Why Some Dress Shirts Feel Scratchy (And What Should Do)

A high-quality suit is only one element of an attractive formal outfit. You must also wear an equally high-quality dress shirt. Combined with the right suit, it will create the perfect formal outfit while enhancing your appearance in the process. Unfortunately, not all men’s dress shirts offer the same soft and comfortable texture. You may discover that some dress shirts have a rough or scratchy texture, which can cause serious discomfort over the course of an eight-hour period. So, what causes dress shirts to feel scratchy exactly?

Low Thread Count

One reason some dress shirts feel scratchy is because they are made of cotton — or other fabrics — with a low thread count. Just like bed sheets and linens are sold in various thread counts, so are dress shirts. Thread count refers to the total number of threads used in the dress shirt’s construction. Dress shirts with a higher thread count contain more threads than dress shirts with a lower thread count. If your dress shirt has a low thread count, you can expect it to feel rough and scratchy due to the low number of individual fibers. Therefore, you should consider investing in a premium dress shirt with a high thread count.

It’s New

New dress shirts are prone to having a rough or scratchy texture simply because they haven’t been broken in. If you just recently purchased your dress shirt and haven’t worn or washed it, this could be the reason for its scratchy texture. It’s recommended that you wash and dry new dress shirts before wearing them. By washing it, you’ll loosen up the fabric so that it’s softer and less scratchy. With that said, you should check the care label on your dress shirt to determine if it’s machine-washable. If the care label says “dry clean only,” do not place it in the washing machine. Instead, take it to a local dry cleaning business. While most conventional dress shirts are machine-washable, some should only be dry cleaned. And if you don’t follow the manufacturer’s advice, you could inadvertently damage your brand new dress shirt.

It’s Made of a Synthetic Fabric

Dress shirts made of a synthetic fabric like polyester or polyester blends are more likely to feel scratchy than dress shirts made of an organic fabric like cotton or linen. Synthetic fabrics, as you may know, are characterized by their man-made construction. They aren’t organic or natural. Rather, synthetic fabric are artificially produced. There are certain advantages to choosing a dress shirt made of a synthetic fabric than an organic fabric. For starters, synthetic fabric shirts are usually moisture and water resistant. Second, synthetic fabric dress shirts are more elastic than organic fabrics, allowing you to stretch them without damaging the fabric. But if you’re going to buy a dress shirt made of a synthetic fabric, keep in mind that it may feel scratchy.

It’s Suffering From Static Cling

Static cling can make dress shirts feel scratchy. This phenomenon occurs when a dress shirt or garment becomes positively charged with static electricity. When parts of a dress shirt rub together, the friction creates static electricity, which the shirt will hold until it’s discharged. While positively charged with static electricity, your dress shirt will attract dust, dirt, hair and debris. As these items accumulate on the surface of your shirt, it creates a scratchy texture while making your shirt a little less comfortable to wear. The good news is that you can protect your dress shirts from static cling using dryer sheets. When you dry a dress shirt, place a dryer sheet inside the drum. Alternatively, you can run a dryer sheet across the surface of your dress shirt to discharge its static electricity. Once the static electricity has been eliminated, it should feel softer and more comfortable to wear.

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You’re Using the Wrong Laundry Detergent

The type of laundry detergent with which you use to clean your dress shirt could affect its texture. If you use a low-quality detergent, it could degrade your shirt’s fabric, resulting in a scratchy texture. Don’t try to save a couple bucks by purchasing cheap, low-quality laundry detergent. To protect your dress shirt from premature aging, spend the extra money on premium, high-quality laundry detergent. Not only will preserve the softness of your shirt’s texture; it will also discourage fading, making it well worth the cost.

It’s Too Dry

If your dress shirt is too dry, it may feel scratchy when you wear it. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should soak your dress shirt in water before wearing it. Rather, store your dress shirt in a climate-controlled environment where you can easily regulate the humidity level. If you store it in a dry environment with a low humidity level, micro-sized moisture particles will evaporate out of your dress shirt and into the air. Over time, this will leave your dress shirt feeling dry and, subsequently, scratchy. You can protect your dress shirt from dryness, however, by maintaining a 40% to 50% humidity level in the area where it’s stored.

You Aren’t Using a Fabric Softener

When washing your dress shirt, consider using fabric softener. You can typically use fabric softener in conjunction with most laundry detergents. Just pour an appropriate amount of fabric softener into your washing machine, at which point it will soften your dress shirt. If you don’t have any fabric softener and need to wash your dress shirt ASAP, you can use vinegar as a natural alternative. Just 1 cup of distilled white vinegar should soften your dress shirt while eliminating its scratchy texture.

It’s Poorly Made

Finally, dress shirts that are poorly made often have a scratchy texture. Maybe a dress shirt has a low thread count, or perhaps it was constructed using poor craftsmanship. Regardless, low-quality dress shirts often suffer from a scratchy or rough texture. If you’re worried about a scratchy texture causing your discomfort, purchase high-quality, premium dress shirt made by a reputable brand.