How to Properly Iron a Shirt | Shirt Laundering Taught by The Best
Deterioration in Laundry Care Rips the Fabric of Affluent America!
by Alexander S. Kabbaz, Master Bespoke Shirtmaker
From the caustic chemical concoctions currently called "Professional Laundry Detergent" to the super-heated steam-spewing slave-labor operated pressing machines, the entire thrust of modern laundry is productivity. Long gone are the days when someone actually looked at each shirt before handing it to the customer. As long as it's been through the washer and presser...it must be done!
Why bother to scrub the collar and cuffs by hand when boiling water, lye, hydroflouric acid and sodium hypochlorite will achieve something near the same degree of cleanliness? Why hand iron for 27 minutes per shirt that which a pressing machine can make flat and stiff as a board in 27 seconds? The simple answer is Profit. Long gone are the days when the key word in a laundry was Pride. Economics of scale says it all. If your shirt spends 30 minutes in a 300 shirt washer/extractor, then the cost is for 6 seconds of machine work. Another 30 seconds of labor on the pressing machine and the total comes to 36 seconds. And all that suffers is...your shirt!
Want twice the life out of your shirts and blouses? Read on ...
All this is just wonderful for the bottom line of a custom shirtmaker, especially one who uses the finer Swiss and Italian shirt fabrics. These fine fabrics naturally deteriorate more rapidly when improperly cared for...but then you wouldn't take a Rolls Royce to a Yugo mechanic, would you? During the past twenty years, the number of shirts we receive to refurbish with new collars, new cuffs, new buttons and various other maltreated parts has more than tripled. Whereas we used to receive ten-year old shirts and make them virtually new again....the bodies will last for two hundred washings if done correctly...we now see ruined shirts we lovingly crafted as recently as just six months previously.
The problem is worldwide. Sadly enough, with a few rare exceptions, I'd find it impossible to send you to quality laundry. What can you do?
A few solutions exist. You could find, train for years, and then struggle to keep your own laundress at home. Should that not be in the cards, a solution which has worked for some is a bit involved. Many Chinese laundries do a good job at the ironing part. That's the upside. The downside is that they send the shirts to a central launderer for (improper) washing. An ideal solution therefore is to wash your shirts and blouses at home as I describe below and then negotiate with your local Chinese laundry to press them for you. By the way, our advice is that you get them on hangers if you have the closet space. Should you have them folded, they won't be as well pressed. The presser knows that folding them is going to wrinkle them and thereby disguise any lapses on his part.
As you can see from the photo, I've had a few years of practice with ultrafine garments.
Want to know how your laundry should really be done? Read on MacDuff!
|Following just these few simple procedures will greatly extend the life of your fine cotton shirts as well as insuring cleanliness and a neat appearance. Proper technique requires a two-day cycle.
Note: Octagon has been discontinued. Single bars are now selling on Ebay for north of $30 each. Find a good, scent-free hand-washing soap bar and try it. Wish I could offer a better solution other than beating your clothes on a rock down by the river.
|The next day, machine wash as follows:
Warm Water in Summer if Very Soiled
Cold Water the rest of the time
Warm Water Only if Very Soiled
Cold water the rest of the time
Cold water all of the time
|After testing many detergents, Tide Unscented Original Powder has been found to offer the best results for fine cotton shirts. After cycle is complete, tumble dry on 'No Heat' setting until shirts are just damp. Or, if you have the facilities, line dry outside until just damp. Hang on a white plastic hanger.
|The Shirt should be damp all over. Use either Steam or Dry Iron. Use the 'Cotton' temperature setting. The 'Burst of Steam' button is not recommended. Best is a water mister spray bottle(plant mister).