How to Brush Wool Suits & Sport Jackets

We brush and maintain our hair for both hygienic and cosmetic reasons. Dandruff and dead hair follicles are unhealthy; messy hair is unsightly.

Like human hair, a wool jacket or suit needs to be properly brushed to ensure a long life and continued usability.

In this article we will talk about the men’s suit brush and the best method of how to brush your suit to ensure a long wearing life.

Mens Suit Jacket Brushing

What is a men’s suit brush?

A men’s suit brush (also called a “clothes brush”) can resemble a handled hair brush or a handle-less shoe brush. The body is often made from wood and sometimes from molded plastic; the brush fibers can either be synthetic or natural animal hair.

As with any accessory, a men’s suit brush can be simply and cheaply made or handcrafted and of heirloom quality.  A quality soft men’s suit brush is a workhorse that you will rely on should you find yourself wearing suits more often than not.

Could you just use a new shoe brush instead? No! More often than not, shoe shine brushes are too coarse; good enough for shoe leather, but too destructive for delicate suit wool.

Where to get a quality men’s suit brush?

The Internet is your best friend. If you are like most men, you want to get the most bang for your buck. Search on Amazon and you will find a suit brush for less than $15.

Too cheap for your tastes? Brooks Brothers carries a brush for $100 made from beechwood and goat hair.

Online auctions and your local antiquarian could be good places to find handcrafted heirloom suit brushes for nickels on the dollar. Perhaps your father or grandfather has a favored suit brush that he is willing to give you?

He may depart with his suit brush for a return of a favor. Look around and you are bound to find a good deal.

Travel Size Clothes Brush

I found this vintage Kent clothing brush on eBay for $20

What is the difference between a cheap suit brush and an expensive suit brush?

The mechanics and the principle are the same. So what then is the difference between a $15 suit brush and a $100 suit brush? Quality and long-term value. A cheap suit brush will do the same job as the expensive brush, but for some men that is not enough.

For some gentlemen, they want to pass on the tradition and their possessions to their sons and grandsons. A molded plastic suit brush says little and is treated like a cheap tool - an heirloom quality suit brush shows a respect for craftsmanship and is as much a display item as it is a functional tool. 

A Man's Guide To Style

Why even bother using a suit brush?

The simple answer is this 15 second habit can extend the life of your jacket by a decade.

Over the course of a wearing, your wool suit or sport jacket is like a coat of armor.   It absorbs dust and food particles keeping your dress shirt clean and your tie spotless.

And even though you don’t see these tiny bits lodged in the fabric, they are there.  If left unchecked, this can build-up and result in fiber decay and weakening.  Over time this will lead to the garment fabric loosing it’s attractiveness and tearing.

A suit brush’s fibers mesh between the wool fibers of your suit. As a result lodged hairs, food particles, or other debris are forcefully removed.

food-particles-clothing

After eating this cake, you can bet part of it is lodged in your jacket. Check your beard as well:)

Should you use a suit brush or a tape lint roller?

A trick question. Use both if you have them, but better to have a brush vs a lint remover only as the latter does not remove dirt and food particles lodged in the fabric.

Start with the suit brush to pick up the wool fibers of your suit and dislodge any stubborn pieces of dirt, cigar ash , hair and other undesirables. Then lightly roll over the suit jacket with the tape roller. Repeat if necessary. No hair or dirt will stand a chance when you use this 1-2 combo.

How to Brush Your Suit

1*) Not many of us have the convenience of a suit form commonly found in tailor shops, so we need to just use our suit hangers. Hang your suit on the hanger and leave your suit unbuttoned.

2) Gently brush in downward motion the lapels first, especially around the neck. Make sure you use gentle strokes that do not go perpendicular to the wool fiber

3) “Pop the collar” of your suit and brush the under collar in the same gentle downward motion. After you are done, return the collar to its normal position.

4) Start at the seams on the shoulders and brush downwards on both sides: back and front.

5) Grab one sleeve and hold it out, brush down the seam starting at the armpit: both left and right side.

6) Start at the shoulder and brush each sleeve with the same downward motion.


* Could you wear the suit jacket and have someone brush the suit jacket for you? Sure. If you have someone available to help you, then wearing a suit jacket as it is brushed is just like having a suit form found in tailor shops. Surprisingly, the feel of the brush against the body is quite relaxing.

How often should you brush your suit?

Unlike dry cleaning a suit you should brush your suit before and after every wear. Making sure you use gentle, slow strokes, you can count on no damage to your suit.

Brushing your suit is a cheap and easy method of preventative maintenance and by picking up this habit you’ll find you visit the dry cleaner less and save money as well.

Closing thoughts on how to brush your suit jacket

It does not matter if you invest in custom made suits or if you have off-the-rack suits tailored to your body, keeping your garments clean will preserve their looks and life.

A simple suit brush should be found in every man’s closet. Brushing your suit should take no more than one minute and wearing a sharp suit free from dirt, dandruff, and food particles will enable you to get a decade of wear out of your wool garment.


Questions? Comments? Feel free to share your thoughts with us.

  • Jason

    Would these same rules of brushing apply to cotton or synthetic suit fabrics as well?

  • http://twitter.com/RMRStyle Real Men Real Style

    Yes they do Jason – we were specific about wool as it is more susceptible to damage from the bacteria present in food decay. Synthetics are more resistant to this type of abuse, but the brushing will help clean them in any case.