Top 5 Easy Suit Care & Cleaning Steps
It’s easy to keep your suits in good care and the processes only require a modest budget. Let’s break them down in 5 easy steps as mentioned in the introduction above.
1. Use Quality Coat Hangers
We all have them, but do you have the right ones for your size? The correct size will protect the shoulders, and allow the jacket to drape correctly while hanging, keeping a better shape.
For instance, Paul Anthony has broad shoulders and so uses the black 22″ hangers illustrated above. Meanwhile, Charles-Philippe will likely favour the 18″ standard ones.
These black hangers are not only wide, they are also thick. Using thin and sharp hangers may affect the shape of your garment. For instance, t-shirts and polos may essentially develop “nipples” from where the ends protrude.
If you consult the centre image above, the top two hangers are ideal. Meanwhile, the bottom one is somewhat thin and won’t offer the best performance. Furthermore, there’s no particular benefit to using wooden hangers unless they’re made from untreated cedar as we’ll detail below.
In short, it’s important to buy high quality coat hangers.
2. Create Ample Closet Space & Garment Bags
Unfortunately, your suit jackets now need more storage space due to the larger coat hangers we recommended.
It’s important to provide ample space for your suits so that they can drape correctly during storage. If their packed too closely, your garments can wrinkle. Similarly, if they’re too close together, air won’t be able to circulate, which can cause the build-up of humidity and damage the fibres.
Additionally, we advise storing all suits and jackets in garment bags to protect from dust, moths. We try to store all our suits this way; even our off-season sports coats.
Nevertheless, we don’t do this with in-season sports coats simply so we can see all our wardrobe options!
Finally, ensure that you invest in breathable garment bags. If they’re sealed, air won’t be able to properly circulate and moisture may build up inside them.
3. Using Cedar Blocks & Shavings
We recently wrote an article on the benefits of cedar for shoe and suit storage. In short, the use of cedar has three main benefits:
- Cedar acts as a natural moth repellent
- It can absorb any residual moisture
- Cedar imparts a pleasant scent on textiles
Did you know each moth can lay over 100 eggs? As a result, these critters can feast on your clothes like nobody’s business!
If you have a moth problem, cedar alone won’t cure it. It would be best to have all your clothes cleaned or frozen for a few days.
Both techniques expose clothes to extreme temperatures, killing the larvae. After that, vacuum regularly and get moth traps if necessary. We recommend using Dr Killingon’s moth traps as a precautionary measure
Cedar blocks may lose their odour after a while. Therefore, you can occasionally use a few drops of cedar essential oil to renew them if necessary. Just take care not to sprinkle any on your clothes as the high concentration of oil can damage textile fibres.
4. Correct Suit Cleaning Practices
While we have made great advances in hygiene over the years, there are times where it becomes obsessive. A particular problem these days is the liberal use of dry cleaning for keep suits in good condition.
Although it has its place if you have a nasty stain, you shouldn’t really need to get a suit dry-cleaned more than twice a year. Even if you wear it more than once a week, dry cleaning too much can actually cause your suits to degrade!
This is because the chemicals are damaging to natural fabric fibers and reduces the overall appearance of quality and the longevity of your garment. Furthermore, one should not wear a suit more than once (at most twice) per week, because the fibers need time to rest between wearings.
Use A Horse Hair Brush
Prevention is better than cure, and that’s true with suit cleaning.
Get a horsehair brush and give your suit a gentle once-over when you’re done with it for the day. This removes lint and other gunk from the fibers, enabling them to last longer and thus protect your investment.
After each use, a quick 60 second brush-down is more than enough. We recommend a soft-bristled brush so as not to damage the fibers. A large, 10″ long horse hair brush yields the best results and is relatively inexpensive.
Finally, a bonus of brushing is that it renders your suit a less attractive meal for moths, which is never a bad thing!
Use A Garment Steamer Or Iron
A quick steam in the morning is optimal, but that 5 minutes is usually precious in the wee hours if you can. Realistically, steaming is best done for special occasions or to remove any wrinkles out of fabric.
I use the Rowanta Ultrasteam above as it only costs $30. Despite its small size, it kicks off pretty much unlimited steam, and we’ve seen it work wonders on some less-than-optimally shipped vintage sports coats that we’ve bought online.
If you don’t have access to a steamer, hanging your suit in the bathroom while taking a hot shower will help relax the fabric’s fibers, dropping out wrinkles. This is a great trick when travelling.
Steaming can also be good to get out certain kinds of particle-based stains. If, however, you have an oil-based stain, try putting some talcum powder on it to draw it out.
If both of those fail, this is when dry cleaning becomes the best (and safest) solution. After all, if you try to remove a stain yourself, you may even make it worse.
5. How Often To Wear A Suit
Similar to the importance of not wearing the same shoes two days in a row, it’s important to rotate your suits. The fabric needs time to recover, and allowing this to happen will extend the lifespan of the suit greatly.
After wearing a suit all day, it’s going to have picked up dirt and moisture from your body and the air’s humidity. While the dust can be removed using a brush, the moisture needs to be allowed to leave naturally.
We do this by letting the fibers relax after use by hanging for at least 24 hours. If the suit is crafted from heavier fabrics, consider even letting it hang for 48 hours. Paul uses the convenient hooks above on his wardrobe doors; they only cost $1 for two!
This airing is all that’s needed to get the suit back into it’s optimal drape. Now you’re ready to put it back in the lineup for a future sartorial instalment!
Bonus Tip: Buy In Pairs When Possible
If you’re going custom or, getting off-the-rack “suit separates,” it may be worth getting an additional pair of trousers. Pants wear much faster than jackets, and this is especially true in cooler climes where slush and salt are plentiful.
These often damage trouser bottoms, even if you have the correct length trouser. As trousers are usually a fraction of a jacket’s cost, it makes economic sense to do so.
We make this recommendation in particular for the cornerstones of your wardrobe such as blue and grey suits. These will likely be the colors you wear the most, both in a professional setting and out socially, depending on your sartorial flare.
Meanwhile, if you’re getting a more eccentric suit that you’ll wear less often, it may be best to invest in a waistcoat (vest) instead, which opens a three-piece option.
As such, we would then suggest ordering two different trouser styles: One pair with no belt loops and suspender buttons and another more regular one that will accommodate a belt.
Needless to say, if money is no object, do it all. You’ll add great variety and longevity to your suit, because the jacket is both the most expensive piece and the longest lasting (if cared for using the aforementioned five steps).
Suit Care Tips Final Thoughts
To wrap up the above guide, we can summarise our recommendations with the five following points:
- Use quality coat-hangers in your wardrobe
- Make ample closet space and use garment bags
- Invest in cedar blocks and shavings
- Avoid dry cleaning but brush and steam the suits instead
- Air your suits after use for between 24-48 hours
It may seem like a lot of money & effort to go though these steps, but it’s much less than you’d expect.
Most of the things that we’ve mentioned are a one-time cost to buy. For instance, the coat hangers are pretty cheap. Meanwhile, our other recommendations require only a small amount of time.
Now that you have read our guide to suit care, consider perusing some of our related content: