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Caring for Cotton - Washing and Ironing

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Although CarbonCopy Shirts are well made, even they will not last long if they have not been properly looked after. But fear not - because looking after cotton shirts is actually not as tricky as you would imagine. An understanding of the proper ways to care for a cotton shirt, as well as an understanding of how and why we iron shirts, and you will find that your CarbonCopy business shirt will last for quite some time, as well as look great for as long as possible!

The first rule about looking after cotton dress shirts revolves around washing them. One thing that should be done is to read the label of your dress shirt and make sure that it is 100% cotton, and the care instructions that will be written there. Secondly, when it comes to washing your cotton clothes together, make sure your heavier cotton clothes, such as denim or corduroy, are separated from your dress shirts or tees, as the heavier cloth can cause damage - and make sure you wash cotton on a cool or cold setting.

As you put your dress shirts in the was as well, make sure the buttons are undone, as if the shirt is still buttoned this can place stress on the fabric and the buttons, which can cause damage to the shirt. Furthermore, pre-treat any stains that may be on the shirt before putting it in the machine - if you can reduce the amount of gunk and dirt on your business shirt, it will be much easier for the stain/s to come out. And make sure you wash your colours separately - whites, dark colours and bright colours - because the last thing you need to worry about is your pristine white dress shirt coming out a faded pink!

Once it has been washed, the shirt should be dried (obviously - wet shirts are not ideal for anything really, except for giving you a cold). It is usually best to avoid a drier if you can - they have a tendency to damage shirts by straining the fabrics. Ideally you should hang your shirts on a wooden or plastic clothes hanger. Avoid those wire clothes hangers like the plague, as they tend to distort the shape of clothes (not just shirts either, so do not put a suit on a wire coat hanger either). If it is impossible or impractical to use a hanger (space or weather problems, for example), then a drier is acceptable. Make sure when you use a drier that you pull the dress shirts out before they are completely dry, as it is better for ironing (see below), and helps to prevent the shirts from shrinking.

As noted above, you should have pulled your cotton dress shirts out of the drier whilst they were still damp (not sopping wet though) for the purpose of ironing. Why iron your shirt whilst it's still damp and not been on a clothes hangar for a few hours? Because it allows you to really get to those creases without having to use the iron's steamer function. As to why would you iron at all, an ironed shirt helps you look much sharper than your un-ironed counterparts. This may seem inconsequential at a glance, but it is important to show that you someone who appreciates details - you never who you may end up meeting during the day after all.  You wouldn't want to meet a highly influential potential employer or date with a scruffy looking shirt now, would you?

As for ironing itself, don't be intimidated! Make sure your iron has water in it, and set it to the minimum required for the dress shirt (which is usually quite high in the case of cotton shirts). Whilst it is warming, ensure that your ironing board is stable (irons really hurt when they fall on your foot - don't learn that the hard way) and the shirt is still damp - if it has dried unevenly for example, then you need to spray some water over the shirt, and check to see if there are any stains on the shirt still (if there are, don't iron the shirt and try and get the stains out - ironing over stains can often make them much more difficult to get out of the fabric).

Now for the actual ironing - so stretch the shirt out over the ironing board and get those crinkles! Start with the collar of the shirt. Do the inside of the collar before the outside, and make sure those collar stays are removed. Follow the collar of the shirt with the cuffs of the shirt - undo all the buttons and iron the inside then the outside of the cuff. For French cuff shirts, unfold the entire cuff and iron in the same way, although it would be wise to avoid the edges of the double cuff. If you are pressed for time and are wearing a suit jacket, then you can just do these steps rushing out the door. Then proceed with the buttons on the front, being very careful not to iron the actual buttons. Do the other side immediately after, making sure you have all the wrinkles gotten rid of. Then move onto the back of the shirt, before moving onto the sleeves. Now, unless you have a sleeve board, the sleeves can cause the most grief. Make sure you have the sleeves aligned perfectly before ironing both the front and back. And presto, ironed shirt.

Now you know a bit on washing and ironing business shirts. Using these techniques, you will find that your shirts look and feel much better, as well as lasting slightly longer than if you didn't do these steps.

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