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3 Tricks to Clean (and Avoid) Dirty, Cruddy, and Grimy Shirt Collars

Gentlemen, we're in the thick of August. We're heading full speed toward Labor Day, the fall, and the holidays, which basically means it's already 2016. Around this time of year, many of us tire of the heat, the humidity, the sweat, and the soiled shirt collars that come with the aforementioned. That ring of cruddy buildup can put a gross-ass damper on your workday and wardrobe, but we're happy to report that your shirts can be rescued, thanks to the wisdom of cleaning phenomenon Jolie Kerr.


Before we get into the prevention, we've got to understand the creation of these rings. "It's more or less intuitive, but it's caused mostly by sweat," Kerr explained over the phone. "If you live in a city, the grime will lead to rings around the collar. Dead skin and the natural oils from your body rub onto the collar of your shirt that leads to a buildup of yellow and brown dingy muck. City grime is a part of that, too." She also cautioned that if you have long hair, any product you put in it will exacerbate the issue. Hearing her actually describe what was up was enough to make me set my shirt collar on fire, which seemed drastic, so we then talked prevention.

Pre-emptive Attack Believe it or not, your best line of defense starts before you even put a shirt on. "For men that notice a significant problem," Kerr tells us, "they need to make sure they're really scrubbing the back of their neck." And while that may seem obvious, think of the last time you truly paid attention to the back of your neck in the shower. It was probably longer ago than you realize. Making sure your neck is clean and letting any hair product dry before you put your shirt on will help keep those grime rings away.

Early-Diagnosis Plan If you catch a ring forming early—"a fresh ring," as Kerr calls it—then restoring your shirt to brilliance will be easier. "If you take off your shirt and see a fresh ring, pre-treat the stain with virtually any laundry pre-treatment product. Any kind of spray or stick will be fine. Hit your collar as soon as you can, then throw it in the hamper or wherever it goes." Though many stain removers will work, Kerr recommends Zout, an enzymatic product that's particularly good on protein stains.

Long-Standing Stain Removal More often than not, you're going to happen upon these stains once they've really set in. They may have even been laundered a few times before you notice them, but it's all good. In that situation, Kerr counsels us to amp things up a little. "Take the shirts, soak them in water with some kind of stain treatment like powdered OxiClean. Soak them for a few hours and launder them as usual; they should come out looking significantly better. You'll be shocked!" If you can find it, OxiClean White Revive works supposed miracles (it restored Kerr's pillowcases to looking brand new).

So instead of setting your shirts ablaze in a farewell-to-summer bonfire, just arm yourself with the appropriate products and a little bit of effort. Your shirts will thank you.


By John Jannuzzi | GQ Magazine

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Men's Magazine: 3 Tricks to Clean (and Avoid) Dirty, Cruddy, and Grimy Shirt Collars
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