Dress shirts sent for professional cleaning are typically water-washed with soap, starched, and then pressed on a 3-part (collar/cuffs, sleeves and body) shirt steam/pressing machine. Shirt buttons can break while cleaning, when pressing, or just when trying to button your dress shirt. While not a catastrophic event, it can be bothersome if you happen to be on a business trip and your important meeting is in an hour.
So, what to do? Here are a few things you can try both before and after your button’s gone missing at the cleaners.
- There’s a possibility the button was missing before you dropped your shirts and blouses off at the dry cleaner. Take a quick look at your garments before leaving them at the cleaners and point this out to the attendant when dropping the off. If you can't remember to do this, place a safety pin where the button belongs and that should get the dry cleaner's attention.
- Top-notch dry cleaning services (including Champion Cleaners here in the Birmingham, Alabama area) will make the time to check for missing buttons before and after the dry cleaning process is completed, so only take your clothing to a reputable location. Though even the best service will occasionally miss one, you should use someone who makes the effort and replaces the missing buttons before returning the garment to you.
- You can request that your cotton and cotton-blend shirts and blouses be dry cleaned rather than laundered. This leaves a softer feel on your shirts and blouses and is especially appropriate for delicate items. Shirt creases are not as sharp. Expect to pay more for this option, as it requires more labor.
- It’s possible the buttons come off because the thread is loose. Try sewing your buttons back on with professional grade thread or even dental floss, which is incredibly strong. But make sure the thread color used is the same as for the rest of the buttons.
As for that button you need replaced for the meeting? Check the inside of the garment to make sure there isn’t a spare, usually on a side seam near the bottom of the shirt. Use your travel sewing kit or ask for one at the front desk. Those little kits usually include one or two buttons that will do in a pinch, and most people will not notice your buttons don’t match. You can also try taking a button from the part of the shirt that gets tucked in and move it to the visible location.
A good dry cleaning service will often replace your shirt buttons free of charge as part of their services. Some dry cleaners will even give you a discount on future dry cleaning services if you have to return for button replacement. Don’t be afraid to ask – reputable dry cleaners want to earn your trust and keep your business.