Dear Home-Ec 101,
I’m a guy, and like most guys my age, I have quite a collection of polo/collared shirts. Most of them have developed some sort of collar disease–some are flipped, some are curly, and some seem to have permanent folds. Is there some sort of laundry technique I can use to save these otherwise-unwearable shirts? Thanks!
Laundry-Challenged in Lytton
Mr. Challenged, I am quite sorry I didn’t get to your question in a very timely manner. I despise ironing, and apparently Heather’s not a fan, either, so we’re late answering your question. But this is how much we love our Home-Ec 101 readers- I got out the ironing board and steam iron so I could take pictures to make this post make more sense.
Now, as far as regular laundry techniques, make sure you take your shirts out of the dryer as soon as the dryer is finished running and hang your shirts up. This will help your collars stay fresher longer. You can also make sure you are washing like fabric weights together- such as washing all your polo shirts in the same load. Make sure you are not overfilling the washer. The sad, scary truth, though, is you’re going to have to iron your shirts.
(Pay no attention to the little dog in the picture. He decided he wanted to go outside the moment I set up the ironing board.)
Get your ironing board out and lay your shirt over it, with the collar flipped up. Fill your iron with distilled water (Why does it have to be distilled? I don’t know. Deposits, maybe.) and turn it on to medium. Let it heat up fully.
Once the iron is hot, you’ll want to
strike start ironing the collar flat. Use your steam liberally, it will help iron the collar out. Yes, you want to iron it first with the collar flipped up. No, I don’t know why. That’s just how I was taught. If you would like your collars to be nice and stiff, use some spray starch on the collar at this point. Just spray it on evenly and iron away. Make sure you keep the iron constantly moving so you don’t burn your shirt.
Then fold the collar down the way you want to wear it. If you’re a fan of popped collars, you’re done, but we’ll pretend that silly 1980s style is NOT back “in” and I’ll show you how to iron your collar down.
Iron just the top edge of your collar. In the picture, I’m ironing a bit farther in than I should be. You should only iron about a half inch in from the top of the collar. It’ll make your collar look nice and crisp.
When you’re finished, you can go in and iron the rest of the shirt if it is necessary, but if you’re getting the shirts out of the dryer right away, you shouldn’t have to.