5 Steps to (Properly) Care for Your Formal Shirts

Most people don’t think twice about caring for a shirt the same way they do anything else. If, like us, you like your shirts to last and to prolong the material’s quality, there are 5 Steps to (Properly) Care for Your Formal Shirts as detailed below.

Straight Point Collar – Light Blue – Slim Fit

Why Caring for Your Shirts Is Important

Prolonging the life of your shirt is even more important when you opt for a luxury shirt, so making it last not only saves the material, but saves you money in the long run. Make sure to check our wide range of slim and regular fit luxury shirts, as all our shirts come equipped with quick iron fabrics for easy after care.

Step 1: Preparing Your Shirt

Prepare your shirt for a wash by first unbuttoning all buttons, including the collar and cuffs. This is to reduce the chance of any coming off in the wash, and also allows you to turn it inside out.

At this stage, if you have any stains on your shirt like curry or antiperspirant, feel free to use your own choice of stain treatment pre-wash. Antiperspirants can stain shirts and other clothing quite badly, so we advise using deodorant where possible.


Turn your shirt inside out before putting in your machine. This is to make sure the detergent you’re using will not cause damage to the outside of your shirt. Even the most delicate detergent has chemicals which can damage material, so regardless of what type you use, it’s best to turn inside out.

Step 2: Washing the Right Way

On your machine you will use either a Normal or Delicate cycle, depending on whether your shirt is made from lighter or heavier material. Make sure to follow the guidelines on your shirt label. Use this guide for an explanation of what the symbols mean on labels. This point is important for the care of your formal shirts, as incorrect temperatures as we all know can ruin clothing.

If you’re still not sure, use the delicate cycle to be safe. It’s also advisable to only use a lower temperature cycle in order to retain colour and avoid shrinkage.

You can also use a spin cycle if your machine permits to take excess water off, but do not tumble dry. Tumble drying shirts will shrink them and shorten their life cycle.

Remove the shirt as soon as the wash or spin cycle has ended, making sure not to leave it in too long. This can also cause the collar to start curling and colours to fade.

Step 3: Drying Your Shirt

As we’ve touched on earlier, it’s best not to tumble dry your shirts which will cause shrinkage. Instead, it’s best to air dry them to avoid damaging the material.

Either hang on a good fitting wooden hanger or over a clothes horse. Similarly to tumble drying, avoid any heated appliance such as a heated clothes airer as this will also cause damage.

Before your shirt is completely dry (but instead damp) it’s time to iron to remove all creases.

Step 4: Ironing Made Easy

Ironing a shirt doesn’t have to be the chore we all make it out to be, but this step is the trickiest of our five-step guide.

Ironing should always be undertaken on a damp shirt, but not wet. As all our shirts at Nickson are 100% cotton, use a high iron setting to achieve the best finish. With our quick iron fabric all our shirts are twice as easy to iron compared to your typical formal shirt.

Invest in a semi-decent iron with a flat base. Cheaper models tend to have an uneven base which not only hinders ironing but can cause imperfections and small tears in material. Your ironing board should be stable and placed on an even floor.

All buttons should already be undone from Step #1 of preparing your shirt.

  1. Collar – start with the collar by simply pressing down with the iron on either side of the collar. At this point it doesn’t matter which side you start with.
  2. Sleeves – move onto the sleeves making sure they are laid out fully across your ironing board.
  3. Shoulders and yoke – slide the shoulders of the shirt on the end of your ironing board and gently run the iron from the top of the shoulder to the bottom.
  4. Back – keeping the shirt in the same place as the shoulders, again slide the iron from top to bottom making sure you’re not stretching the shirt and keep going to the very bottom of the shirt.
  5. Front – the home straight and the easiest step, place each side of the shirt flat on the board, and move the iron up and down. Iron in between the buttons but not over. Be careful not to crease the parts of the shirt we’ve already ironed.

Quick tip #1: Avoid ironing over buttons as they can melt or break.

Quick tip #2: Avoid pulling the shirt to iron out creases, this is what the iron is for. This can lead to the shirt becoming misshapen.

Quick tip #3: Use extra steam/water for wrinkles that won’t go away.

If you’re buying a quick iron shirt, these steps become a lot easier to follow.

Step 5: Storing

Try to use a wooden clothes hanger which fits nicely along the lines of the shoulders. Using a hanger which is too small can mis-shape the shoulders and cause a bump which is hard to rectify.

Plastic hangers which are thick enough would be okay, but wooden hangers are preferable. This is to ensure they don’t bend in storage thus preventing unnecessary damage.

Keep your shirts away from other clothing and shirts while hanging to avoid them touching (if possible). If they are too close together, this can cause them to lose shape and increases the chance of having to iron them again.

It’s also advisable to keep the top button of your shirt closed as this can help shape and avoid the collar curling as well.

Conclusion: Shirt Care Made Easy

So there you have it… five super simple steps to properly care for your shirts. In summary, the five steps are:

  • Preparing
  • Washing
  • Drying
  • Ironing
  • And Storage

It’s certainly more work and time, but the benefit of prolonging the quality of your shirts and making them look as good as new is well worth it. Check out our other articles below for more tips similar to 5 steps to care for your formal shirts.

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