For many men, a great wool suit might be the most expensive piece of clothing they’ll ever purchase. So it stands to reason that you would want to take care of and keep clean your investment. Knowing the ins and outs of cleaning a wool suit – how often it should be cleaned, whether dry cleaning is safe – isn’t just about keeping it smelling fresh, but also prolonging its life.
DRY CLEAN ONLY WHEN ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY
As a rule, dry cleaning should be a last resort. Modern dry cleaning methods involve the use of blasting the fabric of your suit with harsh chemicals. While the occasional visit won’t do too much damage, a lot of men make the mistake of over-cleaning, which can weaken the fibres and also cause the colour of your suit to fade. By following a good maintenance routine, a suit should only need to visit the dry cleaners at most three times a year.
ROTATE AND PROTECT
One of the easiest ways to maintain the condition and cleanliness of a wool suit is to allow time for it to recover. Avoid wearing the same suit two days in a row, instead rotating your outfits to allow your suit to recover and prevent it from deteriorating.
When not in use, it should be stored in a cloth suit bag. Cloth – as opposed to plastic or canvas – not only protects your suit from moths but will also encourage airflow, which is important when it comes to keeping your wool suit fresh.
HANG AND BREATHE
Immediately hanging your suit after wearing aerates the fabric, which prevent the build-up of odors. Wool is a natural fibre and as such breathes. Or in other words, it allows for airflow that helps dissipate any moisture absorbed by the garment. Incidentally, this is what makes wool such a beautiful year-round material.
Invest in a hanger made of natural wood, choosing one that is contoured to follow the natural shape of the shoulders. The wood will help absorb moisture after wearing, while the contoured hanger will help maintain the shape of your suit.
STEAM, NOT IRON
Excess heat can be damaging to wool so avoid ironing where possible. While a good quality steamer isn’t cheap, they are an investment that has huge dividends in the long term care of your suit.
Portable steamers will not only remove any wrinkles that may develop through daily wearing or poor storage, but also remove the daily build-up of dirt and thus help maintain a pristine, clean wool suit.
BRUSH BEFORE DRY CLEANING
Rather than resorting to a dry cleaner, invest in a good quality suit brush and gently give your suit a brush after every time you wear it.
This will help remove the dirt and tiny particles that cause odors without damaging the suit. Where possible, choose a brush made with real animal hair, as these are gentler than the synthetic variety.