When To Dry Clean Your Suit – Do’s And Dont’s

When To Dry Clean Your Suit - Picture by Singapore Laundry

Look sharp and always keep your clothes clean – Picture by Singapore Laundry

Life Throws You Content Every Day

Every weekend Misiu Academy tries to come up with new interesting articles. Honestly, all I have to do is look around my daily life and something worth writing will show up. So why is this newest article about “When To Dry Clean Your Suit“?

This is because a few days ago I attended my best friend’s wedding in my beloved Suitsupply Custom Suit. After managing no spills and stains after 5 hours of dancing and eating it was time to go. My other best friend comes to say goodnight, hugs me and puts her head on my shoulder.

Say hello to Mr. Make-up Stain.

Unfortunately Make-up can be quite a pain to remove especially if it drenches your clothes and gets sucked in the fabric. Some research later and consultation with my dry-cleaning expert grandfather and we have this essential article.

When to dry clean your suit gentlemen will not just tell you what dry-cleaning is. We will also discuss what to do and more importantly, NOT to do when your business suits get dirty.

What Is Dry Cleaning?

Let’s start with the basics by eliminating one of the biggest misconceptions. Dry Cleaning is not “Dry”. Shocking huh?

In fact, dry cleaning get’s its name due to the fact that no water or detergents are used. Instead, the certified dry cleaner uses solvents to clean your clothes. Tetrachloroethylene (or Perchloroethylene) is very popular since the 1930’s due to its cleansing properties and being non-flammable.

When To Dry Clean Your Suit

Just a much bigger version of our own machines don’t you think?

After receiving your clothes, the cleaner puts them in a big machine that looks no different than a giant version of your own washing machine. The clothes are soaked in the solvent, dried, pressed and ironed and are ready for your business adventures.

What’s The Catch?

The problem with dry cleaning is two-fold. The chemicals used are strong and quite harsh to the fabrics and can also have hazardous effects on both humans and the environment. Let’s give it a closer look.

1) Dangers For The Fabric

As aforementioned above, your suit is soaked with very potent solvents. As such, due to their nature and the friction during the dry cleaning process, your suit can become shiny or lose some colour. The process also puts a lot of pressure on the delicate fabrics and this is one of the reason you should only dry clean your suits when absolutely necessary.

2) Dangers For Humans

Once again, these are highly toxic solvents not for just humans but also the environment. Tetrachloroethylene is often found in soil and water contamination and is one of the indicators that I look for in my day job as an environmental consultant. Not only that, but there are numerous reports that it is carcinogenic. Fortunately, more and more dry cleaning companies shift towards more environmental friendly solvents or at least try to recapture and reuse 99% after it has been used in the machine.

Wow, Why Would I Dry Clean Then?

Dry cleaning is a necessity in many occasions. Your wool suits cannot be washed by hand and require help from a professional. Be it natural odour, sweat, make-up stains or even mustard or wine, it is not something that you should attempt to clean yourself. More on that later.

And How Often?

If you rarely wear a suit you can get away with dry cleaning it once a year. A little more frequently if you wear suits daily. Do NOT dry clean your suit every week or you risk severely damaging it.

Alright, Make Me A Simple List!

Here are a few examples of what requires dry cleaning:

  • 1-3 times per year, depending on use for maintenance
  • Wine/Spirits Stains, if you are brave you can pour white wine on red stains to counter. I am not so brave!
  • Food Stains, goes without saying. Do not try to apply pressure with a napkin.
  • Make-up/Mascara/Women Products, they can drench the fibers such as in this occasion
  • Unpleasant Smells/Smoke, if your suit begins to smell bad

Pretty straightforward list and quite intuitive in my opinion but important to state nonetheless.

Pro Tip: It is always worth asking yourself if you really need to dry clean your suit. If it is something minor, something that would not impact your look or performance or something that can be removed by a tiny amount of water or a blow-drier, then by all means skip it! However, if it is serious or you are unsure what to do, ALWAYS go to a professional.

When To Dry Clean Your Suit

Throwback to 1956

Do’s And Don’ts

Now that we have better understanding of dry cleaning’s basics it is time for some helpful tips.

Do: Rotate Your Suits

Suits are like dress shoes. After each use you need to hang them and let them rest in between. Your suits are your armour and you want to prolong their life and maintain their quality as much as possible.

Additionally, if you wear the same combination every day, people will notice that you are using the same clothes. Rotating let’s the garment retain shape, touch and freshness. Let your suit rest for 24-48 hours before you use them and you will definitely visit the dry cleaner less often.

Don’t: Dry Clean Every Week Or Month

This connects to the previous tip. Rotating your suits will require less frequent dry cleaning. Remember that the process involves chemicals that can do irreparable damage to your garments. Only do it if it gets stained or smells unpleasant.

Do: Take Your Suit To A Professional

There is a reason suits have a “Dry clean only” label. Home washing machines are wool’s (and delicate clothing’s) worst enemy. A professional cleaner is the only one qualified to treat your clothes with care and the only one with the correct equipment.

Don’t: Don’t Try To Clean Yourself

One of the most common mistakes is trying all these fancy tips and tricks you find online or in this latest YouTube video. Are you brave to throw white wine on a red wine stain on your 1000$ suit? Did you know that you should not use a napkin and try to wipe the stain off? All you do is press the stain more into the fabric. Leave the vinegar and soap remedies for another day and go to a professional.

When To Dry Clean Your Suit

Please don’t do this unless you really know what you are doing

Remember my make-up story? I tried to clean it with water/soap and a cotton bud and guess what: it didn’t work.

Do: Look For An Eco-Friendly Cleaner

Perchlorethylene (PERC) is toxic and a known carcinogen. Look for a cleaner that uses more Eco-friendly solutions such as DF2000. If there is no alternative, look for cleaners that at least reuse the solvent by capturing the steam from the machine and condensing it again.

When To Dry Clean Your Suit

Better for the environment, better for you

Don’t: Be Afraid To Ask Questions

Ask for the process and more details from your cleaner. They will not mind! Sometimes they will explain you things and make you calmer if it’s your first time or you worry about a stain.

Do: Take Pictures And List Your Items

Sometimes the unthinkable happens and your clothes get lost, misplaced or a button is missing. Take some pictures of your suit as proof and be sure to tell your cleaner about any weak spots in the suit, such as a loose button. Ask or make a list of what items you drop off and make sure they use a barcode tag for easy retrieval.

Don’t: Dry Clean Suit Pieces Separately

If you have a suit and only the top gets stained, please avoid dry cleaning only the jacket. Especially for your first time you should give the whole suit to be cleaned. Why? Because dry cleaning can cause shine or slight change of colour. Imagine if your suit jacket was 1% brighter than your suit pants. You can tell, others will tell and most importantly, it will not look like a suit anymore.

This is one of the most important things in my opinion and one tip that I do not see mentioned frequently when you search online. Please, pay special attention to this tip!

This Was A Lot Of Information!

You bet it was. Dry cleaning is serious business. Important, indispensable but also something that needs to be taken very seriously. Hopefully this guide will open your eyes and you learned something today.

When To Dry Clean Your Suit

Typical dry cleaning rack

Grandpa used to be a dry cleaner and I remember sitting in his store while he was hand-pressing pants with steam. He taught me a lot this week and it was time to pass the torch. He is awesome and no wonder he survived World War II. Grandpa is 86.

Without further ado, here is a quick summary of the most important lessons from today’s article:

  • Don’t dry clean often, only when needed
  • Use a professional and avoid home remedies
  • Rotate your suits and prolong their life
  • Don’t dry clean parts of your suit separately
  • Prefer an Eco-friendly cleaner

This concludes our comprehensive “When To Dry Clean Your Suit” article. It has been great researching and writing this article and I hope you do feel my enthusiasm writing these sentences.

It was a good time to bring a different type of article and break from the norm since dry cleaning is an essential topic that you should know about. Go ask your friend if he knows that it is not actually dry. Shocking I tell you!

Do you have a personal story to share? Maybe you got a make-up stain that made you frustrated or unhappy? Let us know in the comments down below and be sure to support Misiu Academy by subscribing! We will appreciate it.

Thank you for reading,

Kostas Mandilaris,
Misiu Academy

Written by Kostas Mandilaris