How to Wash Black & White Dress Shirts

by Kimbry Parker ; Updated July 18, 2017

Wash white dress shirts separately from colored clothes to keep them bright white.

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Dress shirts are made to look nice, so it’s important not to ruin them during the washing process. White dress shirts and black dress shirts require different water temperatures and products for washing, so don’t just throw all of your shirts together and run one big load. Separate them first according to color -- whites, colored and blacks -- then wash the white and black shirts accordingly.

Set your washing machine to the appropriate temperature setting for the color of the shirts you’re washing. For white dress shirts, use hot water; for black, use cold water. Shirts that are a mix of black and white should be washed in cold water to prevent the black from fading.

Set the machine to the gentle cycle. Add laundry detergent to the water according to the detergent label’s instructions. If the shirt is all white, add chlorine bleach per the manufacturer’s mixing instructions. If it’s black or a black and white mix, avoid using chlorine or color-safe bleach, both of which will dull the color.

Run the shirts through a complete wash cycle. Remove them promptly from the washer and hang them on hangers to dry. Fasten the buttons on the shirt prior to drying to help the shirt maintain its shape.


  • Some dress shirts will hold up in the dryer, but check the care label first to make sure machine-drying is okay. If you do machine-dry the shirts, use a low heat and take them out while they’re still damp and use a warm iron to dry them the rest of the way. Remove collar stays from your dress shirts prior to washing. If your dress shirts are wrinkled after washing and drying, use a steam iron on the slightly damp fabric to smooth them out.

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About the Author

Kimbry Parker has been writing since 1998 and has published content on various websites. Parker has experience writing on a variety of topics such as health, parenting, home improvement and decorating. She is a graduate of Purdue University with a Bachelor of Arts in organizational communication.