Regardless of whether you wear a suit every day or not, eventually it’ll need cleaning. Putting it in the washing machine is the most obvious option, but is this even possible?
In this article, we’ll look at whether you can put a suit in the washing machine.
Can You Put a Suit in the Washing Machine?
Although it depends on the suit’s material and specific care instructions, the answer is usually no, you can’t put a suit in the washing machine.
Doing so could affect the suit’s shape by swelling and stretching the fibres. While this isn’t the case for every material, it’s theoretically always a risk with anything you wash.
A wool suit should obviously go nowhere near a washing machine. Polyester suits might be fine, but check what the product states on its cleaning instructions. Most suits will advise dry-cleaning only, regardless of the material used.
What Happens if You Put a Suit in Washing Machine?
Putting a suit in the washing machine could damage the fibres or change the garment’s shape.
Washing fabric causes the fibres to stretch, and there’s always a risk of them not shrinking back into shape.
While this isn’t as much of an issue with something like a t-shirt or jeans, it matters with a suit. Suits have very specific construction, and changing this will affect how it sits on your body.
What Is the Best Way to Wash a Suit?
Generally, you should only need to fully wash a suit as a very last resort. There’s a lot you can do with spot-cleaning and odour removal. Some tips for keeping your suit fresh include:
- If possible, keep it in a suit bag. This should minimise any musty smells from keeping it in storage.
- Spray with a mixture of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) and water to remove mild odours. Make sure it dries before you put it away.
- Use something like this BFWood Clothes Brush to remove lint and other small particles.
- Steaming can do wonders for removing odours and creases. While you can buy a steamer, you can do it with an iron that has a steam function.
Dry Cleaning a Suit: When and Why
Dry cleaning a suit is the best option if it needs a deep clean. The process uses liquids with a lower evaporation point, meaning there’s less impact on the item’s fibres. This helps reduce stretching.
As such, it’s ideal for items that have a tailored shape or are made from materials that don’t mix well with water, such as suits.
But when should you get a suit dry cleaned? If you wear it regularly (at least once a week), get it dry cleaned every month or two. But if you only wear it occasionally, once a year should be enough.
Because most of a suit doesn’t directly touch your body, cleaning doesn’t need to happen as often.
Luckily, if you do need to clean it, there’s plenty you can do before it needs a full wash. Provided you’re careful, your suit can stay clean and fresh for a long time.
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.