Like that little black dress nestled in the closets of many women, a basic white dress shirt is a staple of most men's wardrobes. Unfortunately, maintaining the original color of these dress shirts can be more challenging than keeping a little black dress, well, black. Ring-around-the-collar and armpit stains can turn white dress shirts yellow and dingy -- not to mention the effects of a haphazardly overturned wine glass -- but carefully used chlorine bleach or oxygen bleach can whiten men's dress shirts with minimal or no damage.
Spray stains with a stain-removal spray or wet the stained fabric with water and use your fingers to rub a drop of liquid detergent into the stain.
Allow 15 minutes or the time directed on the bottle for the stain remover to work.
Add the dress shirt to the washing machine with other white clothes. Set the water temperature to warm and the cycle to delicate if the shirt is lightly soiled. Set the water temperature to hot and the cycle to regular if the shirt is heavily soiled. Check the shirt's care label to be sure that you are not damaging the shirt.
Add laundry detergent as recommended by the detergent's manufacturer.
Add chlorine bleach or oxygen bleach to the bleach dispenser in front-loading or high-efficiency machines. Follow the directions on the product label for the correct amount.
Add chlorine bleach or oxygen bleach to the wash water as the machine fills if you're using a top-loading machine. If you're using chlorine bleach, dilute it in a measuring cup with an equal amount of water and add it to the wash cycle five minutes after the cycle starts.
Remove the shirt from the washing machine when the cycle ends and hang it to dry or dry it in the dryer according to the instructions on the shirt's care label.
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- Never pour chlorine bleach directly on clothing. Always dilute it before use and don't use it in every wash.
S.R. Becker is a certified yoga teacher based in Queens, N.Y. She has a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and has worked as a writer and editor for more than 15 years. Becker often writes for "Yoga in Astoria," a newsletter about studios throughout New York City.
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