Single guys that wear button-up shirts to work -- help?
December 21, 2017 8:23 AM   Subscribe

Is there a way to wear dress up shirts without ironing or dry cleaning? Is there a special brand that you can just wash yourself? If so, can you please explain in detail how you accomplish the washing/drying part - washer settings, dryer settings, brand of soap or weird dryer stuff - whatever. No cheating. I'm single and gay, so no wife here to help.
posted by Craig to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (41 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You're looking for "no-iron shirts". Google around for that term. I'm a lady-type person but I wear collared button downs. Brooks Brothers no-irons I can just wash and hang dry and they don't get wrinkly.
posted by edbles at 8:27 AM on December 21, 2017 [15 favorites]

What's your budget and time constraint ? (and/or fashion constraint - how high end or what label do you need/want on the shirt ?)

There are wrinkle free shirts/oxfords, and wash them like the label says (water temp and dryer temp), pull them out of the dryer as soon as the dryer is done (and put them on a hangar). Regular laundry soap and no fabric softener is how we roll.
posted by k5.user at 8:30 AM on December 21, 2017 [3 favorites]

Something like this could work. I have the lady equivalent and have had good luck. My advice would be to wash cold, dry low, don't leave sitting in the dryer, hang immediately, or just follow the handling advice on the tag.
posted by *s at 8:30 AM on December 21, 2017

+1 to non-iron shirts, wash and hang dry.
posted by A Robot Ninja at 8:30 AM on December 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

Here's what I do.

Buy non-wrinkle Oxfords.
Hang them on hanger, smoothing them out.
The day that you are going to wear them, put them in the bathroom when you shower and then smooth again.
posted by Draccy at 8:32 AM on December 21, 2017 [4 favorites]

Wash. Hang to dry. If wrinkled, throw in dryer with a damp white washcloth for 10 minutes. I line-dry most laundry and use my dryer more for de-wrinkling.
posted by theora55 at 8:33 AM on December 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yeah, other then for my wedding/funeral suit I don't buy any shirts that aren't advertised as "Wrinkle Free." You just have to take them out of the dryer right away and hang them. Don't let them sit. Even if they do though, you just give them another spin and hang 'em when they're still warm.
posted by bondcliff at 8:35 AM on December 21, 2017 [3 favorites]

Many dryers also have a "freshen up" short cycle to remove wrinkles. This works for me when shirts haven't been hung up soon enough after the actual drying cycle and have gone wrinkly.
posted by briank at 8:36 AM on December 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

My boyfriend get his wrinkle free shirts from Jos A Banks and puts them in the dryer for about 10 minutes before work then puts them one straight from there and is ready to go.
posted by raccoon409 at 8:36 AM on December 21, 2017

I wear "button up" (button down?) to work every day. I do my laundry but I iron since most of my shirts need it; it's not that hard and the payoff in looking crisp is high. If you want to totally avoid ironing I'd point you toward Eddie Bauer's "Wrinkle Free" line. They look pretty good without ironing but better with.

Everything I have is machine wash cold, "automatic" (warm) dry, and either pull them out of the dryer as soon as the cycle is done or use a "wrinkle prevention" setting that tumbles the load periodically after it's done. The smaller the load the less wrinkles you'll end up with. You might even try the gentle wash cycle, I think that ends up with a slower spin; higher speeds seem to set folds and wrinkles into the wet clothes.
posted by achrise at 8:36 AM on December 21, 2017

Agreed, no-iron dress shirts. Regular wash, line dry.

My sister prefers a clothes steamer for her dress clothes.
posted by carrioncomfort at 8:36 AM on December 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yes, look for no-iron shirts. As for washer settings: Cold or warm water is fine; I’d avoid boiling hot. You can use whatever brand of detergent you normally use. Avoid bleach even for white shirts; it can interact with sweat to create yellow stains. Don’t use the dryer; hang dry instead. I mean, the dryer isn’t likely to really hurt them, but hanging to dry eliminates the risk of shrinkage or damage in the dryer, and the shirts will last longer.

If you absolutely do not want to ever iron, I recommend getting a handheld clothes steamer. Even a no-iron shirt can get crumpled if left crammed in a drawer or suitcase and may need a little help.
posted by snowmentality at 8:38 AM on December 21, 2017

I think the big question is "how formal is your workplace?" If you're wearing a suit with smooth white and blue dress shirts that need to look crisp and starchy, the only options are ironing or purchasing "no-iron" shirts, which are treated with resin.

I hand- or machine-wash non-non-iron shirts (I'm apparently one of the jerks that can't stand the "plasticy" feel of non-iron) and hang them on hangers to dry. The vast majority lose their wrinkles while drying or after a few minutes of wear. The major factor I've noticed is fabric type--coarser weaves like oxford cloth or chambray and most twills are considerably less wrinkly. Poplin tends to hold on to wrinkles.
posted by pullayup at 8:39 AM on December 21, 2017 [9 favorites]

Yeah this isn’t magic. Maybe it’s a classification/nomenclature issue?

E.g. I’m partial to collared oxford cloth button up shirts like so (Though I pay much less for mine). I wash on cold/normal, and tumble dry on medium/permanent press, and then hang them, no special treatment at all.

Though they button up and I can wear them to work at and teach at University, they aren’t really ‘dress shirts’ in the narrow sense. For that, you can treat them pretty much the same as above, but you should indeed look for ‘no iron’ or ‘wrinkle free’ badging or similar, e.g. Kohl’s has ‘easy care’ dress shirts.

Sure, get an iron and learn to use it if you want to look like a model or movie star, but imo no need for that except in very formal circumstances. You don’t say where you work, or at what level, so ymmv.
posted by SaltySalticid at 8:39 AM on December 21, 2017

my husband does his own laundry and only owns no-iron shirts, one for each day of the week, plus some spares. The only effort he has to do is to wash the lot on Saturday, shake out the shirt before hanging (grip at the shoulder seams and shake them once vigourosly) and hang them on hangers, then let them dry (we do not have a dryer). They look perfect. Just don't let them sit in the washing machine too long, best to hang them right away. If you do forget them in the machine and wrinkles have set in, just repeat the rinse/spin part of the cycle again.
posted by 15L06 at 8:39 AM on December 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

Nordstrom has great no-iron wrinkle-free shirts. They are on their website and in their stores. You can also find them at Nordstrom Rack. The best part about them is that you can get them in actual collar and sleeve sizes (as opposed to S,M,L). They have them in pinpoint oxford, stripes and plaids.

Their next Half Yearly Sale will be December 26th, too.
posted by dancinglamb at 8:40 AM on December 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Nthing "no-iron" shirts. Don't put them in the dryer, just hang them up once they come out of the wash. I put my shirts on hangers and hang them from a doorjamb since we don't have much space in our apartment.

As a bonus, this works decently well with some regular shirts, too, to the point where I have several regular cotton shirts I only iron every other time I wear. Printed shirts with smooth textures do better than woven shirts with rougher textures.

(PSA: "button-up" refers to the shirt; "button-down" refers to the collar)
posted by thecaddy at 8:42 AM on December 21, 2017 [3 favorites]

We have a front-load washing machine so in the hope that this will be helpful for other people:

Non-iron shirts if possible
Any washing powder or liquid
Fabric softener
Lowing spin speed (800-1000, no higher)
Take straight out of machine as soon as the cycle of finished, and shake to get the creases out
Hang on clothes hanger to air dry, with collar fastened to keep the front flat

We iron practically nothing in our house.
posted by tinkletown at 8:44 AM on December 21, 2017

I get my no-iron shirts from Eddie Bauer and Brooks Brothers.

Fwiw, the secret ingredient is formaldehyde.
posted by falsedmitri at 8:44 AM on December 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

$39 Non-Iron shirts from Charles Trywhitt

I've worn them for last 5 years. Good styles. Probably get 50 wears out of them.
posted by sandmanwv at 8:45 AM on December 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

I think everyone else has gone over the settings so I'll just pop in to mention that I get my shirts from Twillory and I'm really pleased with the fit, the material, and the nice metal collar stays as well. Not to mention I've had legit pleasant conversations with their customer service person(s) which only made me want to shop with them even more.
posted by komara at 8:48 AM on December 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

"Fwiw, the secret ingredient is formaldehyde."

Totally forgot to mention that this is another reason I went with Twillory - their SafeCotton(tm) shirts are formaldehyde free.
posted by komara at 8:56 AM on December 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Women aren’t born with special knowledge about fabric care, so your assumption that a “wife” would know this is based in bad sexist stereotypes.

I think others have got the “no iron” suggestion covered, and then you just follow the instructions sewn into the shirt.
posted by kapers at 9:02 AM on December 21, 2017 [96 favorites]

Just as a data point, I have much better luck with "non-iron" shirts than with "wrinkle-free" shirts. For some reason, even though both are laundered the same, the "wrinkle-free" shirts are more akin to my regular shirts, but my "non-iron" shirts look wrinkle-free.
posted by China Grover at 9:08 AM on December 21, 2017

I know you specified "no ironing" but ironing is actually pretty easy for guys button-up shirts and is one of those tasks that works well as an assembly-line type activity where you do a whole bunch of them all in a row while watching tv or listening to music. And irons and ironing boards are cheap.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:14 AM on December 21, 2017 [3 favorites]

Personally every dress shirt I own is a Banana Republic non-iron as is every pair of dress pants. I have not handled an iron in 5 years.

A regular shirt fresh out of the drier looks fine in most cases but it won't look nice and sharp and flat IMO.
posted by ftm at 9:39 AM on December 21, 2017

One more data point:

I have several non-iron oxfords as well as many (more) of the traditional type. NO non-iron oxfords breathe as well as the untreated cotton, but there's absolutely a continuum of comfort in my experience.

The best ones are the Nordstrom house brand, followed closely by Brooks Brothers. At the bottom of the pile by a significant margin are the Jos. Banks.
posted by uberchet at 9:40 AM on December 21, 2017

everyone's got the washing/drying covered, but I also want to add that if you wear a t-shirt under the button-up shirt (and you should), you can take it off as soon as you get home and hang it up. As long as it's not stained and passes the sniff test, you can wear it again.
posted by AFABulous at 9:56 AM on December 21, 2017 [4 favorites]

Buy an iron and ironing board. Ironing a shirt is not that hard. After washing dry until damp and hang. I my shirts as I wear them takes a couple of minutes to do. No-iron shirts are great too.

First do back (underside) of collar then front of collar, then move to sleeves starting at the cuff, then start on one side of the front of the shirt rotate around to back and then the other side of the front. I'm sure there are YouTube videos.
posted by tman99 at 10:06 AM on December 21, 2017

Another vote for Brooks Brothers non-iron.

FWIW, I actually disagree with this:

Nthing "no-iron" shirts. Don't put them in the dryer, just hang them up once they come out of the wash.

I find that the Brooks Brothers shirts at least (I haven't tried another brand in years) come out best when I not only put them in the dryer, but run them on the "permanent press" cycle until they're completely dry. If I hang them directly out of the wash, or pull them out of the dryer while still damp, they aren't nearly as perfect looking. It's quite likely that they don't last as long if fully dried, but my experience is that fully drying is the only way to go with these if your priority is having them look good.
posted by primethyme at 10:42 AM on December 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Depending on how you value your time, you could also look into a laundry service. The place we've used a few times in DC will do shirts for $2.40 each "machine pressed" and $4.95 each "hand pressed," and that's with free pickup and delivery. Pricing in your local market will, of course, vary.

I wear 37" sleeves, and my dress shirts come out of our front-loading washer/dryer combo unit literally tied in knots. Lower spin speed doesn't help enough. For one shirt every now and then I'll do the ironing (best results: pull it out of the dryer cycle when it's still damp), but if I had to wear them every day I'd just outsource the work and pay for it.
posted by fedward at 10:46 AM on December 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

FWIW, regular, not no-iron dress shirts don't usually get dry cleaned, either. If they're cotton or cotton blend, even if you take them to a dry cleaner they get laundered and pressed, and it's a lot cheaper than the items that are actually dry cleaned.

I know this because it's what my husband does with his shirts, not because I am a wife and hence automatically know how to care for shirts. If I were in charge of my husband's shirts, they'd be in worse shape than yours.
posted by Kriesa at 11:11 AM on December 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

without ironing or dry cleaning

Yeah, I was just about to say what Kriesa said. Get those shirts laundered and pressed for like $2 each or less (many dry cleaners will have a $1/shirt for more than 5 shirts on Tuesdays deal or similar). If you value your time very much at all, it is a great savings and your shirts always look great. The only problem is I've always had problems with cleaners breaking buttons. They replace them for free, of course, but make sure you only buy shirts with "normal" buttons, otherwise they won't be able to find ones that match perfectly.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:16 AM on December 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

I wear button downs almost every day, and I never iron them. I wear them multiple times between washings-I wear an undershirt that is always fresh. Before I put one on, I evaluate whether it's fresh enough to wear again-some shirts are lucky to make it twice, some can get through five or six wearings. I put the rejects in a laundry pile, and when I have a quorum, I have them laundered and pressed at the dry cleaner-as others have mentioned, this is much less expensive than actual dry cleaning.

This strategy has worked well for me for half a decade now. It perhaps wouldn't work in a truly fashion-forward workplace, but I dress very well relative to my peer group of, er, software engineers in Seattle. So your mileage will vary.
posted by Kwine at 11:21 AM on December 21, 2017

When I was a wife, my husband suddenly had a job, where he needed nice, crisp, dress shirts. At the time, it was taking me several minutes per shirt to iron them, and then washing and drying time. I checked out what it would take to have them professionally laundered, it was .98 per shirt. We just made sure he had 10 of them, and then for five dollars, a week, his shirts were perfect. They were not dry cleaned, they were laundered and ironed. It might not be much more than that now. Sometimes there are bulk deals. However I know a guy who hovers about the dryer, and pulls his shirts out damp and hangs them on chairs, and etc to finish, then they don't shrink, and they have no wrinkles. The dryer has to be hot to make this work. It is a ten minute stint in the dryer.
posted by Oyéah at 12:18 PM on December 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

nthing steamer - works great! I do have an iron for really stubborn stuff but rarely use it. Also, I never take stuff for dry cleaning and just use Dryel for 'dry clean only' stuff.
posted by destructive cactus at 12:43 PM on December 21, 2017

There are exactly zero types of non-iron shirts that look as good as nicely starched and pressed shirts. None. Zilch. They do not exist, although not for lack of Manhattan Project levels of effort to produce one.

You can certainly get some non-iron shirts (Joseph A. Banks' are a good start) and see what you think of them... the best results I've ever gotten are by running them through the washer on the "Permanent Press" cycle, getting them immediately out after the end of the spin, putting them directly into the dryer on its Permanent Press cycle, then pulling them out the second they're done (still hot!) and hanging them up. You can get something that at least looks pretty fresh, in my opinion, this way. But pity the fool who doesn't grab them out of the washer or dryer fast enough... you've just earned yourself either a re-do of the whole process, or a hand iron.

And in the best case, if everyone you're sitting around with at work is wearing shirts that have been actually pressed, it's not going to look the same. (Unless you're wearing it under a suit coat, in which case it might not be obvious—there, if you want to be lazy, you can just quickly hand-iron the front and cuffs and call it a day.)

Personally, I don't think mucking around with non-iron shirts is worth the time and extra cost of the shirts. Shirt laundry (at least for traditional mens shirts) is absurdly inexpensive for the labor involved, at least in most major cities if you shop around a bit; typically under a buck a shirt. (I've paid as much as $2 or $3 a shirt for the convenience of a storefront operation in a commercial area in NYC, but even there I could have gotten $1.25/per by doing more shirts at once and scheduling a pickup.) Anyway, I'd do a little research and see how much places charge, if you can save money by doing them semi-weekly instead of weekly, etc. It might make sense to buy more shirts and do bigger batches, or might not.

But just generally speaking, this is one of those things in which a whole sector of the economy has basically built itself around your (as a button-shirt-wearing dude) convenience and is competing tooth and nail for business. Might as well take them up on it.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:56 PM on December 21, 2017 [3 favorites]

I was reading the comments and wondering why no one had suggested laundry service, but finally the tide turned. That's the only way to get a truly crisp shirt. It's actually the reason why I don't iron anymore. I always wondered why my ironed shirts never looked as good as other shirts I'd see people wearing, and eventually I realized their shirts were being pressed. I work in a casual environment, so pressing is unnecessary. FWIW, you can get must-iron (non-non-iron) shirts decently smooth just by keeping your load sizes small and hanging the shirts as soon as the dryer cycle ends. Not wear-with-a-suit smooth, but good enough for business casual. Overstuffed loads (especially in the washer, which usually has a smaller capacity than the dryer) are a much bigger cause of wrinkles than any machine settings or products.
posted by kevinbelt at 5:22 PM on December 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Lots of good advice above, but came in to say this is why I love thrift stores. I always find nice men's dress shirts. If they look decent after being smushed onto the rack at Goodwill, odds are good they can withstand my lackluster laundry practices. For an extra wrinkle test, crush the fabric in your fist for a few seconds and see what happens. Shop by feel to find out what brands/fabrics/wrinkle treatments you like. Check for stains and read the labels. 100% cotton is best. No polyester unless you enjoy the thrift store smell.

But yeah, laundry service is the bomb too.
posted by doift at 7:02 PM on December 21, 2017

Woman here who has as much of a clue (and experience) as you do, but these two men at Lifehacker have some tips on how to de-wrinkle your shirt without using an iron here and here. Along the same line of using steam and hot temperature, you can also just invest in a steamer, which also comes in a portable size so you can take it with you on business trips. Alternatively, dry your wrinkled shirts on permanent press, as suggested here.
posted by postmortemsalmon at 10:52 AM on December 22, 2017

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