Dress Shirt Defects - Three Common Problems
Here are three common problems we find with laundered dress shirts today. As technology and manufacturing methods evolve, different problems emerge.
Dress shirts can pucker on cuffs and collars with what looks like excess fabric. This occurs after a shirt is laundered because of shrinkage of the interfacing in the collar and cuffs. If the manufacturer uses an interfacing material that is not compatible with the shirt fabric, the shrinkage occurs and the appearance of extra fabric is the result. This extra fabric causes undesirable folds in the fabric. The photo above show examples of interfacing defects.
Sometimes a gray or shiny look on the collar and cuffs occurs when an adhesive is used that is not designed for commercial laundries, similar to the problem mentioned below about discoloration of armhole and collar seams. The adhesive softens when the shirt is pressed and penetrates the outer fabric of the shirt around the cuffs and collar resulting in a discoloration stain.
Discoloration of Armhole and Collar Seams
Many manufacturers use adhesives in armhole seams and collars on men's dress shirts, especially on wrinkle-free dress shirts. These adhesives are used to prevent puckering around the armhole seam and the edges of collars. The two photos above show examples of collar discoloration.
When the dress shirt is pressed, the heat softens the adhesive causing local stains. I've seen this happen on white shirts and blue shirts but it can happen on any color dress shirt. On white shirts, the stains look somewhat yellow, while the stain on blue shirts appears darker blue. The staining on the collar is typically around the collar tip. This problem almost always occurs on "wrinkle-free" or "no iron" dress shirts.
What often looks like discoloration from bleach in a dress shirt is often the fact that colored yarns are missing, leaving just the white yarns. This happens when the dyes in colored striped shirts are made with fiber-reactive dyes or sulfur dyes. These types of dyes do not withstand repeated laundering, especially when the acid levels in the wash formula are outside of the ending pH of 6.5 to 7.0. Good commercial laundries, including Champion Cleaners in Birmingham, Alabama, check the acidity of its wash formula regularly.
Whose Fault Is It Anyway?
If you have any of these problems with a cotton or cotton blend dress shirt and the care label does not exclude pressing with heat, the shirt is not labeled correctly and it is the manufacturer's responsibility. You should return this shirt to the retailer where you purchased it.
If the shirt is labeled correctly and the commercial laundry or dry cleaner does not follow the directions, it is the commercial laundry's or dry cleaner's responsibility.
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