Always wash a brand new shirt to remove the toxic chemicals on the material, so they won’t get onto your skin. Washing also removes creases and softens the fabric. Use a gentle cycle when washing dress shirts, and wash with like or similar colors and fabric. Use a low heat setting when drying in a dryer, and remember not to dry longer than necessary in order to protect the shirt.
When ironing a dress shirt, check the shirt tag and set the iron on the appropriate setting for that specific material, so not to scorch the shirt. Irons that are too cool will not sufficiently remove wrinkles. It’s easier to remove wrinkles if the shirt is slightly damp. Since starch can deteriorate cloth over time, using a light starch is best.
Dress shirts can be dry cleaned; however, white shirts often yellow in time from the cleaning solution.
Avoid wire hangers, since the ends can damage the fabric. It’s best to use a wider hanger; plastics are acceptable.
Slacks and Pants:
Dry cleaning is always an option, but if you choose to launder at home, wash and dry according to the manufacturer’s recommendation, which is typically found on an inside tag.
Be sure to wash similar colors together to avoid getting lighter pants stained by darker pants, should colors bleed and run together. This is smart tip for washing all laundry.
Pressing all slacks and pants that are not wrinkle-free is best to give a fresh, crisp appearance. Again, iron according to directions. Pay attention to line the crease up evenly before ironing to avoid making a second crease.
Denim is easy to care for since it’s a strong material; however it does have its issues. Cotton jeans bleed when washed the first few times, so wash them separately. I recommend using cold water to avoid shrinkage, and don’t dry them in a dryer unless it’s okay that they shrink a bit because they always do. If not, air dry them. Always avoid bleach… it’s denim’s greatest enemy!
My number one pet peeve with sweaters is the “nipple” or “pucker” I often see on top of the shoulder. These protrusions exist because the sweater was hung on a hanger. I don’t care what type hanger you use, sweaters are not meant to be hung up! Hanging also stretches and causes a sweater to lose its shape.
Hand washing sweaters with mild detergent will add years to their life. At the very least, wash on a gentle cycle in the washing machine with cold water. Never twist or wring a sweater out to remove excess water because it will misshape it. Press the water out after rinsing, and lay it on a flat surface on top of a towel to air dry.
It’s best to avoid drying sweaters in a dryer, particularly cotton and wool sweaters. The heat will cause them to shrink. Synthetic yarns can often be dried without fear of shrinkage; however, the dryer often causes sweater material to get those nasty little fuzzy balls, which make the sweater look old. It’s safest to air dry all sweaters.
About those little balls… I remember watching mom shave her sweaters. It definitely works, but I do recall her cutting a few, so be very careful.
Sweaters can also be dry cleaned, which is the best option for some fabrics, especially wool and cashmere.
Fold sweaters so there is no center crease. Definitely not a good look!
T-shirts, Socks and Underwear:
These don’t really require anything special as far as maintenance. Just remember the laundering rules, and to throw out any pieces that get holey or stained. Nothing’s kills the mood like a pair of briefs with a disconnected waistband!
Aaron Marino is the founder, owner, and senior style consultant at Atlanta’s alpha m. Image Consulting. He also runs alpha m. Dot Net, which features accessories for men, and I Am Alpha M. , which is a lifestyle and personal development zone for men. He authored the book, “The Guy’s Guide to Image, Style, and Impeccable Grooming” and appeared on VH1′s Glam God and also Man Made Style. He frequently makes public appearances, giving his expert opinions an advice, and his highly sought after videos appear on YouTube.