Collar Stains
August 20, 2004 11:34 AM   Subscribe

Clothing stain filter: In addition to t-shirts, I have a number of shirts with a regular collar (non-button down). After I wear them for a while, EVERY ONE of them gets this little kind of brownish stain at in the front where the collar comes to a point. It looks kind of like rust. These stains are *really* hard to remove, and resistant to most stain removers. There are no similar stains anywhere on the shirt.

But my question is - what the heck is that stain? Where does it come from? Is it just me? Or is this a problem that all people who wear shirts with collars deal with but never talk about? Is this a message from the gods that I should only wear t shirts or only dark colored collared shirts?

BTW most of my shirts are wrinkle free cotton/poly blends, and they usually have one of those clear plastic collar stay things inside the material to keep the collar straight and pointy.
posted by jasper411 to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (21 answers total)
Do you wash the shirts yourself or do you get them laundered? Do you take the plastic tabs out when you wash them?
posted by SpecialK at 11:42 AM on August 20, 2004

I've never seen anything like that on any of my shirts. I'd try switching dry cleaners.

You might also try dabbing on something like CLR, one of those dangerous household cleaners that is meant to take rust stains out of bathtubs. Just be careful and make sure you rinse it well.
posted by bcwinters at 12:14 PM on August 20, 2004

Sounds like rust to me. Sometimes the inserts into the collar points are made of metal instead of plastic - if I were you I'd take one of the worst offenders and cut it open and find out, and if so, never buy that brand again.
posted by widdershins at 12:22 PM on August 20, 2004

It could be the plastic thing also. Heat aging in the dryer can drive out some of the stuff in the plastic. (Think the stuff that accumulates on your windshield for no apparent reason.)
posted by mss at 1:18 PM on August 20, 2004

Response by poster: I wash the shirts myself - never thought the plastic things would make any difference one way or the other, as they're just clear bits of, well, plastic. But I'll try removing them next time I wash a new shirt...
posted by jasper411 at 1:31 PM on August 20, 2004

The plastic things are called "collar stays", by the way. You should remove them before washing the shirt, if they aren't permanently sewn in. You replace them after ironing the collar.
posted by padraigin at 2:28 PM on August 20, 2004

Response by poster: Collar stays! Yeah that's it! Now I remember....

BTW, ironing is something I *never* do with my shirts - if it's not permanent press, I don't buy it. This has been a bit sad in the past, as I could never wear 100% cotton shirts. However, my wife recently found 100% cotton shirts at Nordstroms that don't require ironing. I got one, and it feels great! Fortunately, it's a deep brown color, so it wouldn't show the mystery stains, even if it got them.
posted by jasper411 at 2:50 PM on August 20, 2004

You've tried Shout and other stain removers? I only get ring around the collar on my button-downs but the removers usually work. I'm wondering if the washer or dryer is to blame--Do any of your other clothes ever get the same color stains?
posted by amberglow at 3:11 PM on August 20, 2004

or it could be something about the thread used, or if there's an interlining in the collars made out of some kind of cheap shit. (If you have an old, frayed shirt that you wear around the house, slice the collar open and see what's in there.)
posted by amberglow at 3:13 PM on August 20, 2004

You could also look into getting your shirts laundered, at least for a while, and see if that makes a difference. (Plus, that means you can wear 100% cotton, starched and pressed, with no extra effort. You'll look better at the start of the day, and you'll feel the difference by the end of a summer's day.)

Also, you can buy replacement collar stays in brass or stainless--they're meant to be taken out before the shirts get washed, but they work great.
posted by LairBob at 3:40 PM on August 20, 2004

While we're on the subject, I'm looking for a cheap place in NYC to have my shirts ironed.
posted by bingo at 4:30 PM on August 20, 2004


I don't mean to be flip, but even if you're not in Manhattan, it's tough to imagine being in NYC and more than a few blocks from a cleaner.

Especially if you're really looking to have your shirts cleaned and pressed, any place you can find is probably fine--they all really just ship their shirts out to the same huge cleaning outfits and get them back a day or two later, anyway, so the quality's pretty consistent.
posted by LairBob at 4:37 PM on August 20, 2004

I hate to sound like an infomercial shill, but Didi Seven really does work.
posted by Vidiot at 10:41 PM on August 20, 2004

I get the same mysterious stains on the points of my white shirt collars. I also launder them myself and always remove the collar stays before washing (plastic anyway). I have sometimes been able to get them out by brushing vigorously with a little liquid Tide, but have no idea where they come from. It seems to happen most with Calvin Klein shirts, I think.
posted by shinnin at 9:26 AM on August 21, 2004

LairBob: Yes, seriously. However, given your answer, you apparently didn't see the word CHEAP in my question. The issue for me is not how close the cleaner is, or whether it's probably fine, it's how much it costs.
posted by bingo at 12:58 PM on August 21, 2004

LairBob: Sorry, that was an overreaction. I guess I should have emphasized in my question that the cheap part is a priority. Obviously I am not looking for a place that will ruin my clothes, but I am paying $2 and change per shirt for a place right next door to me, and I feel that there must be a place where I can spend $1 per shirt. I am poor but I live and work in affluent areas, and am relatively new to the city, so my sense of what reasonable prices for things are is sometimes skewed.
posted by bingo at 1:27 PM on August 21, 2004

what neighborhood are you in, bingo?
posted by amberglow at 2:52 PM on August 21, 2004

np, bingo, but in that case, "NYC" is just kind of a broad area to look at, since if a suggestion isn't near your work or your home, it's not really going to be worth the effort. Who wants to spend an extra hour or two on the subway out to Queens or the north Bronx, just to save a couple of bucks?

Overall, though, I've found that the whole "shirt-cleaning" industry in NYC has gotten pretty commoditized in terms of infrastructure and pricing, which means that prices across the city are pretty consistent (since the cost to the cleaners is pretty consistent).

Best bet is to look for cleaners that actually do the cleaning on-location, since their overhead is fixed, and they may be competing on price. The 95% who aren't doing the cleaning on-site are probably paying $1.50+ a shirt to the central service, and can't really go a lot lower on their price to you.
posted by LairBob at 3:26 PM on August 21, 2004

also, think about bulk discount--bring in 5 or more at a time.
posted by amberglow at 3:41 PM on August 21, 2004

amberglow, i'm on the upper west side, and I work in times square.

Even in the area in which I live, there is a range of pricing on drop-off regular laundry services. There are a ton of dry-cleaners that obviously do the work on-site that I walk by every day, but most of them don't post the shirt-ironing rates in the windows, and I don't want to go into every single one of them and ask. I don't want to go to Queens of the north Bronx, but I wear a shirt that needs to be ironed or dry-cleaned almost every day, so going a bit out of my way once or twice a week with a bagful of shirts wouldn't be such a horrible thing.
posted by bingo at 8:57 AM on August 22, 2004

posted by bingo at 8:57 AM on August 22, 2004

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