The Ivy Style Community Guide To Keeping Your White Shirts Clean

Recently on the Ivy Style Facebook page, an important question was posed to the members: how do you keep your white shirts looking white, especially around the collar?

The post was quickly inundated with various pieces of advice, which ranged from home remedies to professional laundering. The great, and varying, advice from that post has been compiled below for your convenience.

* Rub OxiClean liquid detergent (or White Revive) on the inner collar band with a toothbrush before putting your shirt in the wash.

* Use an OxiClean stain stick on yellowed areas before putting your shirt in the wash.

* Put OxiClean powder in the wash with your shirt.

* Spray Shout on yellowed areas before putting your shirt in the wash.

* Rub Fels-Naptha soap bar on wet inner collar band before putting you shirt in the wash. Scrub soap in with a brush for a deeper cleaning.

* For European readers, use a Hirsch soap bar in the same way as Fels-Naptha.

* Buy cloth tape from your local drugstore and line your inner collar.

* For a natural remedy, rub lemon juice into the inner collar band and let sit in the sun for a few minutes.

* Rub bleach into yellowed areas before washing your shirt.

* Rub the collar and cuffs soap bar by The Laundress, sold at J. Crew.

* Professionally launder with heavy starch (Editor’s Note: what does this neatnik think starch has to do with stains?)

* Make a paste out of crushed aspirin and liquid Ivory soap and scrub into yellowed areas

* Finally, Never machine dry, always cold wash and hang-dry.

As for stain prevention, one commenter put it bluntly: “Not so long as you are a corporeal being exuding effluence in various forms out of your entire body.” Fighting nature is always a losing battle.

If you have your own secret remedy to ring-around-the-collar — and cuffs and armpit — feel free to leave it below. — GERLANDO SCIASCIA

Pictured is film director Elia Kazan. Born in Istanbul to Greek parents, Kazan attended Williams College and the Yale School Of Drama and is best known for the films “A Streetcar Named Desire,” “On The Waterfront,” “East Of Eden,” and “Splendor In The Grass.” Briefly a Communist in the 1930s, he played a pivotal role in the Hollywood witch hunt when he testified before Congress and revealed the names of other Communists.

27 Comments on "The Ivy Style Community Guide To Keeping Your White Shirts Clean"

  1. Why make this so difficult?

    For ring around the collar, try Dawn liquid dish soap. I use the clear kind.

    Run your shirt’s collar under a cold tap. Apply a small drop of the soap and rub the collar using each end of itself until you create a lather along the entire inside of the collar. Rinse, do the same steps for the inside of the cuffs and toss it in the wash. Takes 45-60 seconds a shirt. You will see the ring start to disappear almost immediately. If you want to be extra sure, you can repeat the lather and rinse before you toss it in the washer.

    Dish soap is designed to cut through grease, which is a form of oil. The ring on your collar is partially caused by oil that your body produces. It works for me.

  2. I don’t think we’re trying to make this complicated; we’re trying to show all the options available. Your last line sums it up: “works for me.”

  3. ahassinger | April 13, 2017 at 2:20 pm |

    #1 have plenty of white shirts and send them out to be laundered #2 see #1

  4. Mitchell S. | April 13, 2017 at 3:04 pm |

    I don’t want to sound like a smart Aleck, but it probably is best to wear a striped shirt or a color besides white. Ecru, grey, or light blue are good choices.

  5. Google “put this on oxiclean” and check out the first entry. The clothing blog PTO had a detailed regimen for badly stained shirts and it can work very, very well. Basically it is vinegar, concentrated oxiclean, regular oxiclean, regular laundry. It takes about 48 hours from start to finish due to lots of soaking time, but it is a real blessing.

    If you are going to have your shirts laundered by someone else be sure to do your homework. Most cleaners do an abysmal job pre-treating shirts unless there is a very prominent stain.

  6. Charlottesville | April 13, 2017 at 3:24 pm |

    Lots to choose from here. I’m in the send-it-to-the-laundry camp on this. I started sending my OCBDs and dress shirts out when I was still in school, and have not looked back. While I no longer starch them to sheet-rock stiffness, that was the style in my circle at the time and it took quite an effort with spray can and iron to achieve it. However, casual shirts are different, and I sometimes use Oxy on the collars of white polo shirts, seersucker and other light-colored sport shirts. As others have said, “works for me.”

  7. Mitchell, one shouldn’t avoid wearing white shirts because they can they can get yellowed. This guide is meant to help you keep your whites white.

  8. Just a few weeks ago I read of Fels-Naptha soap bar as a good way to treat collars, etc. Went by local big box store and picked one up for 97 cents. Darn thing works like a charm and will last forever at the rate it gets used. Works better and is much more efficient than any of the sprays.

  9. I like Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds concentrate. It’s a simple, pine-fresh smelling liquid with six ingredients. I wet the stained area, pour a little out of an old Shout stick, directly onto the stain, use the brush on the Shout stick to work up a little lather, let it sit for a few minutes, and launder as usual. Presto.

  10. I’d never heard of the Fels thing and think it’s pretty cool that it’s a hundred-year-old recipe. I’ll give it a try, especially as I’m the one who posted this to the Facebook group. Thanks everyone for weighing in as my white shirts seemed to start yellowing almost immediately. Too much gin in my sweat?

  11. GS

    One should not be dictating what color shirts a fellow chooses to wear got what ever his reasons. A bit presumptuous on your part.

  12. Sorry for the typographical error please strike the word “got” from my last comment.

  13. I usually use the OxyClean gel stick or Lestoil on my collars. I have used the PTO “bucket” method for heavy stains and it’s worked well for me.

    @Perry I have a Fells-Naptha bar that must be twenty years old. It is now about 1/2″ high. Works on all sorts of tough stains. A super-cheap solution.

    The cloth tape or first aid tape is an intriguing idea and I’m going to try that on hot humid days. I may try Dawn, too.

  14. Mr. Korn I’ll have you know that writing this guide has given me the authority to dictate the sartorial choices of others. I decree white shirts for all.

  15. Vern Trotter | April 13, 2017 at 8:10 pm |

    Fels-Naptha, an American wonder product, has been doing this since before the Spanish-American war. Other uses for us are cleaning white canvas shoes, removing wine stains, necktie spot remover, insect control, deer repellant, treating poison ivy. Received lots of publicity when President Reagan claimed to use it to kill weeds on his ranch.

  16. GS

    I must admit that your area of expertise in clothing surely is cleaning, pressing, and removing stains from soiled shirts. Any tips on removing yellow mustard stains from a white shirts after a mishap at the ball park? How about removing the occasional stain from red wine on a white OCBD after a spill at lunch or dinner?

  17. yellow i think can be caused by the ingredients in deodorant – i recall that some sunblock can cause the same thing- i *think* bar keepers friend gets out because it’s essentially the same thing as rust.

    Google around people have removed years of pit stains using it

    i have had success with oxiclean and jcrew’s soap and dawn …also i have a spin dryer (no heat ) at home and it spin dry non iron shirts and hang dry them – that way even if there is a stain it doesn’t ‘bake in’ plus the shirts last longer because they don’t go in that heat cycle.

  18. Legacy of Clean Prewash Spay takes no effort and my collars are spotless.

    Even cleans the collars on BB no-iron shirts, which always look worse at the collar.

  19. Mr. Korn try spraying some Shout on the stains and letting it sit for a bit before throwing your shirt in the wash.

  20. GS

    Thank you.

  21. I get a warm fuzzy feeling when you guys get along.

  22. BTW, Mr. Kazan is wearing a rep stripe with his buttondown. Had to scan the image (from “Hollywood And The Ivy Look”) and it came out dark.

    I think I’ll watch “Splendor In The Grass” again as I don’t remember it. Isn’t Natalie Wood in that?

    I’ve a weakness for pretty brunette actresses named Natalie (cf: Portman).

  23. That was Wood and Beatty. I haven’t seen any of Kazan’s films but I will eventually. He attended high school in my county, Westchester, which automatically makes him a better person.

  24. @H.Korn,

    club soda applied quickly can prevent, or at least ameliorate, stains from a wide variety of substances.

  25. One might also consider using Mrs. Stewart’s Bluing for white shirts, not really for stain removal but to keep the shirts from looking dingy:

  26. For the discoloration around collars caused by skin oil and sweat (i.e., not stains like mustard or wine), I find spray Oxi-Clean is up to the job. I spray the collar immediately after I take off the shirt. After letting it soak a while, I wash the shirt in regular laundry detergent. I dry the shirt on low and toss it in the pile that goes to the laundry on Saturday. Yes, I wash the shirt before having it laundered. I do a better job of washing and the laundry does a better job of starching and pressing. We work beautifully together, though the lady at the cleaner occasionally looks askance at me when I deliver a load of shirts that have obviously been washed.

  27. @ROI

    You magnificent bastard.


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