Perchloroethylene, high prices, plastic sheeting, oh my! Dry cleaning may save you time, but washing dress shirts at home is less difficult – and less wasteful – than you might think.

Our expert laundry steps will help you get crisp, freshly-laundered button down shirts (without the fumes). 

Do I Need to Wash My Dress Shirts After Every Use? 

Can you wear your dress shirt multiple times without washing it? Well, that depends on how long you wore it, if you’re a naturally sweaty person (no judgement here!), or whether you got anything on it. 

If it was only worn a few hours, doesn’t smell, and has no stains, feel free to put it back on the hanger. You could also use an iron or garment steamer to loosen up any wrinkles. The choice is yours!

When You Should Choose a Dry Cleaner

washing button down shirts

When you spot a “dry clean only” tag on a shirt, don’t attempt to wash it at home: Take it to a “green” dry cleaner that uses eco-friendly cleaning methods rather than perchloroethylene. Regular exposure to this solvent can cause a variety of health issues (e.g. nausea, skin irritation, liver damage) and may even be carcinogenic to humans. 

In the environment, perchloroethylene does not attach well to soil and can move into groundwater sources. It is also especially resistant to degradation. 

When You Can Wash Your Shirts at Home 

If you see “dry cleaning recommended”, that’s a manufacturer suggestion. You can take it to the dry cleaner, but you may also be able to wash it yourself. 

Spot a tag with machine-washing instructions? That means your shirt is a “wash and wear” variety and it can absolutely be laundered at home using the following steps. 

How to Remove Stains from Dress Shirts

remove stains from dress shirts

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It’s a law of nature: Put on a white shirt and you invariably drop something on it. Even without spills, certain areas (like the neck, cuffs, and armpits) will need special attention. You have sweat, body odor, and dead skin cells to thank for that.

Fight gross smells and nasty-looking stains before they become an issue. Invest in a bottle of Puracy Natural Stain Remover and consider throwing a laundry brush in your cart. Don’t just take our word for it – check out our before and after photos:

whiten clothes without bleach

That’s right: You can whiten clothes without bleach and they’ll look absolutely amazing, thanks to the six plant-based enzymes that break down hundreds of stains. 

1. Pretreat Stains

First, give some attention to stains (and areas of wear) by saturating fabric with the Natural Stain Remover. We recommend keeping a bottle near your laundry basket. As soon as you take your shirt off, spritz “problem areas”, throw the garment in your laundry basket, and leave it for later.

2. Hand-to-Hand Combat 

Fight extra-stubborn stains by either vigorously rubbing the affected fabric together or agitating it with a laundry brush. Whatever you choose, this works the enzymes into the fabric’s fibers and loosens stain particles.

get stains out of shirt

3. Wait It Out 

You can wait 15 minutes before moving onto the next step OR you can chuck the shirt in your hamper and let it marinate for a few days. The longer you wait, the better, and the enzymes become inert once they’re finished snacking on stain particles.

However, for silk and wool, don’t let the formula sit for more than one hour. 

4. Proceed with Washing

You can check those out below! 

5. Repeat If Necessary 

Listen, we’re not going to lie: Some smudges and blotches are really tough, but there’s nothing that another round of Stain Remover can’t handle. 

6. Avoid Drying Until Stains Are Gone 

You can “lock in” stains if you launder incorrectly and then overdry them. If you notice that your stain isn’t fully removed after your first wash cycle, don’t throw it in the dryer: Repeat steps #1-4 above until it’s gone.

How to Wash a Dress Shirt

If your shirt can be run through a laundry cycle, the following steps should apply:

1. Pretreat Any Stains 

Our previous section walks you through those steps. Don’t worry: We’ll wait while you check those out! 

2. Throw It in the Wash

We don’t just recommend our 10x concentrated Natural Laundry Detergent because we produce it. The biodegradable formula uses four plant-based enzymes to break down stains and odors and it’s formulated for super-sensitive skin. We could literally talk about it for hours. 

3. Follow Good Laundry Etiquette

To wash your dress shirts, we stick to these instructions:

  • Wash similar materials and colors together.
  • Use the permanent press or delicate cycle.
  • Select the low-spin setting.
  • Set the machine for an extra rinse cycle (especially if you pretreated stains).
  • Use cold or warm water. Depending on where you live – and the season – aim for water temperatures between 50º-80ºF  

Can I Put My Dress Shirts in the Dryer?

dress shirts in dryer instructions

Heat alone doesn’t shrink shirts: It’s the combination of high heat and overdrying that can shrink, damage, and even burn the fabric. No one wants that, so be sure to: 

  • Consult the shirt’s care tag for instructions.
  • Use the dryer’s permanent press cycle.
  • Select the “less dry” option.
  • Remove from the dryer when it’s still damp, then take it right to the ironing board. This is two-fold: Dampness helps the drying process and creates steam to remove wrinkles.

Pro Tip: One of the simplest ways to cut down on wrinkles is by purchasing shirts meant for your body type. Less excess fabric means fewer opportunities for bunching. 

How to Air-Dry Dress Shirts 

Don’t have a dryer? Don’t worry. Hang wet shirts on non-wire hangers, leaving enough space between them for proper air-drying. When slightly damp, break out the iron. 

Everybody’s Crazy ‘Bout a Sharp-Dressed Human 

When you’re wearing a crisp dress shirt, you want to look and feel your best. From removing gross stains and keeping your white shirts bright, Puracy’s natural laundry products ensure that your capsule wardrobe lasts for years.