We can make our peace with the fact that good formal wear can’t be machine washed at home. Having suits dry cleaned adds to the feeling that it’s a special item of clothing. Whether for business or pleasure, dry cleaning a suit helps us present our best, most confident selves to the world.
However, with suits, dry-cleaning too often is also a mistake. In this guide, we’ll explain how often to dry clean suits and how to maintain them between visits.
How Do You Dry Clean Suits?
A good suit dry cleaning service will inspect the item for damage or stains that need extra treatment before the process starts. Once preliminary checks have been made, dry cleaning a suit always works.
This substance helps remove oil and other blemishes from the fabric without needing water. As many formal jackets are made from wool, being soaked in water could easily cause the fabric to shrink.
How Often to Dry Clean a Suit?
Dry cleaning suits need to be left to the professionals; however, you decide when to take your suit to the cleaners. How often you need your suits dry cleaned depends on what you’re using them for. Below we’ll break down different suits dry cleaning needs.
The most common item suit cleaners work with are business jackets. You should have these suits dry cleaned after every few wears: around 4 is standard.
As the jacket doesn’t directly touch your skin, you don’t need this service after every wear. However, you should be mindful of any incidental blemishes that might occur when you wear it, such as grease marks from food (it’s happened to all of us). If these can’t be removed fully by wiping with a damp cloth, dry cleaning a suit is the best option. You won’t want to wear it again with a visible blemish!
Keeping it well-maintained between visits helps to reduce spending extra time and money visiting the suit cleaners (see our guide below). Also, having suits dry cleaned too often can remove natural oils from the fabric and cause it to wear prematurely.
Dinner Jackets & Tuxedos
Keeping your best dinner jackets in top condition is essential, and you’ll need the help of a top suit dry cleaning service. But how often do you dry clean suits that you wear on formal occasions?
For most of us, dinner jackets are worn infrequently, and thus we can abide by the rule that dry cleaning a suit after each wear won’t cause too much wear on the material. You may also wish to take it for service if you don’t wear it at all for more than a few months. Even if it’s well-protected, clothing doesn’t like sitting in cupboards for too long.
Owning multiple dinner jackets is typically good practice for this reason. You can rotate your outfits (see below) to prevent them from needing attention too often.
If you’re lucky enough to have enough occasions to wear a dinner jacket that you wear the same jacket more than once per season, you may need your suits dry cleaned more often.
The same rule applies to tuxedos. Taking it to professional suit cleaners after each wear is recommended, especially because the trousers will also need special care.
Related: What is Wedding Dress Preservation?
How to Keep a Suit Clean Between Visits
So what’s the best advice for maintenance between visits? There are a few methods you can use if you’re concerned about how often to dry clean a suit but want to keep it in tip-top shape.
Wear in Rotation
If you’re wondering how often to dry clean a suit, having a few good jackets is the best way to avoid too many visits to the shop. For business wear, you can get 3-4 uses out of each jacket before it needs to be taken in, so having 5-10 options means you won’t be visiting every week. Equally, it’s nice to rotate your options for aesthetic reasons.
This is even more true of dinner jackets and tuxedos. Having a few options means you won’t be that person who “always wears that same outfit” whenever there’s a formal occasion. Plus, rotation helps extend the lifespan of your formal wardrobe significantly.
Using a handheld steam cleaner is a good way to remove wrinkles from your clothes before wearing them. If you’re on the 2nd or 3rd wear, take care to dust down the fabric first, removing any visible dust or crumbs. Then set a steamer to its lowest heat setting and carefully treat wrinkles.
Don’t worry about water: you’re not soaking the fabric, so it’s safe to use steam to clean dinner jackets, etc.
Hang After Wearing
Make sure you’re using a sturdy wooden hanger that fits the frame of your jacket. Hang the jacket up for at least a day or 2 after each use, which should allow it to sit in its proper shape and ease out wrinkles. It’s also a great idea to go over it and check for blemishes, dust, or crumbs during this time.
We understand that this is sometimes not what you want to do immediately after getting home, but as long as you can hang it, you can perform a check the next day.
Use a Cover
Using a breathable cover is an excellent way to protect a suit. This can guard against dust settling, being brushed and creased by other clothes being put into a wardrobe, or (God forbid) moth damage.
Don’t put the jacket into the cover immediately after wearing, if you’re planning to wear it again before having your suits dry cleaned. Give it a chance to air and regain its shape.
When you’re wondering how often to dry clean suits, don’t panic and rush to the shop: less is sometimes more. With careful, regular maintenance between visits, you can minimize your bill at the dry cleaners like Judi’s Cleaners — suits just need a bit of love and care in between the heavy work.
Remember that rotation is your friend. If nothing else, now you’ve got a great excuse to go out and buy yourself some gorgeous new formal wear!