Men's Shirts: Launder or Dry Clean?

Almost every day we have a customer bring in men’s button down shirts without a clue as to whether to choose dry cleaning or laundering – well this post is meant to help you out!

Everyone has an opinion on just how often and in what way different fabrics and garments should be treated. This is why so many people wash their hands of the issue and simply come to rely on the expertise of a laundry and dry cleaning professional to decide for them, but for those of you who are interested in just which one to choose, we here at Pearl Street Laundry have all the information to share with you to aid in that decision.

First, let’s explain the difference in the cleaning process, as many people don’t know this! Laundering involves water and a washing process similar to "normal" laundry for basic clothing, while dry cleaning involves the use of chemical solvents in the washing machine rather than water and detergent.

So what do you choose? Right off the bat, we’ll tell you that your average men’s shirt should be laundered most of the time. The laundry process is much better at getting out the kind of skin to cloth contact oils that end up soiling and deteriorating your basic work shirts. Most men opt to allow their dry cleaning service to launder their shirts instead of running them through the dry cleaning process without even realizing it. This laundering process finishes with the shirt being pressed and starched based on the customer’s selection – no starch, light, medium or heavy – and can either be hung or boxed upon completion.

There are some situations where dry cleaning is certainly better however, such as in the case of some special fabrics that don’t do well with the rough tumble of traditional washers and dryers or water (hence the term dry cleaning). This is, of course, the main role of dry-cleaning in garment care – to deal with clothing that must be treated in a special way due to its fiber content or delicate nature. Even shirts that are normally laundered should be dry cleaned if there is heavy soiling or stains needing extra treatment. While the dry cleaning chemicals are superior in removing certain stains and cleaning delicate fabrics, proper shirt laundering can ultimately be better for your shirt in the long run.

There is also the difference in price between the two methods. Laundering is much less than dry cleaning, and depending on where exactly you live, dry cleaning can be an expensive line item, particularly if you are having every shirt dry-cleaned each and every time you wear it. While laundering is often a better and more cost conscience option for shirts, if you have nice business slacks or suits made from fine material dry cleaning is the best choice. The dry cleaning process lifts oil and dirt in a gentle way from material and fibers that do not react well to water and this can make your expensive work pants last quite a while longer.

Often times, it is best simply to ask the opinion of a dry cleaning professional whether a particular piece of clothing is better suited for laundry. Your dry cleaner is an expert, not only in reading and understanding the labels but also in relying on gut instinct to determine the best treatment option in all sorts of situations.

Whatever you decide, simply know that we here at Pearl Street Laundry are always willing to help you out. Swing by or call us for any and all laundry and dry cleaning related questions and concerns. With our near thirty years of experience in the business, we can probably assist you no matter how large the problem.