Are non-iron business shirts a myth?

The "rules" for washing non-iron business shirts demand close supervision.
The “rules” for washing non-iron business shirts demand close supervision.

Okay, so you’ve noticed that some employees are proud of the uniforms you have provided. They take great care with the laundering of their shirts and always arrive at work looking sharp and crisp … you’ve also noticed that others don’t.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could buy business shirts that didn’t need ironing, then everyone would always look great? Well, the first thing you should consider is the fabric. Shirts are available in 100% cotton, cotton rich blends (which means the fabric is over 50% cotton) and polyester cotton (traditionally 65% polyester/35% cotton). In general, the higher percentage of cotton in the fabric, the more likely you will need to iron it.

Some shirt makers advertise features such as “Crease-resistant-finish” and “wrinkle-free-finish”. These features can confuse people shopping for business shirts. They sometimes think that these finishes mean the shirts don’t need any ironing at all. This isn’t the case.

Cotton shirts can wrinkle easily and are harder to iron than polyester blends.
Cotton shirts can wrinkle easily and are harder to iron than polyester blends.

These shirts undergo one or more chemical processes to achieve the finish. The actual benefit is that the shirt resists creasing and wrinkles during wear. We sell a number of shirts made by Gloweave, a famous Australian shirt maker, with fabric treatments like “wrinkle free finish” and “silk-protein-finish”. I have some of these shirts in my own wardrobe and I personally recommend them. They are comfortable to wear and are easy to maintain, only requiring a light iron.

Some shirt makers do market “non-iron” business shirts but they come with a long list of rules to follow when washing them. Firstly, you have to choose a gentle cycle and wash the shirt separately or with other delicates. You then have to remove the shirt immediately after the washing cycle finishes. Finally you have to air dry the shirt on a coat hanger. Most business shirts would only require minimal ironing with this kind of attention.

In reality, the only business shirts that don’t require any ironing at all are made from 100% polyester fabric. Polyester shirts are usually only found in ranges suitable for hospitality (hotels, restaurants & cafes) and health care (hospitals, medical centres & pharmacies).

Most business shirts require some ironing.
Most business shirts require some ironing.

Modern polyester fabrics have come a long way in the last decade. Heading the list are Ezylin shirts by City Collection. Ezylin is a unique fabric that has the look of linen with outstanding easy care properties. Ezylin has a special finish that quickly moves moisture away from your skin to the fabric surface, keeping you cool, dry and comfortable. Ezylin is breathable, lightweight, wrinkle free and quick drying making it a great shirt for uniforms.

So, in summary, a true “non iron” cotton or cotton rich business shirt probably doesn’t exist. Shirts made from these fabrics will require some ironing to present a tidy corporate image. Polyester shirts get close but are more suited to selected industries like hospitality and health care.