Anyone who owns a suit will know that they need cleaning and storing properly to keep them looking fresh.
Generally, suits should be dry-cleaned, although some manufacturers sell machine-washable suits.
Going to the dry cleaners regularly for all your suits can be expensive, though.
It can help to know how to dry clean a suit at home to avoid spending too much. And that’s exactly what we’ll cover in this article.
Can You Dry Clean a Suit at Home?
The first thing to note when discussing how to dry clean a suit at home is that, technically speaking, you won’t be able to actually dry clean it.
Dry cleaning involves using solvent chemicals in place of water and normal detergents, and requires specialist equipment, too.
As such, it’s still best to take your suit to a dry cleaner every now and then. Nothing you’ll be able to do at home will come close to the level of cleaning they can offer.
That said, there are plenty of options for refreshing or spot cleaning your suit at home.
Home Dry Cleaning Kits
An alternative to washing your suit at home (which isn’t usually an option) is to use a dry cleaning kit. There are loads of options on the market, but something like the Dryel At-Home Dry Cleaning Kit is a good starting point.
Like many at-home kits, it includes a bag that you put the suit in and then throw the whole lot in the tumble dryer. It essentially steam cleans the suit, making it safe for pretty much any suit material. These kits usually have scents, too, to help remove smells.
Most kits only need about 15 minutes of tumble drying on a medium heat, which should be low and quick enough to affect the shape of your suit.
To be safe, you’ll want to check whether the specific dry cleaning kit you’re buying is suitable for suits. The Dryel kit linked above is ideal, and there are plenty of reviews confirming this.
Removing Odours from Your Suit
Because a suit doesn’t touch bare skin (at least on your upper half), it shouldn’t get too smelly.
It’s inevitable with regular wear, though, especially around the armpits of your suit jacket and waistcoat.
Some options for removing the smell from a suit include:
- Turn it inside out and sprinkle the smelly area with bicarbonate of soda. Leave it for 5-10 minutes and then remove it with a vacuum cleaner.
- Turn the item inside out and hang outside to air. Leave it outside for as long as possible.
- After airing, put the suit in its storage bag and add a scented dry cleaning or tumble dryer sheet.
You could also try spraying the smelly area with either vinegar and water or vodka. Bear in mind, though, that dry-clean-only suits can’t get too wet.
You’ll need to spray very lightly with a spritzer bottle and make sure it dries as quickly as possible. Again, turn it inside out so you’re spraying the lining rather than the outer material.
Another option is to use a clothes steamer, such as this Rolipo 1800W Clothes Steamer. It’s usually fine to steam dry-clean-only clothes, including wool, as the water evaporates fairly quickly.
A steamer will help press out creases and should make your suit smell a bit nicer (after the initial wet dog smell has faded!).
Spot-Cleaning Stains on Your Suit
If the worst happens and you spill something on your suit, you’ll want to act quickly to prevent the stain from setting.
A dried-on stain will have to be dealt with by a dry cleaner, as there’s very little you’ll be able to do at home.
The exact treatment method will depend on the type of stain, but some examples include:
- Food stains: A small amount of white vinegar or washing up liquid
- Oil-based stains: Bicarbonate of soda
- Protein stains: A few drops of enzyme-based laundry detergent
You’ll want to blot the stain (if necessary) and then work a small amount of the relevant product into the affected area.
Then, remove it with some kitchen paper or a clean towel. Avoid using water where possible. If the stain is still visible, repeat the process.
After that, your next stop should be a dry cleaner if you can still see it.
Keeping Your Suit Looking Fresh
Finally, you’ll want to do some regular maintenance on the outer material of your suit. This is true for wool, cotton, and linen, or any combination of these materials. Two helpful products are:
- A lint roller
- A clothes brush
The lint roller is fairly self-explanatory: it removes stray hairs and other stuff stuck to your suit.
The clothes brush does the same but it can also help remove dust and dirt. Importantly, it gets deeper into the fibres than a lint roller.
Giving your suit a brush down after each wear will keep it looking as fresh as possible. Getting rid of dirt and hair will also make it look cleaner than it actually is!
Is It OK to Wash a Suit in the Washing Machine?
If your suit says it’s dry clean only, you’d best avoid putting it in the washing machine.
There are numerous reasons why a suit must be dry cleaned, including material choice, colour, and its construction. Machine washing could lead to fading, distortion and shrinkage.
Of course, there are machine washable suits. These are typically made from synthetic fabrics such as polyester, which have less risk of fading or distorting in a domestic washing machine.
Considering suits are usually expensive, it’s not worth taking the risk of washing them at home if they’re dry clean only. Some items can be hand-washed with few issues, but a suit isn’t one of them!
The tips above should help you next time you need to freshen up your suit. Remember, though, that you’ll never fully replicate dry cleaning at home.
It’ll still be worth taking your suit to a professional every few months, but these tips should help you save a bit of money.
Jacob is a freelance writer based in Wales, where he lives with his partner and two dogs. All his work is fuelled by extensive research and buckets of coffee.