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Laundering vs. Dry Cleaning Work Shirts?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by farfisa23, Jan 8, 2008.

  1. Viktri

    Viktri Senior member

    Messages:
    1,131
    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2007
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    I doubt this is the Kabbaz sanctioned method for ironing, but I typically go in this order:

    1. Collar
    2. Yoke/shoulders
    3. front/left or right of the body, depending on whatever side I happen to flip to
    4. back
    5. each sleeve and cuff

    I mean, it doesn't seem like it takes that long, but when I finish only 3 shirts while watching an entire episode of something like Top Chef or Project Runway, I realize it takes forever.

    I also apply a stain gel on the collar of my shirts before sending them out to launder. Makes a world of difference in what I get back from the cleaners.



    My momma taught me to do exactly the same.
    Takes me 20 minutes per shirt; I suck.
    I'm still in school otherwise I don't think I could iron them myself.
    My mom can do them in a few minutes each.
     
  2. YoungAmerican

    YoungAmerican Senior member

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    Aug 25, 2007
    Using the "I'm still in school" excuse as to why you send shirts to the cleaners is bizarre to me. Although I guess if I somehow had the money to professionally launder my shirts in college...
     
  3. tiecollector

    tiecollector Senior member

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    Location:
    Germany
    Dry Cleaning is a waste unless you are really disgusting and greasy.

    I wash my shirts on the gentle cycle with woolite inside out and then put them in the dryer for about 5 minutes then hang them up to dry. I then find ironing them very therapeutic.

    Ironing used to be stressful and take me 30 mins to iron a shirt because I made everything perfect and used a tailor's ham and sleeve board, but now I just break those out when it is absolutely necessary. I can iron a shirt in 5-10 minutes now, I always thought this was a long time, but apparently not.

    You could always buy one of these, which I almost did. [​IMG]
     
  4. Earthmover

    Earthmover Senior member

    Messages:
    586
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    Feb 10, 2005
    Location:
    Upper West Side
    The debate begins:

    At 2 bucks a pop to clean a shirt, I can deal with that, but dry cleaning near me at 5 a shirt adds up.

    What is some advice on cleaning your work dress shirts? Would you dry clean your Purple Label, but not your Blue Label?

    I dry clean sometimes, but really, can I launder my Egyptian cotton Burberry button downs without problems?

    To the floor it goes.


    NEVER EVER NEVER EVER DRYCLEAN YOUR SHIRTS. This is coming from someone who has worked at a drycleaner washing/ironing (and drycleaning upon request) shirts for 8+ years.

    Few top reasons:

    1. Unlike water, drycleaning solvent needs to be reused. Even if distillation and recycling of the solvent goes perfectly, your solvent isn't 100% clear. This means that for bright white shirts, it can come out looking duller (in addition, many white shirts actually add a flourescent dye to make it look brighter white; this flourescent dye is very soluble in drycleaning solvent, but not as much in water)

    2. Drycleaning solvent doesn't do a good job on water-based stains. Most stains are "combination," which means that there's both a oil-based component and a water-based component (e.g. food stains), and it's much easier to pre-treat oil-based stains that will go in the laundry than water-based stains that are going in the drycleaning machine.

    3. Drycleaning machines need to use a super-high heat (I think ~180F ish?) to "dry" the clothes to take out all the solvent whilst in the machine. This high heat inevitably breaks down the integrity of the cotton and reduces the life of the shirt.

    There's a few more minor reasons, but those are the big ones; drycleaning costs more and it's worse for your shirts. So why bother?


    Maybe I've always gotten lucky with my drycleaners, but generally, I don't find that my shirts get damaged much (although I have mostly Jantzen and RLPL, if that matters) whether it's the fabric or buttons. I've had a recent thing where black extra-thick plastic buttons broke on a shirt, but I completely understand why (since I know the process and the machines involved in pressing the said shirts), and considering I pay $2 a shirt in Manhattan, I am okay replacing those buttons with something that I know won't break in the ironing process. (incidentally, I'm going to experiment with contrast "crow's feet" pattern stitching on the buttons)

    I think it's great to wash/iron at home, but I think for some people, it not something that's practical; for those that can't do it at home, I think a little exploring in your local drycleaners will usually yield at least one good place that will do it at reasonable cost.
     
  5. ld111134

    ld111134 Senior member

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    Chicago, Illinois
    I have a great dry cleaners who is very diligent (even though laundering is done off-premises)...plus, he's open on Sundays.
     
  6. GusW

    GusW Senior member

    Messages:
    19,128
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    Sep 18, 2007
    With all due respect, psguy, your process sounds quite anal. That being said, however, is Spray and Wash the way to go for soiled collars? And is the brushing necessary?

    I got tired of having nice, expensive shirts laundered and coming back with "ring around the collar" or marks on the cuffs. My process is actually easy and the results are flawless. To me it is worth it. I'm not known among friends as anal. Perhaps I'm just the kind of guy who waxes his own car, or pre-washes his own shirts because I can't find anyone who does it as good or better than I can. When I do, I'll give this up. And, yes, I've tried numerous cleaners.

    I find that brushing is the way to loosen the dirt. I have excellent hygiene, but I tend to get soiled collars during warmer weather. It may also be skin chemistry, I don't know.
     
  7. JayJay

    JayJay Senior member

    Messages:
    24,364
    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2007
    NEVER EVER NEVER EVER DRYCLEAN YOUR SHIRTS. This is coming from someone who has worked at a drycleaner washing/ironing (and drycleaning upon request) shirts for 8+ years.

    Few top reasons:

    1. Unlike water, drycleaning solvent needs to be reused. Even if distillation and recycling of the solvent goes perfectly, your solvent isn't 100% clear. This means that for bright white shirts, it can come out looking duller (in addition, many white shirts actually add a flourescent dye to make it look brighter white; this flourescent dye is very soluble in drycleaning solvent, but not as much in water)

    2. Drycleaning solvent doesn't do a good job on water-based stains. Most stains are "combination," which means that there's both a oil-based component and a water-based component (e.g. food stains), and it's much easier to pre-treat oil-based stains that will go in the laundry than water-based stains that are going in the drycleaning machine.

    3. Drycleaning machines need to use a super-high heat (I think ~180F ish?) to "dry" the clothes to take out all the solvent whilst in the machine. This high heat inevitably breaks down the integrity of the cotton and reduces the life of the shirt.

    There's a few more minor reasons, but those are the big ones; drycleaning costs more and it's worse for your shirts. So why bother?


    Maybe I've always gotten lucky with my drycleaners, but generally, I don't find that my shirts get damaged much (although I have mostly Jantzen and RLPL, if that matters) whether it's the fabric or buttons. I've had a recent thing where black extra-thick plastic buttons broke on a shirt, but I completely understand why (since I know the process and the machines involved in pressing the said shirts), and considering I pay $2 a shirt in Manhattan, I am okay replacing those buttons with something that I know won't break in the ironing process. (incidentally, I'm going to experiment with contrast "crow's feet" pattern stitching on the buttons)

    I think it's great to wash/iron at home, but I think for some people, it not something that's practical; for those that can't do it at home, I think a little exploring in your local drycleaners will usually yield at least one good place that will do it at reasonable cost.

    I made this mistake once and it nearly ruined my shirts. They came back with awful reddish-brown blotches. Fortunately, the blotches washed out. I learned a big lesson.
     
  8. Dakota rube

    Dakota rube Senior member

    Messages:
    14,501
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2005
    Location:
    A bit better than yesterday, all day vomiting for
    I got tired of having nice, expensive shirts laundered and coming back with "ring around the collar" or marks on the cuffs. My process is actually easy and the results are flawless. To me it is worth it. I'm not known among friends as anal. Perhaps I'm just the kind of guy who waxes his own car, or pre-washes his own shirts because I can't find anyone who does it as good or better than I can. When I do, I'll give this up. And, yes, I've tried numerous cleaners.

    I find that brushing is the way to loosen the dirt. I have excellent hygiene, but I tend to get soiled collars during warmer weather. It may also be skin chemistry, I don't know.

    I bought a bottle of SnW last night and will use it on my collars next time I launder my shirts. I like to think my hygiene is, like yours, excellent, but I suffer from Ring Around the Collar. [​IMG]
     
  9. haganah

    haganah Senior member

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    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2007
    Location:
    New York, NY
    That's pretty cheap for dry cleaning. Are you sure they're being dry-cleaned and not laundered? Most "dry cleaners" do both laundering and dry-cleaning. If you're not specifically requesting dry-cleaning, I'd imagine their default for cotton shirts would be to launder them. When I throw my shirts in the back seat of the car I tell my wife I'm taking them to the "dry cleaner", but I'm actually having them professionally laundered.
    Sorry you were right. That was my mistake. I take them to get laundered and pressed at the dry cleaners. It also takes me 20-30 minutes per shirt. Every time I iron one side, the other side gets a crease. It makes no sense to me. And anyone that thinks it's therapeutic is welcome to iron my shirts - don't worry I won't charge for the therapy.
     
  10. farfisa23

    farfisa23 Senior member

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    Joined:
    May 20, 2007
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    You could always buy one of these, which I almost did. [​IMG][/quote] What the hell is that and where can I buy one? That is so rad, whatever it is.
     
  11. teddieriley

    teddieriley Senior member

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    Apr 8, 2006
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    Wait, you smell that?
    ^^It doubles as a shirt ironer and a punching bag. You'd probably want to do the punching after removing the shirt.
     
  12. GusW

    GusW Senior member

    Messages:
    19,128
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2007
    I bought a bottle of SnW last night and will use it on my collars next time I launder my shirts. I like to think my hygiene is, like yours, excellent, but I suffer from Ring Around the Collar. [​IMG]

    Don't forget to rub the bar of soap and use the brush after first spraying the collar and cuffs. The combination of that with the Spray and Wash is what does it. My white shirt collars are spotless.
     
  13. Schnurretiger

    Schnurretiger Senior member

    Messages:
    495
    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2007
    Location:
    Germany
    You could always buy one of these, which I almost did. [​IMG]

    What the hell is that and where can I buy one? That is so rad, whatever it is.[/quote]

    In Germany, you can buy this through amazon. I know someone who has this or a similar machine and she loves it. Of course: the better the quality of the shirts, the better the result of the ironing will be.
     
  14. epa

    epa Senior member

    Messages:
    1,412
    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    Location:
    Madrid
    Always laundering. I never even thought of sending a shirt to dry cleaning.
    I have a lady who comes twice a week, cleans the flat and irons. I think I have mentioned this in another thread: one of the occasions when I really felt that my living standard was improving was when I felt that I could afford to pay someone else for handling the ironing. Back in the old days, I did all the ironing myself. I guess I spent about 10 minutes per shirt, and the results were not always satisfying.
     
  15. amiestilo

    amiestilo Active Member

    Messages:
    31
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2008
    Don't forget to rub the bar of soap and use the brush after first spraying the collar and cuffs. The combination of that with the Spray and Wash is what does it. My white shirt collars are spotless.

    Thank you for posting this. I always have trouble getting the white collars "new again" clean and wondered how others achieve it.
     
  16. MLR

    MLR Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    98
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    Mar 15, 2007
    I wouldn't suggest using Spray n Wash, Shout, or other type products on colored shirts (even collars)...I have a few quality blue shirts that have been ruined (ie, whitened) by using this method. These products do work great on whites though...
     
  17. JayJay

    JayJay Senior member

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    Jun 25, 2007
    I wouldn't suggest using Spray n Wash, Shout, or other type products on colored shirts (even collars)...I have a few quality blue shirts that have been ruined (ie, whitened) by using this method. These products do work great on whites though...
    This is good to know. Although I haven't used it, I bought Shout yesterday because of reading about these products here. I've always used a bit of detergent directly on stains and collars prior to washing but thought a spray on product might be more efficient. The warning is appreciated.
     
  18. noVA99

    noVA99 Senior member

    Messages:
    234
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    Jan 15, 2008
    I was told to never launder dark colored shirts because they will fade a lot faster as opposed to dry cleaning them....any thoughts on this? right or wrong?
     
  19. Quirk

    Quirk Senior member

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    Mar 11, 2006
    I get them laundered and pressed no starch. I don't have the time or inclination to do either. If I want to soothe and relax, I go get a massage or take a nap, not do laundry and iron. For me, it takes about 20 minutes a shirt to do a good job. If I spent six minutes on a shirt, I would have a nicely pressed collar and a sleeve or two.
    I've been ironing my own shirts since my grandmother taught me when I was about 12, and I still can't do a suitable job in under 15 minutes. Only on rare occasions do I have the patience to iron a batch at a time -- I generally iron each day's shirt that morning, or (ideally) the night before. Octagon soap works pretty well on collars. I usually use a cheese grater to shave off part of a bar into an old glass jar, then pour some boiling water over it, stir it a bit, and let it dissolve into a paste, which I apply to my collars with a toothbrush -- ideally, as soon as I remove my shirt each night. I've tried using the Octagon lemon-scented liquid detergent, but that doesn't seem to work quite as well, probably becuase it's not as concentrated as my homemade paste.
     
  20. jet

    jet Senior member

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    I wouldn't suggest using Spray n Wash, Shout, or other type products on colored shirts (even collars)...I have a few quality blue shirts that have been ruined (ie, whitened) by using this method. These products do work great on whites though...

    Correct, I stopped using those awhile ago. If left on for too long they will discolor. One product, the twin bottle oxy shout/spray 'nwash whatever advises to launder immediately after applying. Now I just pretreat about 5-10 mins with the detergent and wash on delicate cycle in cold water. The longer the stain remains on the shirt the harder it is to get out. Also, I never put my good clothes in the dryer.
     

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