How to Prevent Dress Shirt Stains

Do your dress shirts tend to develop stains? This is an all-too-common problem encountered by men who regularly wear button-up dress shirts. Men’s dress shirts, of course, are typically designed with absorbent materials like cotton or linen. As a result, they can absorb stain-causing liquids and compounds. If this sounds familiar, you’ll be pleased to hear that you can prevent dress shirt stains by following a few simple tips.

Layer Up With an Undershirt

Wearing an undershirt can help protect your dress shirt from stains. Without an undershirt, your dress shirt will absorb perspiration from your body. Specifically, this may result in stains in the armpits of your dress shirt. You can prevent perspiration-related stains, however, by layering your outfit with an undershirt. Whether it’s a V-neck or turtleneck, an undershirt will create a protective layer between your skin and your dress shirt, thereby preventing the formation of perspiration-related stains.

Wear a Coat or Jacket

Another tip to protect against dress shirt stains is to wear a coat or jacket. If you happen to spill something, such as a beverage, your coat or jacket will absorb it rather than your dress shirt. You can then remove your coat or jacket until you get it cleaned.

Of course, you should only wear a coat or jacket if it matches your dress shirt. Your outerwear doesn’t have to be the exact same color as your dress shirt. Nonetheless, your coat or jacket should feature a similar, cohesive color as your dress shirt. If you’re wearing a black dress shirt, for example, don’t wear a brown or tan suit jacket. Instead, consider wearing a navy suit jacket.

Choose a Heavyweight Dress Shirt

The weight of your dress shirt will affect its susceptibility to staining. Generally speaking, lighter dress shirts are more likely to develop stains than heavier dress shirts. How does the weight of a dress shirt affect its susceptibility to staining exactly?

Well, heavyweight dress shirts are typically more resistant to water and other liquids when compared to lightweight dress shirts. They are heavier because they are constructed with more material than lightweight dress shirts. In turn, heavyweight dress shirts tend to “repel” liquids that would otherwise cause stains. If you’re worried that your dress shirt will develop a stain during the day, you may want to choose a heavyweight dress shirt for this very reason. As an added benefit, heavyweight dress shirts offer greater warmth than lightweight dress shirts, making them a great choice for the fall and winter months.

Consider a Linen Dress Shirt

For the highest level of protection against stains, you should consider wearing a linen dress shirt. Derived from fibers of the flax plant, linen is commonly used in the construction of men’s dress shirts. While most men are aware of linen’s exceptionally soft texture, another feature worth mentioning its natural protection against stains.

Compared to cotton, linen is about 20% less absorbent. It can and will absorb liquids, but linen is roughly one-fifth less absorbent than cotton. And because it’s less absorbent than cotton, linen is less likely to cause stains. By wearing a linen dress shirt, you can rest assured knowing that it’s less likely to absorb liquids than a cotton dress shirt. Furthermore, linen dress shirts are soft, supple and incredibly comfortable to wear.

Go With a Darker Color

Dark-colored dress shirts are generally better protected against stains than light-colored dress shirts. With that said, any dress shirt can develop stains, regardless of its color. Dark-colored dress shirts simply conceal stains better than light-colored dress shirts.

If you wear a black or navy dress shirt, a minor stain may go unnoticed. Dark colors like black and navy don’t show stains as easily as light colors. By sporting a dark-colored dress shirt, you’ll be better protected against stains.

Read the Care Tag

If you haven’t done so already, you should read the care tag on your dress shirt. All dress shirts have a care tag. It’s a label — typically found inside the collar — that contains information on how to wash and maintain them.

Not all men’s dress shirts are the same. There are dozens if not hundreds of types of men’s dress shirts, many of which require different steps to clean and maintain. If you use the wrong method, you may inadvertently stain your dress shirt. Therefore, you should read the care tag to determine the most effective, as well as the safest, way to clean and maintain your dress shirt.

Spot Treat Stains

Even if you follow these tips, you may notice an occasional stain on your dress shirt. There’s no such thing as a stain-proof dress shirt. Whether it’s cotton or linen, lightweight or heavyweight, all men’s dress shirts can develop stains. If a stain occurs, however, you don’t have to immediately wash your dress shirt. With a little work, you should be able to spot treat it.

Spot treating dress shirt stains involves spraying the affected area with a solution of warm water and detergent, followed by blotting the area dry with a paper towel or washcloth. You don’t want to scrub the stain. Rather, the correct way to spot treat dress shirt stains is to blot the area. Blotting will essentially pull the stain to the surface where it’s removed with the help of the paper towel or washcloth. If you scrub the stain, you’ll only force it deeper into your dress shirt where it’s more difficult to remove.

Dress shirts stains are frustrating — to say the least — but that doesn’t mean they are unavoidable. You can take precautions to keep your dress shirts stain free, some of which include wearing an undershirt, wearing a coat or jacket, wearing a heavyweight dress shirt, choosing linen, going with a dark color and reading the care tag. By following these tips, you can enjoy a stain-free dress shirt that reflects positively upon your personal style and image.