How to Clean Your Suit without Dry Cleaning
By Aaron Broverman
When you’re doing it every week, dry cleaning is quite a schlep and it can add up.
According to industry reports, the average business person spends between $500 and $1,500 annually on dry cleaning. So, is it possible to forego this expense and get reasonable cleanliness quality with home-spun methods instead?
Below we’ll give you a step-by-step guide to two of the most common options available for cleaning your suit without a dry cleaner.
Home Dry Cleaning
- Right off the bat, let us say that this only works with certain fabrics, so you can’t exactly go crazy. You need to check the fabric makeup of your suit first, as suits made with rayon and viscose don’t do well with regular washing. You also don’t want subject fabric with sequins or other special detailing. Only suits that are wool, cotton or linen are candidates for this process.
- Pre-treat frequent problem areas like the underarms, collar and cuffs with a damp bar of wool soap, even if you don’t see any visible stains. If there are other stains treat the soap over the stain and make sure it’s completely gone before moving on. Turn the suit inside out and place it in a mesh bag for delicates. Make sure the bag isn’t too tight and the suit has room to move.
- Set the washing machine to cold/rinse and make sure it’s on the delicate wool cycle before filling it with water and adding liquid wool soap. Once the water is full, add the bag with your suit in it. When the cycle is done, remove the suit from the bag, turn it right side out and hang the jacket on a wooden hanger.
- Pad the shoulders of the jacket with tissue paper along with the sleeves so the jacket keeps its shape, and hang the pants from the waistband on another wooden hanger. Then take a clothing steamer (not an iron) and steam out the various wrinkles while the clothes are still wet.
- Steam out any remaining wrinkles once the suit is completely dry and remove the tissue paper from the sleeves and shoulders. The suit should look like its freshly dry cleaned before you hang it back in the breathable suit bag in your closet.
Home Dry Cleaning Kits
For those who don’t want to fuss with all of the steps above, there’s one more option you can try – the home dry cleaning kit. It’s less expensive than traditional dry cleaning (approximately 10 cents an item) and only takes about 30 minutes, but you won’t get that fresh-pressed look that you could the other way.
Each kit usually comes with stain remover, absorbing pads, dry cleaning towelettes and a cleaning bag for the dryer. Simply pre-treat stains with the included stain remover and place the wool, linen or cotton suit into the resealable bag with one of the towelettes treated with dry cleaning solvents and place into the dryer for 30 minutes.
Hang dry the suit as soon as it’s done because it will be damp. To reduce wrinkles, don’t overstuff the bag and only subject one suit at a time to the process. Once again, beaded and sequined garments don’t work for this process and suits with large grease or oil stains need to be taken to a professional dry cleaner. The dry cleaning kits work best on knits and softly-tailored suits, rather than crisply-tailored options.