• Lydia Chu

How to properly care for your suit

Well-maintained suit will not only last longer but also will save you money in the long run.


Before I got into an image consultation business, I was in the dry cleaning business for many years. In 1998, my ex-husband and I started out with one store and ended up opening three more by 2013. Unlike most of the dry cleaning stores we have now, we actually did all the cleaning and pressing on site. We cleaned pretty much anything from jeans to wedding dresses but mostly suits and dress shirts. We were probably cleaning couple of hundred dress shirts a day, so I got to know a lot of about garment care.

Often, customers would bring in suits with moth holes and ask us if there was anything we can do to salvage them. Well, once the moths and insects get to your clothes, there’s nothing that can be done to reverse the damage. Sometimes, with garments that are loosely woven such as sweaters, a process called reweaving can restore the damage, but when it comes to garments that are tightly woven like suits, it’s almost impossible to reverse the damage. Unfortunately, most of these customers had worn their suits only once or twice. So, on this blog, I’ll be talking about why this happens, ways to prevent it, and the best way to care for your suit.


Here are some tips on how to care for your valuable garment


Suits


Owning a suit is a big investment for most of us but few of us know how to care for them. Since most suits are dry clean only, we can’t just throw them in a washer like we do with other clothes. It requires a professional care. By law, all garments sold by the garment industry are required to have a care label. So, it’s wise to follow the care label and clean them as specified, but unfortunately, it's hard to know how often you should clean them and what happens when you don’t properly care for them.

Depending on how often you wear your suit, you should have it cleaned more than once a year. I have seen a lot of people who have had their suits for years and never had it cleaned. Some were lucky enough not to have anything happen to their suits, but most are not so lucky. My rule of thumb is that if you wear your suit at least once a week, get it clean at least once a month. If you are one of those people who wear a suit maybe once a year, you should have it cleaned before you put it away.


Most people think about having their suit cleaned right before they have to wear it, but this is a bad idea. This is because even if you wear it one time, it has attracted dirt and stains that you might not notice like water or other sugary beverage stains that might potentially attract insects and moths if left untreated. When the stains are left untreated, it can be very difficult to remove at a later time especially stubborn stains like wine, blood, and oil. Stains can start setting almost immediately and can leave a serious and irreversible damage to your valuable garment.

Cleaning


  • Be sure to take it to the drycleaners and have it professionally cleaned.

  • Always follow the instructions on the care label

  • It's a good idea to clean the jacket and the pants together if possible since some fading might occur during the drycleaning process.

  • If you spill something on your suit, don't try to spot clean at home. Take it the cleaners right away. Rubbing or spotting can set the stain even further and will make it harder for the cleaners to get them out.

Storing


  • Always clean your suit before storing away for the season or if you're planning on not wearing it for a while.

  • Hang your suit on a nice suit hanger with rounded edges to maintain it's natural shape.

  • Do not store your suit in an unbreathable plastic bags like the ones you get from the cleaners. Moisture can collect inside the bag and can cause irreversible damage to your garment.

  • Best way to protect your garment from moths and insects is having them cleaned periodically but for added protection, you can also use cedar bags or cedar blocks when storing.

Packing


  • If you're carrying your suit in a garment bag, put your suit in a plastic bag first (like the one you get from the cleaners) , then put it in the garment bag. Tie the bottom of the bag to trap the air. This will act as a protection and can help with wrinkling.

  • If you need to fold the suit to put it in a suitcase, turn the suit inside out, put the shoulders together and roll up from the bottom. Put the folded suit in a plastic bag for added protection before packing.

Dress shirts



Cleaning


  • Always take your shirts to the cleaners for professional cleaning and pressing. Even if they're wrinkle free, I recommend taking it to the cleaners for that crisp, professional look. You can never achieve that professional look at home no matter how hard you try and this is because of the pressing machine used by the cleaners. The cleaning cost can range anywhere from $2.50 - $5.00 a shirt. Trust me, it's better than spending half an hour to an hour trying to press it yourself. Home pressing will not even come close to what the shirt machines can do at the cleaners. It's totally worth it.

  • Have your shirts clean often and not once a month. The perspiration stains around the collar and the underarm will cause a buildup and create an ugly, yellow stains. If left untreated, it'll ruin the shirt. If you're not able to take it to the cleaners right away, then at least run the shirt through the wash at home to treat the stains, but be sure to take it to the cleaners for the professional pressing. If you perspire easily, I recommend wearing a sweat-proof undershirts. These will block underarm sweat and odor while protecting your shirt. The brand I recommend is Thompson Tee.

Storing


  • Never store your shirts dirty. Don't leave them in your laundry basket for days. Take it to the cleaners right away or throw it in the wash as soon as you can so the stains don't set especially the perspiration stains.

  • Never leave your shirt in a plastic bag.

  • Be sure to change out the broken buttons. Chipped or broken buttons can look unprofessional.

Packing


  • If you need to pack your shirt in a suitcase for traveling, it's a good idea to have it folded. You can take it to the cleaners and ask to have it folded. It costs extra but it's worth the price. If not, you can try to fold them youself at home.

Whether it's your suit, dress shirt, or shoes, it's always important to properly take care of them so when you have to dress up for that important interview or special occasion, you can always look your best.

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