White shirts are a secret weapon of jewelry lovers. They are a perfect backdrop for layering on the statement bling. Here’s how to keep em white and pristine. Three favorites for now: Vince, Soft Surroundings, and Acne.
- How long you can keep a white shirt looking good depends most importantly on how it is laundered. If you send it out it will depend on the quality of the cleaners. Find the best one you can and opt for washing and pressing. Dry cleaning a cotton or linen shirt is not recommended. The dry cleaning solution does not remove water soluble stains including perspiration. The solution also contributes to yellowing.
- Almost all cotton (even good quality cotton) will shrink. Most shirt makers already compensate for this by making collars ½” larger and sleeves about ¾” longer. NEVER get a cotton shirt altered before it’s washed a couple of times. Sometimes it takes a couple of washings for all the shrinkage to take place.
- It’s best to wash a white shirt in warm to hot water. Unbutton the buttons, remove any collar stays and turn inside out before washing to protect buttons and allow soap to get right to perspiration stains.
- Soak in a mild detergent to remove stubborn spots. Avoid bleach or use VERY sparingly. Instead use non-chlorine bleach with peroxide or a detergent made especially for whites.
- To prolong the life of a cotton or linen shirt, air dry if possible. High quality white shirts are often made with mother-of-pearl buttons which are not as strong as plastic and can break and chip in the dryer.
- The shirt should be ironed on the cotton setting while it is still uniformly damp. If it isn’t, spritz dry areas it with water first. The usual order for ironing is collar, cuffs, sleeves, shoulders, fronts. Iron the back last then touch up anywhere that needs it. Hang on a hanger, button the top button, and hang outside the closet until leftover moisture evaporates.
- The best chance for removing ANY stain on white cotton or linen is to address it right away. Letting the garment sit in the hamper for days will make the stain set.
- Cotton and linen respond best to these suggestions when they are 100% natural.
- Blends and synthetic fabrics need different care. A shirt with is a blend of cotton and poly will not respond to the same types of washing and cleaning technique’s recommended for 100% cotton.
NOTE: I just tried the above technique on a favorite Anne Fontaine shirt that was looking yellow. I soaked it (in a TEENY bit of bleach) then machine washed, air dried and pressed while damp. TOTALLY revived the shirt!