Shirt Care

Wrinkle Resistant vs Non Iron Dress Shirts

Wrinkle resistant fabrics need to be ironed after they are washed, but are treated so that they stay looking crisper throughout the day than they otherwise would.

This is different than “Non-Iron” shirts which have a very strong treatment after the shirt is made and come out of the washer/dryer wrinkle-free.

Generally, the wrinkle-resistant treatment does not give you the “wrinkle-free-straight-from-the-dryer” look that a non-iron shirt will, but it will also breathe and feel better because of it.

Formaldehyde is a tricky chemical that can lead to skin rashes for the small percentage of the population who are allergic. The bonded cotton fibers are a double-edged sword that allows for unmatchable wrinkle-free finish, but also cause the fabric to be significantly less breathable and can often be slightly scratchy.

How Much Will a Dress Shirt Shrink?

Generally speaking, dress shirts are made from woven cotton, and a nice woven cotton shrinks an average of 2%. All fabrics are a bit different, but 1-3% is a good rule of thumb. 2% may not sound like much, but keep in mind that for a collar size of 15″ that translates to 0.3″ in the collar size, and for a sleeve length of 35″, it can mean a full 0.7″.

Some clients ask, “If I only dry-clean the shirt, will it still shrink?”, and unfortunately the answer is a complicated yes. Certainly, if you rarely wear the shirt and only occasionally have it spot-cleaned by the dry-cleaner it will not shrink as much as if it is washed regularly in water. And if you’re incredibly careful it may not shrink at all. However, for other reasons, we don’t suggest dry-cleaning as the optimal method to wash a dress shirt. Rather we suggest sizing the shirt such that some normal amount of shrinkage is taken into account and then washing it in water and pressing it after.

Alternatively, if you wash the shirt in the washer, and then dry it on high-heat in the dryer, you will see shrinkage that is much more significant.

If you wash a shirt according to our suggested methods, you should see more minimal and predictable shrinkage over time, without the costs and hassle of dry-cleaning only.

How to Iron a Dress Shirt?

To keep your dress shirts looking their best, you’ll need to have them pressed. We usually suggest sending them to the cleaner, but if that’s not possible you’re going to need to know how to iron a dress shirt yourself. There are many ways to do this effectively, but here we’ll break down our method step by step.

  • Get the right iron, preferably an iron that lets you pour water in (for steam).
  • Setup your ironing board in a comfortable place where you’ll be able to spread the shirt out without wrinkling it all over again.
  • Unbutton the shirt completely, and spread it out over the ironing board. Iron the back of the shirt.
  • Iron the sleeves (one at a time).
  • Iron the top part of the shirt front and yoke.
  • Iron the collar.
  • Iron the shirt front.

Wrinkle Resistant vs Non Iron Dress Shirts

  • 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.
  • Pre-treat any stains by carefully working a little detergent into them, or better yet spot-cleaning them with a stain remover pen.
  • 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.
  • Use a high quality detergent 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.
  • Wash the shirts in the washing machine, and then let the spin cycle wring most of the water out of the garment.
  • 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.
  • 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.