Proper Laundry of Polo Shirts for Men

by Barbie Carpenter ; Updated September 28, 2017

The versatile polo shirt is probably a staple in your closet, whether you're wearing it to the office on casual Friday, the golf course on a Saturday morning or on a date with that special someone later that evening. Keeping these shirts, as well as similar women's styles, in good condition can extend their life, and proper care begins in the laundry room.

Washing Tips

Polo shirts typically feature a cotton-polyester blend and, occasionally, merino wool or synthetic fibers. Lucky for you, these materials don't require hand washing, so you can trust your washing machine to refresh your polo shirt. However, careful care in the washer is still important.

Prepare the shirt for laundering by first unbuttoning the buttons that run down the chest. The motion of the washing machine may put stress on the buttons, causing them to move and shift, which can tear or stretch buttonholes. Preserve the polo shirt's color by turning it inside out before tossing it in the washer.

Once it's prepped, separate your polo shirt into a load with like colors. Wash lights -- white, beige or light gray -- shirts in warm water and colored shirts in cold water.


  • Check the tag of your polo shirt for manufacturer laundering tips. Cotton shirts will usually call for a warm wash, while polyester shirts can be tossed in cold water. Wash merino wool in cold water on the gentle/delicate cycle.

Polo shirts can tolerate your typical laundry detergent, whether you use powder, liquid or pod styles. Avoid laundry detergents with bleach -- and never use straight bleach on your polos to avoid damage.


  • If your freshly cleaned polo shirts come out feeling stiff, throw a capful of fabric softener into the washing machine next time to keep these cotton blends soft and comfortable.

Drying Details

Toss your polo shirts into the dryer -- but do so carefully. Use a low-heat setting to reduce wrinkling and potential shrinking of cotton shirts.

Alternatively, air-dry the shirts by hanging them or placing them on a drying rack to until they are almost dry. Then, pop them in the dryer on a low-heat setting for about 10 minutes to soften the cotton-blend polo shirt.


  • Always air-dry merino wool. Place the polo shirt on a flat surface to dry to minimize wrinkles.

Finish by tackling any wrinkles by ironing your polo shirt.

Fighting Tough Stains

Coffee, sweat, paint, blood, ink and food stains might be stuck if you don't care for them before you launder your polo shirt. Target the stain before a wash-dry cycle -- otherwise, that stain might set in. Tackle stains with several proven strategies:

  • Invest in a stain remover to pre-treat your polo shirt before washing. Simply massage the stain remover into the affected area, and let it sink into the polo for at least 5 minutes. Then, toss the treated shirt into the washer.
  • Use a homemade stain remover by combining a tablespoon of liquid detergent with water. Spot treat the stain by dabbing this detergent-water solution directly onto the stain. Then, wash as usual. This extra blast of detergent can help to erase those stains, leaving your polo shirt looking as good as new.

About the Author

Barbie Carpenter worked as a technical writer and editor in the defense industry for six years. She also served as a newspaper feature page editor and nationally syndicated columnist for the Hearst Corp. Carpenter holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Florida and a graduate certificate in professional writing from the University of Central Florida.