Suits are really expensive commodities for investments, and after you purchase them, there’s the painful issue of maintenance which is not only difficult to perform but very costly as well.
And honestly, there’s no beneficial option than to fork out the money and ensure maintenance otherwise you risk damaging the expensive clothing or depreciating its useful life — suits are no ordinary fabric you can do away with ditching red warnings.
Among the many issues of maintenance is how often to dry clean suits, and the answer is as simple as this:
Dry clean your suits only as often as it takes the newly retrieved suit to loose its freshness. You’ll know this when the musty smell remains persistent after airing out and the brushes aren’t getting the dust or dirt off anymore.
When you begin to observe these signs, make sure to take the suit to the dry cleaners with immediate effect, otherwise, you risk knocking people out with a simple shoulder shrug or becoming the victim of savage ostracism.
The Best Advice on How Often to Clean Suits
There are literally different opinions floating around the internet concerning how often one should dry clean their suit, some say dry cleaning should be done only once per season while others claim one or two times in a calendar year would suffice.
The truth is however, that only YOU the suit owner know when the right time to take your suits to the dry cleaners is.
And that’s because the knowledge of how often you wear your suits, how many suits you own and how well you rotate between them, and more importantly, the kind of job you work and the nature of the environment you’re constantly exposed to lies solely with you and no one else.
That’s why we advise that you stick religiously with the acid test of smell and brush in order to determine when your next visit to the dry cleaners is due.
And to make this advice even more practical and useful, we’ll provide you with a handful of empirical tips and advice (as we progress further into this article) in order to help extend your trips to the dry cleaners by a mileage.
The smell and brush test
The smell and brush test is quite very easy. You’re simply relying on your olfaction and sense of sight to correctly identify a suit that needs washing. And by God, this method alongside the empirical tips works like magic.
You’ll find that you don’t need to clean your barely worn suit after every two weeks because ‘expert’ X says so, nor do you have to clean your dirty and hard worn suit after every six months because ‘expert’ Y said so.
You’re now essentially that fine line that defines elegance and thrifty. No dirty looks, No stinky moves, and more importantly, no spending money carelessly and wastefully. So, ladies and gentlemen, the acid test.
- If after airing your suits outside, the fabric returns smelling way worse than it started off earlier, it’s really time for a wash up.
- If your room smells like the gross stinky retch up of a malaria patient after retrieving your suit from the professional wardrobe, honestly, it’s way past time for a wash up.
- If the entire wardrobe starts resonating with the odor of your suit, please go for a two hours wash cycle if your dry cleaner offers such service.
- If after putting on the suit, every little move you make burns up your nostrils just like fire burns the wick of a candle, then it’s time to invest in a new suit because the old one is really worthless. (we wish we weren’t kidding!)
Additionally, If after brushing as deep, yet gently as the muscles can go, your suit still looks like bread socializing with many molds on it, or looks far worse that it started off at the beginning, then you’re no frugal or thrifty, you have hygienic issues and should really pay up for weekly cleaning.
All jokes aside though, the most important take away from all these points is to never allow your suits to smell or look that bad in the first place.
Once you start noticing any persistent spot or odor, or better rephrased, when your airing out and brushing efforts are no longer working as per instructions, please gather up some currency (i know it’s really hard) and get your cloths washed immediately. It’s better to spend money and look classy than be frugal and look trashy!
Like every other thing, there are also exceptions to the rule. Any suit that picks up stain or soil from carelessness or by accident should immediately make its way to the dry cleaning baskets.
Stains are your enemies’ worst suit. Your worst enemy’s suit. Your suits worst enemies. [Whatever]. The longer you let them sit on the fabric, the deeper they settle into the fabric to create a permanent residence.
And worse you can do is try to get rid of the stains yourself. Forget those expert telling you to use vinegar and lemon.
May be on cheaper or less important fabrics but not on your delicate suit! I bet these experts have never even tried these methods and are only spilling out stories the way they read them.
There are at least 30 different types of stains (without mentioning stains mixing with stains) and vinegar and lemon won’t miraculously eliminate all of them. Heck, even your professional dry cleaning would only hope and try.
So only pray that your case isn’t the worst they’re receiving.
What About The Pant And Inner Shirt?
You should wash them every other day. But the rule is to was the inner shirt after every use and every other day for the pants.
It’s unhygienic to let sweat sit overnight or worst two days on your thin fabrics. Heavy sweat? An emphatic no! Especially for inner shirts and women skirts that have been subjected to more direct contacts with the skin.
Look, the only reason why your suit takes more time to lose its freshness is because there’s an intermediate shirt to protect it from all the sweat.
At least for men. If you’re the careful type that works in an environment free from air pollution, then the everyday dust and dirt that accumulate on your suit should be easy to manage by mere brushing.
Your suit’s freshness should then last a little longer. If you’re the opposite personality with the hyena type of vibe however, you’ll need to clean your suits a little more often because they won’t last as long, especially if you wear them regularly and for longer duration.
One good news for the wallet of every suit owner though is that your shirts and pants are easily safe in the regular washer or for hand washing, except the label says otherwise.
Just make sure to use the gentlest possible setup and opt for biodegradable detergents. Usually, a lengthy cold soak and gentle friction is more than enough to rinse your pants and inner shirts by hand – unless of course, you’re the hyena type of guy!
How To Extend The Freshness Of Your Suit
Simple adhere to these tips and you’re set to go ladies and gentlemen.
- Rotate: Always make sure you have more than one suit to rotate from. Our advice is a minimum of three. Not only will you appear classy and respectable but your suits would also have breathing intervals. Before we curate our own guide, you can quickly search on google to find out how to rotate between suits, pants and shirts and still look attractive.
- Be gentle and careful with your day to day endeavors: Remember suits only get dirty and smelly when you consistently sweat in them, so try as much as possible to keep a distance from your suit at all times (if work allows it). A good investment in this case would be a quality office hanger.
- Opt for colors and materials that do not easily pick up dirt: This will significantly cut a chunk from your dry cleaning bills. Go for darker and less shouty colors if you’re not the gentle or fancy guy. It’ll make a difference. Honestly.
- Air your suit out for at least one hour after use for proper air circulation and evaporation of any sweat or damp residue: If you have wool as the base material for your suit, you’re probably going to deal with odor issues less frequently because of the self-cleaning ability of wool. After airing, return to a breathable suit bag and hang in the closet until the next use. If you don’t already have a breathable suit bag, invest in one. Anything that isn’t air tight like nylon or the dry cleaning plastic wrap is fine. Make sure the suit is not jam-packed in the closet, this will ensure proper circulation of air. If you want a quicker alternative to natural drying, steam your cloths using shower steam or a hand held steamer for 10 minutes, and then go ahead and store in the closet. You have to be very careful to ensure that the suit is not damp after the process, else you run the risk of mold and mildew growth on it, especially if it’s going to be stored for a long period.
- Brush suit with a ling brush or sticky lint roller before and after wearing to rid of spots, dust, dirt and hairs that may settle into the fibers. This would clean out your suit and make it appear neat at all times. Remember though, if the fabric is no longer brush-able, it’s time for dry cleaning.
Is Dry Cleaning Really The Only Option For Suits?
Unfortunately yes. Dry cleaning is the only option for cleaning suits, unless you don’t care about preservation.
Again, there are mountains of information on the internet regarding how to clean suits in the washer or even by hand, by truth however, the only safe and gentle way possible to clean suits is to dry clean them.
Yes, dry cleaning uses chemical solvents, and sometimes additional detergents to get rid of soils, but these solvents are in no way harsher on cloths than the regular detergents you use at home. They’re powerful, but never any detrimental.
Plus, the process of dry cleaning is very gentle and effective on cloths with set in stains which is something your hand and regular washer cannot beat.
Don’t listen to people saying that dry cleaning uses strong chemicals that would strip the suit’s fibers off its natural oils and strength, every single washing method does this and that’s why your cloths eventually end up fading with time!
Having said that, you should always be wary of the kind of solvent used on your cloths because not all solvents are actually eco and human friendly.
Play your own part by choosing greener options which will help protect our lovely mother earth! If after all this advice, you’re still that block head that will go ahead and throw your suits in the washer anyway, then good luck, because your darling costly piece will come out wrinkled, shrunken, miserable, with shoulder pads modified into a lumpy mess!
How To Extend The Life Of Your Suit
- Remove load: Before hanging any suit in the closet, make sure to remove any loads from the pockets to prevent sagging or shape distortion over time, especially if the suit will be left for an extended duration.
- Don’t iron: Turn deaf ears to those advising you to iron your suits with a pressing cloth as an intermediary between the suit and iron or a Teflon cover. It’s not that it can’t be done, but the fear is that you’ll make it a constant habit which could end up destroying the fabric. “There’s no Teflon today, pressing the iron directly on the fabric shouldn’t be a bad idea” – sounds familiar?
- Don’t wash: We’ve said this before and we are going to repeat it again. Do not wash your suit in the washer or by hand. You‘ll only end up destroying the integrity of the suit.
- Steam for wrinkle and odor: If your suit is only starting to develop musty smell, may be after the third or fourth day of work, you can steam it for the next couple of wears to marginally suppress the odor before taking it for dry cleaning. Steaming is additionally exceptional for getting rid of wrinkles, and should be done in place of ironing. If you don’t have a steamer, unzip your wallet and invest in one.
- Don’t remove stains yourself: This one is very crucial, although most people don’t know it. If you had a drink spilled over your suit, or the remnants of the lip stick from the the lady last night, it’s better to take it for dry cleaning and let the professionals do their work. Trying to get rid of stains yourself may work sometimes, but often, its an unfruitful attempt.
- Cover up your out of season suits in a breathable bag: This doesn’t only apply to out of season suits, but also to in season suits. Always cover them to avoid dust and dirt accumulation and also to avoid attracting insects that can urinate or defecate and leave persistent stains. Remember not to hang up a damp suit until it‘s fully dried.
- Invest in a quality wooden suit hanger and not on regular iron or plastic cloth hangers: This would retain the shape of the fabric better.
Can you dry clean suits at home?
It is not possible to dry clean suits at home, as the solvents of dry cleaning are typically not available for purchase by customers due to the fear of environmental pollution.
Suits just like every other garment will eventually get dirty and smelly and require thorough cleaning to eliminate the smell and dirt. Through the acid test of smell and sight as mentioned in the article, you can easily and efficiently determine when your next trip to the dry cleaners is due.