How to best take care of your wool suit?
How many times did you hear your spouse saying that it is time to bring your suit to the Dry-Cleaner? How many times did you not listen as you feel that it is too much work to open your wardrobe pulling it out, dropping the suit off and picking it up later and you do not feel like paying the dry-cleaner anyway? Let me tell you that your “laziness” is may saving you quite an amount of money as you go much later back to your tailor to order a new suit. But why is that? And why is a non-sophisticated dry-cleaner the “best-friend” of a tailor?
Ok, first things first, a wool suit should only be dry-cleaned and never be washed in your washing machine and also not by hand. This is definitely true for your suit-jacket as typically the fabric is fused on the inside; except you are the proud owner of an expensive canvass jacket and here the issue starts. If you damage this fusing the jacket will look bubbly and needs to be specially pressed by a machine which is typically not available in a modern, but average household. Also while washing the suit yourself you highly risk to wear out the wool material very fast. See what happens when you machine wash a nice Super Wool S 130 in your washing machine compared to the original fabric:
And now the but! comes: What is the dry-cleaner doing differently? The dry-cleaner should carefully examine your suit, pre-treat potential stains and then start washing your suit in a washing machine and yes, it will get wet as well despite using the words “dry-clean”. A reputable dry-cleaner will have a highly sophisticated and expensive washing machine where the suit is washed in silicone. This is the gentlest way of cleaning wool and not damaging the fabric or your lining. The disadvantage here is that it does not remove odour and that it need a very high-technical process of filtering and cleaning the silicone. After the washing process the dry-cleaner will have a sophisticated drying process and then a special way of bringing your suit back into form. And believe me, this is needed. But even with all this special care your fabric will get a bit thinner and that means more fragile. So, what happens if you bring your suit to a not so sophisticated dry-cleaner who may just has an industrialized washing machine? Very simple, your suit will look like it just came out of a pub after a long night drinking and as it gained at least 10 years of age. There will be hardly any form and the material is bubbled up partly. Many times you see marks on the stress points from putting either too much pressure on the suit or the pants or ironing it too hot. To repair this is quite a challenge after the event. A too hot ironed suit is next to impossible to be repaired.
So, how should you treat your suit to have the most out of it and when should you bring it to the dry-cleaner? Bring your suit only about 2-3 times a year for dry-cleaning if you do not have any substantial stains as tomato ketchup, red wine or chilli sauce. These ones have to be treated immediately!! Do not wait here and the rule is the higher the fabric quality of your suit the faster you should bring it to a highly professional dry-cleaner. If you do not have any substantial stains the lesser you clean your suit the better.
The best way of taking care of your suit is to only wear it one day at the time and then give it 2-3 days to “rest” at least. Hang it on a proper suit hanger to ensure the form stays and do only put it into your wardrobe the next day. Give it a light brush with a wool brush and avoid cramping it into your wardrobe. The suit needs room here. Do also not put it under plastic or leave it under plastic after you picked up your suit from the dry-cleaner as it will get stuffy and you have the risk of mould and moths coming in. Ensure that your wardrobe is clean, not humid and airy especially in tropical conditions and also use moth protection and dehumidifier if necessary.
Contrary to the common believe you should dry-clean your wool suit rather lesser than more. Do not wear it two days in a row, give it time to hang and “breath” and store it properly on a suit hanger and in a clean and airy wardrobe without any plastic cover then you should be able to enjoy your suit much longer.