Dry cleaning is the best method for getting stains out of a men's dress suit.
Often we take our suits to the dry cleaners too often.
This menswear guide explains how to tell when it's time to take a suit in for dry-cleaning.
A man's dress suit is one of the most expensive additions to most men's wardrobes.
So knowing how to care for and clean a dress suit is something that all men should be knowledgeable about.
Whether you wear an off-the-rack suit or are looking into a bespoke or custom-tailored suit, sooner or later it will need dry cleaning.
How Does Dry Cleaning Work?
Despite what the name suggests, dry cleaning uses a liquid solvent by the name of Perchloroethylene (or Perc) to remove dirt and oils from fabrics.
The dry cleaning process was discovered by accident in 1825 by Jean-Baptiste Jolly.
One evening, Jolly accidentally spilled a lamp of turpentine onto a tablecloth. Once the turpentine dried, the cloth in that spot was cleaner. Thus the birth of dry cleaning.
How To Tell If Your Suit Needs Dry Cleaning
There is not an exact science that tells you when it's time to take your suit coat and trousers to the dry cleaner. However, most of us visit the dry cleaners too often.
A good rule of thumb is to dry clean your menswear when brushing, airing out ,and spot cleaning aren't removing the odors, dirt or stains any more.
If you rarely wear a suit, this may be as little as once a year. Of course, if you live in your dress suit, you may dry clean more frequently.
Dry clean your dress suit as little as possible. Perc strips the wool fibers of their natural oils. This causes the fibers to become brittle and your dress suit to become worn-though well before its time.
How To Choose A Dry Cleaner For Your Dress Suit
When it comes time to clean your suit, do a bit of homework. Search Google for any reviews of dry cleaners near you.
There is no shortage of dry cleaners, but the ones who have been in business for a while will have both a good following and a good reputation.
Take the time to call a few local dry cleaners. If they're willing to take the time to answer your questions, that may be a sign that you can trust them with your custom suit.
Don't forget to find out if they do their dry cleaning in-house, or send it out to a larger facility. This may not seem like a big deal but it will make a world of difference the first time an item gets misplaced.
Pay attention to how your clothes are handled at intake. A good clerk will mark any spots or problem areas which may need pre-treating. Also, be sure to point out any loose buttons. Get a detailed receipt of what you're dropping off for your records as well. This is a great guide to dry cleaning.
How To Care For Your Suit Between Dry Cleaning Visits
To keep a suit looking its best between trips to the dry cleaners, here's a few tips that can help.
- Rotate your suits. Wearing the same suit over and over will cause it to show wear after a while.
- Use a steam cleaner to remove wrinkles before wearing. Set the steam to the lowest heat setting. This way you always appear freshly pressed without the added costs.
- Brush off any dirt or food particles that may be clinging to the suit after you wear it. Start by going against the grain of the cloth and use short, quick strokes. Finish with a second pass that goes with the nap.
- Allow your suit to hang for a day or two on a good wood hanger after wearing it. This allows the material to recover and drape out most wrinkles between uses. Make sure all of the pockets are empty to avoid creating creases, or odd shapes in your suit.
- Cover it up. Use a cloth cover which allows air to still circulate through the suit even when its being stored.
Looking for more clothing care tips? Check out these articles I wrote here:
How To Steam And Press A Suit Jacket