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Shrinkage of cotton dress shirts

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
For cotton dress shirts, I wear a 15.5" neck and 34" sleeve.  Most of the dress shirts I have in that size have shrunk to an unwearable size (14.75" neck in many cases) due to repeated machine washings and dryings.  I have three questions: 1. What is the general rule of thumb with regard to how many fingers you should be able to slip between your neck and the collar of an unwashed dress shirt?  I have always thought it was two fingers. 2. Do you machine wash and dry your dress shirts repeatedly, machine wash and dry only the first time, or hand wash and air dry from the beginning? 3. For anyone who wears a 34" sleeve, does the "L" length sleeve fit you after a machine washing or do you get the sleeve shortened?  It seems just a tad long on me.
post #2 of 8
I have machine-washed my shirts on a delicate cycle in warm water with tide unscented quick-dissolving soap powder, allowed them to dry on plastic hangers until just slightly moist, then ironed. I always machine wash, air dry. For space between my neck and the collar, I basically want enough space for me to turn my neck without it chafing against the collar. As for the "L" sleeves, Borrelli's "L" fits me perfectly. For Fray "R" fits, "L" is too long. If the sleeve is much too long to begin with it's unlikely that it'll shrink enough to fit properly.
post #3 of 8
You mean to tell me your shirt shrunk almost an inch in the collar? How about the body? It has to shrink proportionally otherwise the shirt will be totally out of shape. 3/4" is a lot. I wash all my shirts myself, mostly hand wash with a medium-hard tooth brush (you could order one from DR Harris since they have toothbrushes in different hardness). They are always hung dry. I find that it's really hard to get my shirts to shrink more than 1/8", so when I make a shirt now I have to tell the maker not to add extra inches in the collar and cuffs. Even my Turnbull had hardly shrunk 1/8" after a year (they say it will shrink 3/16"). One question to all: how do you clean your collars and cuffs? Just curious if there is a better way than my time-consuming brushing method.
post #4 of 8
Check out Alex Kabbaz's excellent article on cleaning and ironing shirts. Very good information to have including what kind of special soaps and cleaning agents to use for different problems. edit: corrected misspelling of Alex's name
post #5 of 8
Speaking of ironing, can anyone comment on their experiences with the "100% cotton, non-iron shirts". Are they a buy, or something to stay away from? I don't mind washing my own shirts, but ironing, is a different matter altogether. Thanks in advance.
post #6 of 8
One issue on my Shirt Laundering article J mentioned above. Kirkman Borax soap has been unavailable for a couple of years as far as I know. Octagon Soap is the same and works as well. The Kirkman had a bit more grit to it which reduced the scrubbing time, but the chemical properties are the same. Classic: A really good solution for those who hate to iron: Most local Chinese laundries are good shirt ironers but their washing practices will reduce the life expectancy of your wardrobe to about three weeks. So ... wash your own shirts and then pay the Chinese laundry to iron them. They'll probably want to be paid the same as if the washed them - and deservedly so because they pay less than a quarter per shirt for the laundering part.
post #7 of 8
P.S.: Thanks, J.
post #8 of 8
Alex, having read your article (which let me just add my name to the lengthy list of people who say thank you for this information) when I first came across this forum and askandy, I tried to find a suitable laundry to iron my shirts. Unfortunately, the task was (is) harder than first imagined, and the search continues. Meanwhile, I was just wondering about the non-iron shirts.
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