Q. Why do my dress shirts seem to wear out so quickly?

Shirts may be one of the most common items that a dry cleaner sees, but that doesn’t mean that all shirts are created equal. Indeed, with more tailored styles and new fabrics and fabric blends, shirts continue to pose a variety of challenges both for home cleaning and dry cleaning.

What to look for when purchasing a quality shirt:

  • Check buttonholes to see that they are finished well.
  • Look for even stitching around the edges of the collar.
  • Make shure that the points of the collar rest on the shirt when worn.
  • Examine buttons for quality and consistency in size. Better quality buttons like mother of pearl mean fewer problems with breakage or chipping. Buttons should not be brittle which would lead to cracking, shearing or chipping. Plastic buttons are more durable but tend to be of lower quality. Check to see that extra buttons come with the shirt.
  • Look for collars without excess materials underneath. This feature makes the shirt difficult to press, will cause fading and make the fabric shiny. Most cleaners will charge extra to hand press this type of garment.

Checklist for shirt care:

  • Allow antiperspirant to dry before putting on your shirt. Or use clear antiperspirant.
  • By wearing your shirts only once and then cleaning them you will reduce perspiration stains or weakening of the fibers.
  • Be sure to read the care labels and follow the care instructions described.
  • In case of spills and stains, always blot up excess fluid, never rub and consult a dry cleaner as soon as possible.
  • Always point out any stains to your dry cleaner when you bring them in for cleaning.

What you should know about your shirts:

  • The average life expectancy of a shirt is between 35 to 50 washings, which is about 2 years.
  • Some manufacturers use fiber-reactive dyes, which can cause pinstripes to disappear during laundering.
  • Some cotton-polyester wrinkle-free shirts use adhesives in the collars and cuffs. During dry cleaning, these adhesives can soften, causing stiffness and staining.
  • Interfacings in collars can shrink, resulting in a puckered look.
  • Adhesive used to fuse interfacing in collars and cuffs can soften during pressing, making these areas look shiny or mottled, or causing stiffness and staining.