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Performance Dress Shirt Washing Instructions

September 14, 2023

Traditionally, dress shirts are made out of woven cloth such as cotton, silk, linen, or wool. Over the past couple of decades, however, more and more manufacturers have begun to use man-made fibers such as polyester and nylon.

What are Performance Dress Shirts?

how to wash performance dress shirtsPerformance dress shirts are essentially dress shirts made of synthetic fibers such as polyester or nylon (blends are also common). Compared to cotton and wool, these types of fabric are much more durable and are cheaper to produce.

Advantages of Performance Dress Shirts

These types of dress shirts are moisture-wicking, meaning that the fabric can pull moisture away from the skin, keeping the wearer dry.

Another great thing about performance dress shirts is that you won’t have to worry about wrinkles. They’re also stretchy and allow for a wide range of movement.

Popular Performance Dress Shirt Brands

Here are some of the most common brands that offer performance dress shirts:

Under Armour

Under Armour is a popular clothing brand that offers sportswear, footwear, outdoor gear, undergarments, and accessories.

Headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, the company operates hundreds of stores around the world with head offices in London, Seoul, Toronto, Hong Kong, Paris, Jakarta, and a few other countries.


Express sells a variety of fashion apparel for both men and women, including dress shirts, jeans, jumpsuits, jackets, underwear, loungewear, and more.

As of 2024, they operate more than 600 locations in the United States and Puerto Rico.

Calvin Klein

button down shirt washing instructionsCalvin Klein is a fashion house that specializes in leather and accessories. Over the past few decades, they’ve also begun to sell apparel including performance dress shirts. As of 2024, they operate more than 200 retail stores across the world.


Bonobos is an e-commerce clothing retailer that sells a variety of men’s clothing including suits, denim, swimwear, shorts, and formal shirts. As of 2024, there are 48 locations in the United States.

Kenneth Cole

Kenneth Cole is a fashion house that sells apparel, watches, fragrances, handbags, and other accessories. Established in 1982, the company started as a forty-foot trailer in New York City. Three years later, they opened their first retail shop in Manhattan. Since then, they have expanded their operations to Canada, Hong Kong, U.K., Japan, Australia, and several other countries.

How to Wash Dress Shirts Made of Synthetic Fabrics

Most dress shirts can be machine-washed or hand-washed, depending on your preference.

Machine Washing Dress Shirts

how to wash performance dress shirts in the washerUndo all of the buttons, including the ones on the cuff before washing.

If it comes with a removable collar, take it off and put it aside (otherwise the collar stays). Next, turn the dress shirt inside out and place it in the machine. If you want, you can put the shirt in a mesh laundry bag to add another layer of protection.

You can wash the performance dress shirts with other clothes as long as they’re of similar colors.

Pro-tip: You might want to pre-treat the shirt if there are noticeable stains (more on this later).

Add one scoop of ACTIVE Detergent powder to the machine and start a delicate cycle with cold water. Avoid using hot water as it will cause the fabrics to shrink over time.

Take the dress shirts out of the machine as soon as the cycle is finished and hang them up on a clothesline to air dry.

Avoid using the clothes dryer if you can, especially if you’re washing cotton dress shirts.

How to Hand Wash Button Up Shirts

Hand washing is great in that it’s more gentle on the fabric, meaning your favorite dress shirts will last longer.

how to hand wash dress shirtsStart by filling a sink or basin with cool water. Avoid using hot water as it can cause the fabric to shrink – this is especially true for cotton shirts.

Measure and add a small amount of ACTIVE Detergent to create a soapy bath – you may have to agitate the liquid with your hands to dissolve the powder.

Unbutton the shirts and put them in the mixture. Soak them for at least 15 minutes.

Rub the fabric gently against itself to remove debris, before rinsing the shirts with water. Continue rinsing until the water runs clear and there’s no soap residue left on the fabric.

Using your hands, gently press out the excess water, hang the shirt on a clothesline, and wait for it to dry.

Removing Stains From Dress Shirts

One of the easiest ways to remove spots is to pre-treat them with soapy water.

First things first, you’ll want to create the detergent solution. Fill a small bowl with warm water and mix in a small amount of ACTIVE Detergent powder.

Once the powder has dissolved, apply it onto the stain, using a soft bristle brush or sponge. Let it sit for at least 10 to 30 minutes. That will give the detergent time to penetrate the fibers.

Alternatively, you can use a commercially bought stain remover (e.g. stain remover pen). Simply apply it to the stain before washing the shirt as normal.

Deodorizing Performance Dress Shirts

how to deodorize dress shirtsDress shirts can get smelly, especially if you’ve been moving around throughout the day.

To get rid of the smell, soak the shirt in a mixture of water and vinegar (one cup of vinegar to a tub of water works well).

Alternatively, you can pour vinegar directly into the washing machine during the rinse cycle – it will neutralize the smell and soften the fabric as a bonus.

Baking soda is another option – you can either apply it to the shirt directly or add it to the washer.

Knowing How to Wash Dress Shirts Properly

Dress shirts, whether they’re made of cotton or synthetic fabric, can be machine-washed or hand-washed. If anything, you just need to follow the proper steps – and that means using the right type of detergent.

ACTIVE Detergent is a great choice as it features an enzyme formula that will effectively break down dirt and oils. You can use it to wash button-up shirts, as well as other activewear too.

How to Wash a Dress Shirt – FAQs

What’s the best way to wash a cotton dress shirt?

Most cotton shirts will shrink if exposed to heat. Given that, you always want to use cold water on a gentle or delicate setting. Remember, air-drying dress shirts is the way to go.

When in doubt, follow the shirt care instructions tag.

What kind of detergent should you clean dress shirts with?

Ideally, you want to use a high-quality detergent, such as the one by ACTIVE. Not only is made of natural ingredients but it also contains enzymes that will physically break down dirt, oils, and residue that are trapped within the fibers.

Do I have to bring my dress shirts for dry cleaning?

No, most dress shirts can be washed at home – either by hand or with the washing machine.

If you’re dealing with an oil-based stain, however, you may want to dry clean dress shirts professionally.

Should you use cold or warm water for white dress shirts?

Cold water is best when it comes to dress shirts. It’s best not to expose the fabric to heat as it can cause it to wear out prematurely.

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Picture of Sophia Grant

Sophia Grant

Sophia Grant brings her extensive knowledge of laundry and clothing care to the masses with her intensive cleaning guides. Her thorough understanding of fabrics, detergents, and washing techniques helps readers master the art of maintaining their wardrobe. Sophia's advice ensures that anyone can achieve professional-level results at home, keeping their garments looking pristine and lasting longer.

Comment (1)

  • Marianne Reply

    Greying of white mezzen and main white shirt . How do I whiten it up?

    February 15, 2020 at 11:20 am

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