dirty shirt collar ring

How to Get Rid of the Ring Around Shirt Collars

Are unsightly collar rings around your shirts driving you crazy? Whether the ring’s down to sweat, excess hair product, or everyday grime, the ugly discolouration is a real nuisance, to say the least. But don’t worry, the stain is relatively easy to remove!

Follow the guide below to say ‘Farewell’ to those dreadful, embarrassing collar rings and ‘Hello’ to crisp, clean collars!


Why Do Shirts Get a Ring Around the Collar?

dirt ring around collar

A ring around the collar of a shirt is just an accumulation of sweat, bodily oils, general dirt, product residue, and dead skin cells. The buildup forms around the neck of a shirt and is typically brown-yellow in colour.

This is quite a common problem with dress shirts. And although the stain is quite an eyesore, you can remove the ring with a little elbow grease and patience!

Read on to find out what removes collar stains.


How to Remove the Ring Around a Shirt Collar

Step 1: The pre-soak

soak clothes with laundry detergent

  1. Fill a bowl with warm water.
  2. Add either a teaspoon of washing-up liquid like Fairy, or a dose of biological liquid laundry detergent to the warm water.
  3. Massage the soapy water into the stained collar.
  4. Allow the collar to rest in the soapy water for up to an hour. This will help break down the greasy bonds.
  5. Move on to Step 2.


Step 2: Treat the stain

clean collar ring swith stain removers

Option 1: An off-the-shelf stain remover

  1. Remove the shirt from the soapy water and rinse it under the cold water tap.
  2. Choose a stain treatment of your choice. For example, Dr. Beckmann’s Stain Devil’s Antiperspirant & Sweat Mark Remover, HG’s Perspiration Stain Remover, or Vanish’s Oxiaction Whitener & Stain Remover.
  3. Apply the treatment to the collar ring as per the guidance on the product’s packaging.
  4. Wait the amount of time stated in the guidance.
  5. Move on to Step 3.


Option 2: The DIY method (white garments only)

  1. Remove the shirt from the soapy water and rinse it under the cold water tap.
  2. Create a bicarbonate of soda paste by mixing hydrogen peroxide with bicarb and washing-up liquid.
  3. Spread the bicarb paste over the whole stain.
  4. Work the paste into the stain using a toothbrush.
  5. Wait about 5 to 10 minutes.
  6. Rinse the area clean.
  7. Move on to Step 3.


Step 3: Launder the shirt

putting dirty laundry in washing machine

When you’re ready, you can launder the shirt.

Check the care label on the shirt to see how it should be washed. Then, select an appropriate cycle and water temperature. Add your detergent to the appliance and start a cycle.


Step 4: Dry the shirt

hang clothes outside to dry under the sun

Remove your shirt from the washing machine when the cleaning cycle ends. Check the collar and re-treat the item if need be. You can dry the shirt if the collar is clean.

Note: You can use laundry services to clean shirts and other garments. Call a pro if you need additional support when washing said items!


How to Prevent Collar Rings on Shirts

clean and folded white polo shirt

Here are a few preventive measures you can put in place:

  • Clean collars thoroughly, regardless of whether or not you see a collar ring! Make a habit of washing/scrubbing the collar areas of your shirts before washing them so that you don’t get a build-up of grime that could lead to dirty rings. Think of it as nipping the problem in the bud—stop the issue before it’s even had a chance to begin.
  • Treat the collar ring as soon as you spot a faint mark! Get to the root of the problem early so it doesn’t have a chance to get worse.
  • Spray a collar treatment onto the collar before sticking the shirt in the laundry basket. The product will get to work on the collar even if you don’t wash the shirt immediately.
  • Clean your shirts after every wear to prevent an accumulation of dirt. If you repeatedly wear the same shirt, it will be smeared with oils, dead skin cells, and odours.
  • Wear different shirts. Rotate your shirts so you never wear the same one two days running. For example, if you work five days a week, have at least six shirts, so you don a new shirt each day and have a spare shirt.
  • Keep your neck clean. Give your neck a quick wash before popping your shirt on so the material doesn’t come into contact with dirt straightaway.
  • Look into getting a collar protector for your shirt. Consider these disposable shirt collar protectors from ASTER. You just fix a length of the absorbent adhesive tape onto your collar, leave it there, and when you’re done wearing the shirt, you can remove the strip! The protector is great at absorbing sweat and can be fixed onto other garments that get sweat-ridden, like hats.
  • Try not to get creams and hair gels onto the shirt’s collar, as this can make it grubby looking. Pop the lotions on, clean around your neck (as above), then put your shirt on.
  • Consider getting a looser collar. A slightly bigger collar would give you more breathing space. And because you’re not so restricted, you may not feel as hot and bothered. Consequently, you won’t feel the need to touch and adjust your collar all the time. This, again, would stop you from rubbing dirt into the area.

How to Get Rid of the Ring Around Shirt Collars


How to Remove Old Collar Ring Stains

soak white clothes in white vinegar

If you’ve got very old collar rings on your shirts, you can try the steps above to clean the eyesores away. However, you may get mixed results if the stain is set in and very old!

In addition to the above, you could soak your white shirts in white vinegar for up to an hour, then launder them to see if this has any effect.

As a last resort, you could ask a dry cleaner for help, but be prepared to buy new shirts if your current ones can’t be saved.

For future reference, take note of the preventive measures listed above so that you can protect your shirts from collar rings.

Consequently, you may not end up with such bad rings. And if you do, you can fix them using the methods above.


How to Remove a Shirt Collar Ring Without Washing It

shirt collar ring stain

To remove a collar ring without washing your entire shirt, you can do a spot treatment on the collar using the steps above.

However, you will need to ensure that any products you use during the spot treatment are cleaned off your collar before you dry and wear your shirt.

In most cases, it’s easier to treat the collar ring on your shirt, and then wash the whole garment because you’re likely to get some product on the main body of the shirt.

You should keep in mind that you don’t have to use a washing machine to wash your shirts. You can clean shirts by hand.


Does Bleach Remove Rings Around Collars?

bleach and shirt collar ring

Bleach is known for taking out troubling stains. So, you’d assume that it would be great at eradicating yellow-brown collar rings.

To some degree, this is true. However, sometimes, when a perspiration-filled collar ring is treated with chlorine bleach, the bleach doesn’t react well with the proteins found in the sweat.

The chemical cleaner may not completely remove the collar ring and may make it worse instead. The blemish may go more yellow in colour.

In addition, if shirts are exposed to too much chlorine bleach, the material’s fibres will weaken. So, the shirt could end up damaged.

oxygen bleach for collar ring stains

If you want to use bleach to treat a collar ring, use oxygen bleach instead. Oxygen bleach is a little milder than chlorine bleach and can be used on coloured clothes and white laundry (but always do a patch test!).

You may also notice that your laundry looks brighter after being exposed to this kind of bleach.

Follow the guidance on the bleach bottle’s packaging to use the product.