We successfully launder hundreds of shirts every week. And we are very good at it. But, like all things, shirts can outlive their useful life or exhibit other problems. Whether your shirts are store bought, custom-made, expensive, or inexpensive, the problems below identifies and explains are those we encounter from time to time.
“I can’t wear my favorite shirt anymore.”
The Dry Cleaning & Laundry Institute tells us that the average life expectancy of a shirt is about 35–50 washes, or roughly two years. But even this will fluctuate depending on the amount of abrasion and strain placed on the shirt during wear, the fiber content, and how the shirt is constructed. Sometimes they simply wear out. Shirts that are starched only last half as long as shirts that are not starched.
“Do you really have a person whose only job is to crack buttons?”
No. But we do quickly check every shirt for cracked or missing buttons and replace them before it is returned to you. Do we sometimes miss a button? Yes. But should this happen, you need only point it out and we will immediately take care of it.
“It’s a brand new shirt and the color has run all over it! You must have washed it wrong.”
The Federal Trade Commission’s Care Labeling Rule states that all components in a garment must withstand the recommended care procedures. If one or more dyes in a multi-colored shirt are not colorfast, bleeding will occur whether you wash it at home or we launder it for you. Significant dye failure is attributable to poor manufacturing and should be returned to the retailer.
“The collar and cuffs are full of wrinkles!”
Puckering and excess fabric in the collar and cuffs is often the result of the interfacing shrinking leaving an overabundance of outer fabric. We can’t reverse this circumstance. The manufacturer is responsible for using interfacing that is compatible with the shirt fabric.
“What happened to my pinstripes?”
At first glance it may look like color loss from bleach, yet a close examination will reveal that only the colored pinstripe yarns are missing, leaving a skeletal framework of the white yarns. Here’s why: the colored yarns were dyed with fiber-reactive or sulfur based dyes that degrade with repeated laundering. As the shirt nears its life expectancy, the colored yarns can simply wash away.
“Why are the underarm stains still there?”
Most damage in the underarm area is directly related to consumer use. Perspiration, if allowed to stay in a shirt will eventually stain and weaken the fabric. Aluminum chlorides, a key ingredient found in antiperspirants, also weaken the area under the arms. Frequent laundering after wear may minimize this type of damage.
“What are these gray stains on my sleeve seams?”
Discoloration or gray or shiny specks on the shirt seams, collar and cuffs, or placket occurs when the shirt manufacturer uses excessive and improperly applied adhesive to fuse interfacings with the outer fabric. In most cases, prevention of this damage is not possible since it cannot be identified prior to laundering.
“You shrunk my shirt.”
Typically, when a shirt is made, the manufacturer has allowed for two to three percent shrinkage by cutting fabric a little larger. Finished dimensions that exceed a pre-determined allowance may become too tight in the neck, too short in the sleeve length, and too tight around the middle. When this happens it is usually the result of poorly stabilized fabric and other elements of construction. There is very little we can do as professional cleaners that will cause excessive shrinkage.