Are non-iron business shirts a myth?

The "rules" for washing non-iron business shirts demand close supervision.
Closely following the washing instructions can reduce the amount of ironing required.

Okay, so you’ve noticed that some of your staff proudly wear the uniforms you’ve provided … they take great care with their shirts and always arrive at work looking crisp and sharp … 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. Business shirts are made from various fabrics including 100% cotton, cotton rich blends and polyester cotton blends. In general, the higher percentage of cotton in the fabric, the more likely you will need to iron it. Cotton doesn’t hold colour as well as polyester either so you expect faster fading with repeated washing.

Some shirt makers advertise features such as “crease-resistant finish” and “wrinkle-free finish”. These shirts undergo one or more chemical processes to achieve the finish but buyers often misunderstand the benefit. They usually think that the “wrinkle-free finish” means such shirts don’t require ironing. This isn’t the case. The actual benefit provided by the chemical treatment is that the shirts resist creasing and wrinkles whilst being worn. In other words, the “promise” is that you’ll look good all day.

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.

Some shirt makers do market “non-iron” business shirts but they come with a tedious list of instructions to follow when machine 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 dedication and attention.

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

In reality, the only business shirts that don’t require ironing are made from 100% polyester fabric. 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 and softness of linen with the outstanding easy care properties of polyester. 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 so it’s a great choice for uniforms.

So, in summary, a true “non iron” cotton or cotton rich business shirt probably doesn’t exist. The best choice for easy care, low maintenance uniforms are shirts made from polyester/cotton or 100% polyester.

(Written by Andrew Robinson)