Caring For Cotton Pilot Shirts:
The pilot shirt is the cornerstone of your uniform, and the first thing your colleagues will look at when you turn up at work. A high quality, well maintained, perfectly ironed shirt goes a long way to creating a professional impression. What’s more, looking after your shirts means that you will have to replace them less often, saving time and money. Below are some ideas for keeping your shirts looking as fresh as they did the day that you bought them:
Day To Day Use:
- When you get home, take your shirt off instead of wearing it whilst you are cooking or relaxing around the house. Let’s face it, nobody wants to see you prancing about in your uniform anyway.
- There is no shame in donning a napkin in the flight deck. Eating off a tray can be tricky, even in the absence of turbulence.
- In the event that you do end up splashing some of that crew meal on your pilot shirt, douse it with cold water immediately.
- Don’t leave your shirt in a pile on the floor. Quickly folding it before putting it in the washing will keep it dirt free and limit wrinkling or collar distortion.
The last thing you want to do after getting home from a long flight. Here are a few tips to save time and keep shirts looking fresh:
- Wash with only white fabrics – greys or light colours are also not allowed as they will cause discolouration.
- Turn the shirt inside out to protect the outer fabric and buttons.
- Consider removing collar stays – It will mean that they will be less likely to fall out and get lost in the machine. You can take them out of the little pocket in the front of the collar.
- Wash at 40 degrees – Any hotter may damage the fabric.
- If possible, air dry shirts on instead of putting them in a tumble dryer as this limits shrinking and protects the fabric. Shirts should be hung up as soon as they emerge from the machine.
- If you need to use a tumble dryer, put it on the lowest setting in order to avoid heat damage.
Even if you normally avoid it at all costs, every pilot is going to get stuck away from home having to do some ironing. Here are a few tips to make sure your pilot shirts look pristine.
- Cotton shirts should be ironed when damp - spray them down if they have already dried.
- Invest in a good steam iron. This makes a large difference - good heat control and large amounts of steam make ironing a bunch easier.
- Avoid excessive use of starch – this can discolour the fabric.
- Use good ironing techniques. With a long sleeve pilot shirt iron the cuffs first. With a short sleeve shirt, iron the collar first. If you are interested in a full type rating on an iron, watch this video produced by our friends over at T.M. Lewin.
- Hang shirts as soon as they are finished so they are ready for flight. Ensure that they are evenly spaced out in your wardrobe so that they are not pressed against one another. This will prevent wrinkling and distortion.
Packing is a required skill for any self-respecting aviator who plans to take his pilot shirts on the road:
- Fold your shirt to the size of your suitcase (within reason). Doing up a few buttons including the top button helps reduce wrinkling. For more information check out this video.
- Separate shirts from other items such as shoes to stop them getting stained.
- Pack the items that you plan to wear first on top of your suitcase so that they are easily accessible
- Consider putting shirts in the polythene wrappers that they came in. This means that the shirts travel better and don’t get scuffed by other items in the suitcase.
At Airman, we pride ourselves on making some of the finest pilot shirts available in the world. With the above tips, you can keep them looking sharper for longer without a huge time investment.
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