How to Remove Ring Around the Collar

Ring around the collar is a common issue that many people face with their shirts and blouses. It refers to the yellowish or greyish stains that form around the collar and neckline over time. These stains are caused by a buildup of sweat, body oils, and dead skin cells that deposit in these areas when wearing the garment. If left untreated, these stains can become severe and difficult to remove. Thankfully, ring around the collar can be treated and removed with some simple cleaning methods and techniques.

In this comprehensive guide, we will walk through the causes of ring around the collar, explain why it happens, and provide various tips and step-by-step instructions for how to get rid of these pesky stains for good. With the right techniques and laundry products, you can banish ring around the collar from your wardrobe and restore the fresh, clean look to your shirts and blouses.

Remove Ring Around the Collar

We will cover natural cleaning solutions, pretreatments, laundry techniques, tools and brushes that can help scrub away built-up grime, as well as preventing ring around the collar from returning. Whether your shirts are made of cotton, linen, polyester or other fabrics, the methods outlined here will help you remove collar stains and have your shirts looking crisp and bright again. Let’s get started!

Causes and Formation of Ring Around the Collar

Before diving into removal techniques, it’s helpful to understand exactly what causes ring around the collar in the first place.

When you wear shirts and tops, your neck and collar area are in direct contact with your body. Throughout the day, the following substances can get deposited onto the fabric around the collar:

  • Sweat and body oils
  • Skin moisturizers and lotions
  • Hair products like gel, pomade, and hairspray
  • Makeup and sunscreen
  • Dirt, pollution, and environmental grime

Over time, these oils, lotions, and grime build up in the fabric, especially around the seams, folds, and edges along the collar. The oily dirt then mixes with:

  • Laundry detergent residues that get trapped in the fibers after washing
  • Mineral deposits from hard water
  • Pollution particles in the air that adhere to the fabric

Heat from ironing and drying can also cause the oil and detergent mixture to oxidize and set into yellowish or greyish stains. The starch content in the fabric, humidity in the air, and minerals in your water supply also influence how severely these stains develop.

Being aware what contributes to the stains will help you take steps to both remove them and prevent their return. Next, let’s look at how to get rid of existing ring around the collar stains using various cleaning methods.

How to Remove Existing Ring Around the Collar Stains

If those unsightly collar stains have already set into your shirts, don’t worry – they can still be removed with some tried and true cleaning methods.

Pre-treat with Stain Remover

The first step is applying a laundry pre-treatment stain remover spray or gel directly onto stained areas. Let it soak in for 5-10 minutes before laundering.

Look for pre-treaters specially formulated for oil and grease stains, like OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover Spray, Carbona 2-In-1 Oxy Powered Pre-Wash, or [Zout Laundry Stain Remover]( remover-Grease-22/dp/B00CBDUB4S).

Wash with Laundry Booster

Add an oxygenated laundry detergent booster like OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover or Sard Wonder Stick into the wash cycle along with your regular laundry detergent. This can help lift out those set-in stains.

Use Chlorine Bleach

For white or colorfast shirts, chlorine bleach can be extremely effective at removing embedded collar stains. Check the garment’s care label first to be sure chlorine bleach is safe to use. Pour 1⁄2 cup into the wash cycle.

Be sure to dilute chlorine bleach properly according to the instructions. Undiluted bleach can damage fabrics.

Spot Clean with Baking Soda

Make a paste of 3 parts baking soda and 1 part water. Gently scrub it onto the stains using a soft toothbrush or cleaning brush. Let sit for 30 minutes before washing as usual.

The baking soda will break down and lift the oils. It works as a natural whitening agent.

Clean with Vinegar

Either white vinegar or apple cider vinegar work well to cut through oil-based stains. Dab it directly onto the stains using a clean cloth, let sit for 15 minutes, then laundering as normal.

Vinegar’s acetic acid works as a natural cleaning agent and degreaser. Just be sure to test it first, as vinegar can damage some delicate fabrics.

Use Laundry Booster Bars

Products like Fels Naptha Laundry Bar or The Laundress New York Wool & Cashmere Bar are designed to pre-treat tough stains like ring around the collar.

Rub the bar directly on stained areas before washing. The combination of soap and active ingredients help break down oils and dislodge dirt.

Try Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide’s oxidizing properties can help lift discoloration and brighten whites again. Apply it directly to the stains using a cotton pad or sponge. Let bubble for 10-15 minutes, then rinse and wash.

Be sure to test hydrogen peroxide on a hidden part of the fabric first, as high concentrations can potentially bleach or discolor some fabrics.

Steam Clean Collars

Use a handheld garment steamer like the PurSteam Garment Steamer to blast hot steam onto stained areas before washing.

The combination of concentrated heat and moisture can help loosen up and release embedded stains from the fabric fibers.

Hang in Sunlight

For white cotton or linen shirts, hang them in direct sunlight before washing. The sun’s UV rays have natural bleaching and whitening powers to help remove discoloration and stains.

Repeat cleanings may be needed for severe, set-in stains. But with consistent treatment using these cleaning methods, you will eventually get rid of ring around the collar for good.

Steps to Prevent Ring Around the Collar

Once you’ve successfully tackled those collar stains, you’ll want to take measures to prevent ring around the collar from returning. Here are proactive laundry habits and steps you can take:

Wear an Undershirt

Wearing a t-shirt or tank top underneath dresses, blouses and shirts will absorb sweat and oils before they reach the outer garment. Be sure to change undershirts frequently as oils accumulate over the day.

Wash Shirts After Each Wear

Laundering shirts and blouses after one wear minimizes the chance for soils to become set into fibers. The more wears between washes, the more embedded the grime becomes.

Pre-Treat Collars Before Washing

Make it a habit to apply a stain remover stick or spray onto shirt collars and necklines before tossing into the laundry basket. This prevents stains from setting in.

Use Laundry Products for Oily Stains

Look for detergents, pretreatments, and booster formulated to cut through oily, greasy stains. These are more effective than regular laundry detergent.

Recommend products:

  • Persil ProClean Power-Caps Laundry Detergent
  • Hex Performance Laundry Detergent
  • Biokleen Bac-Out Stain+Odor Remover

Wash in Hot Water

Use the hottest water setting safe for the fabric. Hot water does a better job removing bodily oils and greases compared to cold water. Check clothing labels for temperature guidelines.

Add Borax

Borax boosts the cleaning power of laundry detergent to remove stains. Add 1⁄2 cup borax along with detergent into the washing machine.

Use an Enzymatic Cleaner

Enzyme-based detergents like Persil and Hex contain proteins that digest organic stains. They can help keep collars cleaner.

Clean the Washer

Run empty hot water cycles monthly using either white vinegar or bleach to clean out any residue buildup within your washing machine. This prevents dirt redepositing on clothes.

Avoid Fabric Softener

Fabric softeners and dryer sheets can leave an oily coating on clothes that actually contributes to collar stains recurring. Skip these additives.

Wash Delicates Separately

The soils that lead to ring around the collar build up over time. Washing delicate blouses separately from everyday shirts can help keep them cleaner.

Line or Flat Dry

Avoid harsh machine drying. Either hang shirts to air dry or lay flat to dry to prevent excessive heat damage that can set stains.


Ring around the collar can be a nuisance, but armed with the right techniques, you can conquer those unsightly stains for good. Consistent laundering methods like pre-treating, boosting with stain fighting detergents, and washing in hot water can all help remove embedded collar grime.

For prevention, habits like washing shirts after each wear, using enzyme-based detergents, and skipping fabric softener will keep collars cleaner in the long run. And remember to launder delicates and everyday shirts separately.

While it may take some trial and error to find the right combination of products and practices for your particular shirts, have patience and stick with these methods. With regular collar maintenance and stain fighting laundry habits, you’ll be able to reverse ring around the collar and stop it from returning.

Keep your dress shirts, blouses and tee shirts looking fresh and bright for longer by bidding farewell to ring around the collar!

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As the founder of Clean It Spotless, I am Melissa Walker, a leading expert in removing tough stains from fabrics, carpets, and upholstery. With over 10 years of experience in the cleaning industry, I have developed my own natural, non-toxic stain-fighting formulas that lift stains while preserving the integrity of the underlying material. My stain removal tutorials are widely read online, and I have appeared on local TV segments demonstrating my techniques. I also present popular stain removal workshops at community centers and schools.

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