for removing water soluble dirt and stains from sweat. That said, if your dress shirt has an oil based stain on it you may have better luck getting it cleaned by a dry cleaner than in a washing machine.

Pros : Convenient. Minimizes wear of the shirts. Removes oil-based stains.

Cons : Won’t always remove water soluble dirt or stains. Expensive. Your shirts are at the mercy of a potentially abusive shirt cleaner.

Question: Is it ok to dry shirts in the dryer?

We recommend avoiding the dryer and letting the shirt air dry on a hanger, although (depending on the size of your house) this is not always practical. If you must put the shirt in a dryer, avoid high heat or over-drying the shirt. Use the dryer to get most of the moisture out of the shirt, and then iron the shirt immediately to remove the rest of the moisture and any wrinkles at the same time. If you dry your shirts completely in the dryer you’ll find the shirt a bit harder to iron perfectly, and they will likely shrink beyond Proper Cloth’s calculated shrinkage allowances.

Question: How to remove a stain from a white shirt?

In the unfortunate event that you spill some wine or spaghetti sauce on your shirt, some quick action could minimize any stains that result.

  1. With a brush or comb, carefully swipe or lift away any large pieces such that you don’t smear them worse into the garment.
  2. Immediately treat the stain with water or stain remover solvent. The sooner the better. If you can’t get your hands on a stain remover pen, we recommend a Tide Pen, try dishwashing detergent, lemon juice, vinegar, or seltzer water.
  3. Dab solvents on the stain with a light touch. Pressure can force the stain deeper into the fibers of the garment.
  4. Rinse and repeat.

Question: Should I use starch when the shirt is pressed?

While many people do like to have their shirts starched, our suggestion is to avoid starch completely. While starch can help a broadcloth or oxford shirt appear more crisp it can also cause shirts to wear out prematurely. When the starch material gets embedded in the shirt fibers it acts like a million little knives that break down the fibers over time.

How to clean a shirt collar

The good news is that you’re doing pretty well if you’re using a spray-style stain remover before laundering your shirts. The bad news is that you’re still having a problem with ring around the collar, and so today we’re going to fix that. It will be pretty painless, actually!

Before we get into the nitty gritty of de-gritting your collars, I’m offering you an exciting content delivery option: If you’d prefer an aural version of these instructions, my editor here at Esquire, Jonathan Evans, joined me on my weekly podcast to talk about the dreaded ring around the collar problem. You can listen to that episode here. If you want to check out other episodes or subscribe, you can do so at Acast, iTunes or Stitcher.

Preventing/Reducing Ring Around the Collar

Before we talk about how to deal with ring around the collar, we should first talk about what causes it and a few things you can do to prevent it or reduce its effects. That ugly ring that likes to make its home on your collar is caused by sweat, yes, but also by a combination of dead skin, the oils that your body produces, and product buildup.

There’s not much to be done about the sweat other than maybe applying a swipe of antiperspirant back there. (Try it! Many, many ladies have been using this technique to great effect to combat underboob sweat and why should we have all the fun?) But for those who suffer from a more pronounced case of ring around the collar, it will be worth adopting one or two personal grooming habits that will cut back on the amount of collar buildup.

Because dead skin and your natural oils are culprits, making sure you’re not forgetting your neck during your daily ablution is key. A washcloth, shower sponge, or pouf are all great ways to give your neck a little love the the shower; scrubbing after you’ve washed and conditioned your hair, if that’s a thing you do, is the best practice here, as run-off from products can wind up on your neck post-rinsing.

Post-shower, if you’re a person who uses hair products like gel, paste, oils, etc. for styling your ‘do, give your neck a wipe before putting on your shirt to ensure that they don’t end up soiling your collar.

Treating Day-to-Day Ring Around the Collar

Our Letter Writer is more or less on the right track with his treatment technique: Spraying a laundry pre-treatment product on the stained collar before tossing it in the wash is a good thing to do. It’s even better to spray the collar before you put the shirt in the hamper, so that the product has a good long time in which to do its work. Leaving the bottle of stain remover right by the laundry bin is a nice convenience/reminder. Another helpful thing to do is to rub the fabric against itself after applying the spray, which will help to work the product into the fibers.

I do have some products to recommend to you, but I also want to mention that not all products work equally for everyone, so some trial and error may be needed before you settle in on the right brand of stain treatment for your particular collar. With that said, here are some specific products to look out for: Zout, Shout, OxiClean, and Resolve Spray ‘n Wash.

Once you’ve pre-treated, the shirts can be laundered as usual. One thing to avoid, however, is the use of bleach—chlorine bleach can cause a reaction with perspiration, which is a protein stain, that will render the stain more yellow than it was to begin with. Skip it! If you want to add a booster to the wash, opt for an oxygenated bleach like Oxo Brite instead.

Treating Set-In Ring Around the Collar

We have now arrived at the big mama, getting rid of those set-in, stubborn, permanent-seeming rings. This is the time for you to treat your stained shirts to a nice, long soak in a solution of hot water, if the fabric will allow for that, and a scoop of something that will eradicate the grime. Oxygenated bleach is GREAT for this, but Borax is also a good choice. Cascade powder—yup, the stuff you use in the dishwasher!—is excellent for whites, but can have a bleaching effect on colors. Even regular old laundry detergent will do the job; the idea is that the prolonged soaking is the thing that will take care of your collar problem. In terms of length, plan to soak the shirts for at least an hour, but the longer you can leave them in there, the better the results will be.

If you have a washing machine that allows for it (i.e. one that belongs to you and is not one of those HE dealies that won’t fill up with enough water to make soaking possible), go ahead and do this right in the machine by stopping the cycle after the drum has filled with water at the start of the proceedings. Let the shirts hang out in there for 30-60 minutes, longer if you can, then restart the machine and allow it to carry on its merry way.

If you don’t have a laundry set-up that allows for it, go ahead and soak the shirts in the tub, kitchen or utility sink, or a bucket.

If you launder at a laundromat and toting a soggy bag of shirts is out of the question for you, fret not! You’re not out of luck. What you need is a laundry bar—something like Fels Naptha or Zote—which you’ll wet and rub onto the stained collar before washing. Laundry bars have fallen out of favor but they’re great little products and I’m so happy to have had the chance to mention them to you. I’m only sorry you had to suffer from ring around the collar in order for us to get to this glorious day.

Our guide to picking the perfect tuxedo shirt for your black tie event. From front to fabric to collar style, we break down the details to help you look your best in black tie.

How to clean a shirt collar How to clean a shirt collar

The Plain Front Tuxedo Shirt

The French placket and removable button strip makes this the cleanest and most versatile option. Swap the buttons for studs with a tux, or leave them in for a sharp look under a suit in a pinch.

How to clean a shirt collar How to clean a shirt collar

How to clean a shirt collar

As the plain front is on the less formal end of the tuxedo shirt spectrum, it can be worn easily with or without French cuffs, and the plain front’s clean look gives it a modern appeal that is a great choice with contemporary slim-lapelled jackets. If you prefer wearing a straight tie to a bow tie at formal events, this is your best bet.

The Pleated Front Tuxedo Shirt

A traditional tuxedo shirt style that looks fantastic with a shawl collar or notch lapel tux — think Sean Connery as Bond. Slightly less formal than a pique front.

How to clean a shirt collar How to clean a shirt collar

How to clean a shirt collar

Distinctive yet conservative, the pleated front can work in just about any formalwear setting, though you’ll want to leave your straight tie at home. The 1/2″ pleats are an ideal width—classic, not busy or ruffly.

The Pique Bib Front Tuxedo Shirt

The most formal choice for a tuxedo shirt. Pique front shirts are timeless for how clean the bib lays underneath a jacket, and our bib, made from a luxurious Thomas Mason Marcella pique fabric, is absolutely perfect.

How to clean a shirt collar How to clean a shirt collar

How to clean a shirt collar

You’ll want to go with French cuffs and a nice set of studs with a pique bib. The pique bib front looks best with a peak or shawl lapel jacket, and we suggest it for any event labeled white tie.

Fabric Choices

Certain fabrics work better than others in formal contexts. Generally, we suggest solid white twills and broadcloths for tuxedo shirts.

Twills are more opaque and have more shine than broadcloths, lending them a more formal appeal. Twills also drape better under tuxedo jackets. Broadcloths feel smoother and more modern, but are generally more sheer than twills. For a textured look, Royal Oxfords and Jacquards are also fair game.

How to clean a shirt collar How to clean a shirt collar How to clean a shirt collar

Collar Styles

We prefer a spread (but not cutaway) collar on our tuxedo shirts. The President and English Spread are perfect.

Unless you’re going to an ultra-fancy white tie event, which calls for a traditional wingtip.

  • How to clean a shirt collar

Cuff Styles

Formal events require French cuffs. Square and rounded French cuffs are both appropriate. They are equally formal so choose whichever style suits you best.

Save the barrel cuffs for your weekly business or casual looks.

  • How to clean a shirt collar
One Button
Two Button

Advanced Moves

While timeless and traditional are perfect for most occasions, you can have a bit of fun with formalwear, too. Solid dark fabrics are a great way to mix up the black tie calculus — try a dark navy shirt with a midnight blue or black tuxedo for a tonal downtown look.

Come holiday season, our preferred irreverent black tie move is to break out the tartan tuxedo shirt. Keep everything else in your outfit classic and let the shirt do the talking here.

With our custom shirt builder, you can have any one of our fabrics made with a plain or pleated tuxedo front.

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How to clean a shirt collar

Mercer White Twill Tuxedo Pique Front

How to clean a shirt collar

Thomas Mason White Royal Oxford

How to clean a shirt collar

Hudson White Wrinkle-Resistant Twill Tuxedo Plain Front

How to clean a shirt collar

Miles White 120s Broadcloth Pleated Tuxedo Front

The Finishing Touches

How to clean a shirt collar How to clean a shirt collar

How to clean a shirt collar How to clean a shirt collar

Bow Tie The key here is consistency with your tuxedo lapels. Opt for a black satin bow tie if your tuxedo lapels are satin, or black grosgrain if your lapels are grosgrain.

Pocket Square No need to reinvent the wheel: white pocket square. Done. We love the texture and crispness of a cotton and linen blend, but pure linen or pure cotton also do just fine.

Studs A critical detail that goes a long way. Black onyx or mother of pearl studs are the standard. We find black onyx to be the most timeless and versatile.

How to clean a shirt collarOnyx
Cufflinks Black Satin
Bow Tie Italian Cotton
Pocket Square Sterling Silver
Ball Cufflinks

Few sartorial items are as universally cherished as the plain white T-shirt. After all, it's the most versatile item in your closet: Pair it with heels for a night out, wear it under the slip dress du jour for an office-appropriate ensemble, or throw it on with your favorite blue jeans for the official off-duty look that's favored by everyone from farmers to supermodels. You don't have make yourself crazy trying to ensure they look fresh wash after wash, but there are a few simple steps you should incorporate into your laundry routine if you want your white clothing to remain white. We asked two experts for their best advice on keeping your white clothing clean and bright.

Keep the Loads Small

Are your T-shirts looking gray and dingy? You might be overstuffing the machine. "The more clothes you have in the load, the more dirt and grime that's released in the washing process," explains Brian Johnson, director of education at The Drycleaning & Laundry Institute. "Once that soil gets into the water, it will eventually redeposit back onto the clothes." In short, don't cram too much into your washer. Also key: Wash whites only with other whites.

Use the Right Amount of Detergent

The type of soap you use isn't as important as the amount you use, says Johnson. "When dirt is released into the water, one of the detergent's key jobs is to keep it from redepositing on the fabric," he says. "If you don't use enough detergent, you can't create that effect, which holds the dirt until the drain cycle."

The Best Way to Wash a White T-Shirt

Abrasion from agitation breaks the surface of the T-shirt and causes little fibers to stick out. Turn your T-shirts inside out before tossing in the wash, says Mike Abbott, director of R&D at Hanes. "This keeps the outside of the garment looking fresher."  Next, add a detergent with a whitening agent and select warm water. "Hot water degrades the color of the shirt faster than warm water," he says.

Can You Bleach White T-Shirts?

Bleach is tricky. "A good quality bleach works for 100 percent cotton items," says Abbott, but you'll want to avoid it on pieces made with synthetic fibers like nylon or spandex. (Meaning most of your fancier T-shirts.) "Bleach breaks down spandex," he says. Too much bleach can cause even your 100 percent cotton whites to yellow. To be safe, go with non-chlorine bleach, like OxiClean.


If you love super-white clothing, this old-school product, a blue solution that deposits a small amount of blue dye to the water during the wash cycle, might just be your new favorite. If beach can cause whites to yellow, why on earth would you add blue to your wash? "The human eye actually sees blue as white," explains Abbott, "so bluing agents are optical blinders for whiteners." They add a tint of blue to cover up the yellowing from dirt, oil, or chlorine bleach and make garments appear whiter.

How to Tackle Yellow Underarm Stains

The pesky yellow armpit stains that send your versatile wardrobe staple to the undershirt pile? Blame the aluminum in your antiperspirant. That's right, the agent that stops you from sweating reacts to perspiration, creating the yellow armpit stain. It's a vicious cycle; sadly, once those stains set in, they're impossible to remove, says Johnson. His advice: Prevent these stains from setting in by washing your white T-shirts ASAP. "Most people try to get a couple of wears out of things," he says. "But in a couple of days after wearing, you should run it through a wash cycle."

Stain Removal

To deal with heavier stains, including those yellow armpit stains, soak your garment in a non-chlorine-based bleach, like Oxiclean, for 30 minutes before washing. Make sure to use the hottest water temperature that's recommended on the care label. "Heat increases all chemical reactions, so the hotter the water, the better your detergent is going to behave," he says. For light stains, treat with your detergent (most have oxygen-based bleach as part of the formulation) and toss in the wash.

The Best Way to Dry a T-shirt

Unlike a majority of the garments we've written about here, your white T-shirt can definitely go in the dryer-just take it easy. "You don't want to make it bone-dry," warns Abbott. "Drying too much degrades the cotton and can also cause yellowing." For best results, set your dryer on a shorter cycle, remove while damp and hang to dry it. You can also use a low-heat iron setting to smooth out any wrinkles.

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If you shop online for a Mandarin collar suit, Contempo is the place to buy them for less. Some men call them Mandarin collar suits or Nehru suit. Some folks refer to them as Chinese collar suits. These are even known as the Mao suit named after former Chinese leader Mao Tse Tung. There are even people out there who call them banded collar suits. Whichever way to like to refer to these stylish fashion suits, one thing remains clear as a bell. These Nehru collar suits online are packed with attitude and are not the type of suit you would or could ever consider wearing to an office type job. These are Cheap Suits that don’t look cheap. You will find that they go great with Stacy Adams Shoes. A Chinese collar style suit is by its very essence a fashion type suit. These are for men with a cutting edge style who favor a uniqueness in their clothing prefer to wear. They are quite different from a Double Breasted Suit. These Mandarin collar suits come in a bunch of fashion colors and exhibit a fashionable approach to dress suits. Mandarin style or Chinese collar suits are very clean in their looks and can be worn with your basic dress shirt. For a different look, you can wear a mock neck or banded collar shirt if wearing tie is just not on your agenda that particular day.

Learn more about Chinese Collar Suits. Chances are you’re going to need some new dress shoes as well. Have you seen our Great Selection of Crocodile Shoes and exclusive style Alligator Shoes Here. If it’s a fun retro party you’re going to, you’ll need to see our Zoot Suits for the right look. Try a sparkling Dinner Jacket on for size. Linen Suits for Men are always a great choice for the Summer.