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How to Get White Collars White Again

Updated April 17, 2017

Some stains on clothing are especially difficult to clean. Among them are stains on shirt collars -- often called "ring around the collar." Dirt, perspiration and oil from the hair and skin combine to leave unsightly stains that are difficult to remove. The problem is more pronounced on white collars, where stains are not hidden by the colour of the fabric. Luckily, there is a way to get stains out of white collars using items you probably have on hand.

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  1. Remove the collar stays (if they're removable) from the shirt. Collar stays are metal or plastic strips that are rounded at one end and pointed at the other. They are inserted into the shirt collar to stabilise the points of the collar so that it lies flat against the collarbone. Some collar stays are removable; others are sewn in.

  2. Apply shampoo or dishwashing detergent directly to the collar stain and scrub it with a clean toothbrush. Collar stains are oil-based, so degreasing products such as shampoo or dishwashing detergent are effective at removing the stain. For best results, use a shampoo for oily hair or a dishwashing detergent designed to cut grease.

  3. Let the shampoo or detergent sit on the stain for 15 to 30 minutes. Check to see if the stain has been removed, and repeat the process if necessary. When the stain is gone, launder the shirt as usual.

  4. Tip

    Lanolin hand cleaners, the kind used by auto mechanics to cut dirt and grease, can also be used to remove collar stains. There are also commercial stain-removal products available for purchase where you buy your washing powder.


    Dishwashing detergent should only be used on white shirts. It can bleach coloured fabrics or make them "bleed." Avoid using dark-coloured shampoos or the colours in the shampoo may stain the shirt. Remove the stain completely before drying the shirt. Drying the garment before the stain is removed will set the stain, making it more difficult -- if not impossible -- to remove. Always read and follow the instructions on the care label inside your garment before applying stain-removal products.

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Things You'll Need

  • Toothbrush
  • Shampoo or dishwashing detergent

About the Author

Lynda Wilson has been sharing her knowledge with web readers for over 10 years. She currently owns and operates online travel websites covering travel to Mexico. Her past experience includes operating a Spanish school in Mexico, as well as directing graduate admissions at a major U.S. university. Lynda holds a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Minnesota.

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