People notice the state of your clothes and if you’re running around in dirty collars and cuffs, this takes away your polished, professional look.
Victorian men were the most efficient shirt-wearers of the modern era with starched, detachable collars and cuffs easily replaced or rigorously cleaned, starched, and put back in place with studs. (For further reading on historical cuffs and collars, read this great blog.) By the early 20th century, cuffs and collars grew into the body of our shirts and have remained attached ever since – good for clothing efficiency but not good for instantly removing hard-to-clean grimy cuffs and oily collars.
It’s a shame to have to retire a shirt because of a dark ring around the inner collar or on the inside of your cuffs when the body and sleeves of the shirt are intact, so here’s help.
When hanging your shirts up on hangers, whether to air dry or to put into your closet, you can extend the life of your shirt by buttoning the top button to keep the collar band in shape.
Sandwiched in between the back and front fabric of the collar and the collar band is the fusing (also known as interfacing) that gives shape and body to the collar pieces. Doing up the top button will keep your collars rounded and in good shape.
Ring around the collar
Though the body of your shirt is clean, you may still notice a dark ring around the inside of your collar. This is a stain of our skin’s natural oil, grooming products, sweat, and dirt, and it’s hard to remove with regular machine washing. If you’ve got some stubborn collar stains, try this:
- Wet the collar and apply your choice of: liquid laundry soap or laundry bar soap (i.e. Sunlight) along the soiled band. I have also heard of using cream of tartar, shampoo, and a paste of vinegar and baking soda to remove collar stains;
- Scrub with your fingers, a cloth, or a toothbrush but take care not to scrub too hard or you could damage the fabric;
- Depending on the severity of the stain, either wash in hot water or pour boiling water over the collar and let soak for several hours before washing in hot water. Remember to keep your whites separate from your colours or risk tinting your white shirt with dye from the coloured shirt.
If the ring remains on a white shirt, try wetting the collar again and sponge a diluted solution of hydrogen peroxide and water, let sit for 30 minutes, then wash again in hot water.
If you just couldn’t be bothered, take the soiled shirt to the dry cleaners and make sure to point out the collar so they know how to clean it.
If you are lucky enough to get your shirts from shirt maker, Marlon Durrant Bespoke Shirts in Toronto, he does a practical collar and cuff replacement program for his high quality shirts. Md’s shirts are excellent investments as it is, and this value-add program says a lot about the integrity and quality of his garments and his business. I also see it as an environmentally conscious program in that it saves creating a whole new shirt.
For those wearing off-the-rack shirts, you may find everyday sweat, oil, and dirt mixed with the day’s food, drink, and anything else you get your hands into ends up on your cuffs. If you wear French-cuffed shirts, you may notice a discoloured strip on the outside fold; barrel cuffs soil inside and out. Follow the ring around the collar steps to clean your cuffs.
There you have it, gents – no more excuses for dirty collars and cuffs!