The other day, my editor came by my desk, waving a shirt around. “Write about how to get rid of this!” he exclaimed, pointing to a particularly nasty ring inside the collar of an otherwise good-looking shirt.
Since almost everyone has experienced this problem, it’s important to tell you right off that the ring doesn’t mean you’re not clean. The stain results from a combination of sweat, sebum, and hair product build-up. Although you might notice it anytime, you’re especially likely to see it at the end of a sweaty summer.
Your parents might remember a commercial for a detergent called Wisk, which claimed it could beat ring around the collar. Wisk was discontinued back in 2017, but there are still plenty of ways to deal with collar rings, and we've tested some excellent detergents for you.
The thing is, people have lots of different methods for dealing with collar stains, and their suggestions won’t work equally well on every shirt. Try a product from the list below, but know before you go in that you may have to use a combination of methods to get the shirt clean.
Picking the right detergent or cleaning agent
Choosing the right product for your stain involves a bit of trial and error. As far as we can tell, there's no perfect solution, and a combination might work as well. We've had luck with dish detergent, laundry detergent, shampoo, and specialized products like laundry bar soap and good old oxygen bleach.
Some chemical agents, but particularly oxygen bleach, can drain color from your clothes, so pay close attention to the soak times recommended on the package. White shirts will fare better because you can soak them longer without fear of losing color.
Step-by-Step: Getting rid of yellow collars
• A shirt with a ring around the collar
• A toothbrush or laundry brush
• Your choice of cleaning agent (see below)
- Cover the stain with chosen cleaning agent.
- Scrub it in with a brush.
- Let the shirt sit so the product can soak in.
- Inspect the collar.
- Repeat with another product, if necessary.
- Throw the shirt in the washer with the usual detergent.
- Run the shirt in the dryer, when you're sure the stain is gone.
How to prevent collar ring in the future
Some shirts may just not get clean, no matter what you try. For these, you're going to want to take some preventative steps. Here are some things we've seen people recommend.
• Wipe your neck with a damp washcloth after using hair products.
• Use your regular antiperspirant on your neck.
• Apply a disposable collar protector.
Good luck rescuing your shirt! Remember, if one treatment doesn’t work, another one might do the trick. And try not to take the ring personally. Nobody knows it’s there but you.