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How Often Should I Get My Suit Dry-Cleaned?

Cleaning fluffs up the fibers, resulting in a suit that looks polished and sharp. Here is how to maintain clean suit pants!

Back view of different colored suits dry cleaned

Sometimes, I try to make an impression. Perhaps I’m attending a wedding, or a funeral, or anyway, some sort of formal occasion. I don’t want to show up like some down-oh-his-luck con artist trying to fake his way into where he ought not to be.

Other times, I’m not necessarily trying to impress, but I do have to look smart. For example, when I attend business meetings, as when I go to threaten my bank manager with taking my debt and overdrawn account somewhere else.

The point I’m laboring to make is that there are times when I want–or need–to be neatly dressed and well-turned out, and that means wearing a business suit. Now, since even a moderately priced business suit is near enough to $1,000, as makes no mind, business suits are quite an investment and need proper looking after.

One question which I’m asked repeatedly is, ‘How often should I get my suit dry-cleaned?’

Unfortunately, the answer to that question is, ‘It depends.’ Now, I know that answer sucks major wind and definitely looks like a cop-out, but it really isn’t, so please hang in there and let me explain.

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Related: History of Men’s Suits (Illustrated Timeline)

When to dry-clean your suits

Front view of formal black suit hanged

Well, in terms of saving on dosh, the good news is you don’t have to dry-clean your suits every time you wear them, and the good news doesn’t stop there. Turns out, not only will you save your pocket from taking yet another beating, but you’ll also save your suits unnecessary wear-and-tear.

Tip: please do not listen to those who tell you to save your blazer and dry-clean pants or skirt separately. What will happen is that as the suit goes through life with you, it will begin to look more and more like you borrowed the blazer from an accommodating and better-off relative or friend. Do you really want to look like an importunate hobo?

Dry-clean your suits when they sustain a stain

When stains first make an appearance, they are like an inconvenient chum looking for a place to hang out.

If you make them too welcome, they’ll be on your couch and chugging your beer (or worse, your perfectly chilled wine) for a lot longer than even a reasonable person like you finds copacetic.

The trick here is to make any stain gone as quickly as possible. Even so, with some types of stain, that won’t cut it, and there’ll be nothing else for it but to have the stain professionally removed, meaning a trip to the dry-cleaners.

Note: don’t forget my earlier admonishment! It doesn’t matter which part of the suit caught the stain; the entire outfit must be sent for cleaning.

Dry-cleaning those pesky pants

Red pesky pants worn

Pants have a way of looking as if they went through some sort of sartorial wormhole and suffered a horrible fate in a parallel universe.

You attend an upscale affair in your finest business suit and, upon your return home, you happen to glance at yourself in a full-length mirror.

Almost inevitably, you find that your blazer is as pristine as when you first left home, but your pants look like they’ve been creased by gremlins who get unmentionable–and frankly unsavory–jollies from crumpling them.

When faced with pants that look downtrodden and defeated by life, you don’t need to have them dry-cleaned. Instead, use a misting spray bottle to hose them down in a fine mist of mineral water and iron out the wrinkles.

I’m against using a steam iron for this purpose because it puts the pants through stresses and strains that the blazer doesn’t endure, and I imagine that over time, pants and blazer will begin to look like they belong to separate individuals.

The upshot of this is, don’t dry-clean your suit’s pants separately, even when they look like they’re prepared to lawyer up and sue.

Dry-cleaning your suit free of the crime of grime

A grubby business suit says much about you as a business partner. It says, ‘Hell, no!’ I once had dealings with an undeniably affable gentleman, good company and all that, but the egg stains on his lapel ended the possibility of any future business dealings between us, and at the time, I was master of considerable sums of money.

(Not mine, unfortunately, but under my authority to dispense.)

It well behooves a serious businessperson to maintain a clean and sharp appearance because, heck yeah, appearance matters. Remember Miss. Monroe?
I don’t mind making jokes, but I don’t want to look like one.’
―Marilyn Monroe Quotes (n.d.)
Retrieved February 10, 2022, from BrainyQuote.com Web site: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/marilyn_monroe_382998

Brush your suit (gently!) after each use. Soft-bristled brushes will remove the build-up of dust and grime and obviate the necessity of yet another trip to the dry cleaners. However, when your suit has lost its swagger and is clearly struggling, do not hesitate to take it in. Anecdotally, and in agreement with my personal experience, suits need dry-cleaning after every seven or eight outings.

How to maintain your suits through several dry-cleaning cycles

A man wearing a blue two piece suit

Investigate new dry-cleaners before handing them your precious

Not all dry-cleaners are equal. As with any other fiduciary transaction, remember first and foremost that trust should never be gifted; trust must be earned. As such, do your due diligence before choosing a dry-cleaner.

The Internet is your friend! Search the web for reports, fair or foul, of the dry-cleaning establishment and take such reports to heart, especially bad ones.

Treat your suits like they cost nearly $1,000

When not in use, hang your suit’s pants on a wooden hanger with as broad a spindle (crossbar) as possible. Plastic hangers will also suffice. Avoid wire hangers like the plague because they can, and often do, oxidize and stain clothes folded on their crossbar.

Keep the suit ensconced in a plastic bag, but ensure the bag can breathe! Nothing wrecks a suit like the mustiness that accompanies it when stored away in an airless container. Follow this advice and it will help you deal with small creases and lessen your dry-cleaning costs.