Use Brass Collar Stays in Your Shirts
It's not good to send your shirts to the cleaner with the stays in. Over time, the collars will not look as good as if they are removed each and every time. We've all had the drycleaner melt them into the collars of the shirts before, and it seems that you always run out of fresh collar stays for your shirts. You might try a set of the brass stays for a better overall looking collar and to change your routine a bit. I liken it to having a better pair of sunglasses. You seem to care more about them, and therefore take greater care with the brass stays. That has certainly been the case for me. I have found that the brass collar stays for your shirts look better in the shirts than the plastic ones. They definitely keep the collar looking proper and the added weight seems to give the collar a more impressive look all day long. I have also noticed that I am far less likely to leave them in my shirts, instead I tend to be more careful in removing them from my shirts at the end of the day. Or if they are still in the shirt from the previous day, I get them out when I am dressing the next day because I am looking for a specific set of collar stays rather than getting more (disposable) plastic ones from a large supply to put in my next shirt.
If you would like a set of brass stays just let me know. They come in a very nice little box and are very inexpensive for a nice set of 6 in various lengths. OR I have plenty of the plastic ones, They're free; just ask and we can send you out a dozen or two anytime you like.
Here is a quick tip on the care of your better dress shirts. Tell your cleaner that you would like your shirts “hand finished”. Also, if you are prone to getting dirty collars, then ask them to “treat the collars” (for stains) every time. These days almost all shirts are done entirely by machine (operators) and the best way to make sure that the shirts look well-pressed every time is to "hand finish" them. Now this is different than asking to have them “hand pressed”. Hand pressed means that the shirts are done entirely by hand rather than just touched up by hand after coming off the line. Most cleaners will charge you twice the price if you want your shirts “hand pressed” but only a negligible amout more (if at all) to “hand finish” your shirts. Any wrinkles that might normally be visible in the shirt are smoothed out while the shirt is still "warm". As far as “treating the collars” goes, don't assume that your cleaner will treat your collars for stains just because you hand him your nice shirts. This is a case of “If you don't ask, you don't get it”. I now have a standing order with my cleaner: “hand finish – treat the collars – no starch”.
If you follow this advice your shirts will come back looking much better, and will last quite a bit longer, as starch isn't great for the life of your shirts. As far as cost, it shouldn't be any extra to have the collars treated every time they do your shirts. They may or may not charge you extra for the hand finishing. If you are a good consistent customer with some decent volume every month, your cleaner should have no problem making sure your shirts receive this extra step when they come off the machines, but be prepared to possibly pay an extra 20 or 30 cents per shirt for the hand finishing. You should see a dramatic difference though in the way the shirts look when they come back. If they tell you they can't do it, or that they don't know what you mean - you may want to look for another cleaner.