The button-down shirt is a symbol of the white-collar worker and the uniform of the male professional. Taking care of men’s button-down shirts and keeping them up to standards, however, is a little more complicated than just washing and drying them. They can accumulate the grime of a workday and lose the luster you expect your button-down to bring to the table.
So what should we do? Do we need to slash and burn our worn-out button-down shirts and get new ones?
For the most part, a shirt usually lasts up to six months – it could live as long as two to three years with the proper care – and it really depends on how frequently you wear it. In some cases, a shirt can be unsalvageable (waxy seams, yellow stains, and rips around the neckline and the armpits), but all some button-downs need to seem fresh again is some proper care and attention.
So, before you go grab that machete knife and flamethrower, do yourself a favor and read up on these tips for managing and preserving your dress shirts.
Men, you should really invest in some undershirts if you haven’t already. Undershirts provide an extra wall of protection between you, your natural body emissions, and your shirt. Of course, an undershirt can’t stop 100 percent of body stains from reaching the shirt fabric, but it can be huge for adding months, even years, to the life of your shirt.
The kind of deodorant you use can be a powerful tool in protecting/preserving your shirts. Make sure the deodorant you use has a neutral pH with little to no acidity. Also, if possible, make sure the deodorant completely dries before wearing your shirt.
If you’re too lazy to do this, go to a nearby cleaner and ask them if they could do it for you. If they can’t, ask them if they could at least launder it. You won’t regret it as a dress shirt can cost up to a few hundred dollars, and they start to show their wear after six to seven months.
Dropping about a cup of white vinegar into some cold water along with your dress shirts can help remove the yellow sweat stains as well as give your shirts a fresh clean odor.
Lastly, it is a good practice to wash your button-downs after each wear, mainly because remaining deodorant and sweat stain chemicals can be extremely harmful to the shirt fibers.
Ultimately, there will come a day when your button-downs need to be replaced from old age, but, until that day comes, these tips can prolong their life. They are, after all, a reflection of your professionalism!
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