If you’re the guy that dry cleans your suit just because it’s wrinkled, not only are you wasting a ton of money, but you’re also unnecessarily shortening the life of your suit. When your suit is dry-cleaned, it is washed in harsh solvents that are then extracted along with oils, food, dust, and other particles. Unfortunately, the solvents also remove the wool’s natural oils that make it soft, and they weaken the wool fibers. The repeated punishment from the harsh solvents and heat press also smooths out the fibers and makes the suit shiny. If you have ever seen a mangled old patch of carpet in a high traffic area, that is the same effect.
Brush often, dry-clean seldom
The best way to extend the life of your suit is to brush it after each use. Brushing freshens the fabric and removes the unwanted particles sitting on the outer layer before they have a chance to become embedded in the fibers. Hanging your suit in a well-ventilated area after brushing will also remove stale odors like tobacco smoke and cooking oil. Even with proper care, your suit is eventually going to need to be dry-cleaned, but this should only be done when absolutely necessary…
How to Brush your suit:
Get a garment brush
You can find a decent stiff bristle garment brush easily online for about $20-$40. One of the best quality brush-makers is a British company named Kent, but their brushes can get pricey.
Step 1: Front and Back
Take everything out of the pockets and make sure the flaps are not tucked-in. Turn up the collar/lapel and lay the jacket flat face-down on your bed or ironing board. Sweep the brush up and down the entire length of the jacket with long even strokes. This allows you to be pretty vigorous without leaving brush marks. Always brush against the grain of the fabric first to lift the fibers and loosen any dust and/or particles.
Step 2: Sleeves
Follow the same process for brushing the sleeves, but make sure you change the position of the sleeves so you are able to brush their entire surface.
Step 3: Shoulders
Sweep the brush back and forth along the shoulder using short quick strokes. This is where dust and dandruff accumulate, so it is important the bristles lift the fibers of the material. Be careful not to brush so strong that you damage the fabric. Make sure you use the same even strokes on each shoulder; otherwise, your jacket will look patchy and uneven.
Step 4: Collar
Turn the jacket over and repeat the long even strokes on the inner wool facing. Work your way around the turned up collar with short even strokes. Your jacket is now ready to be hung up and put away.
Step 5: Pants
If your pants have cuffs, turn them down before you start brushing. You kick up dust as you walk, and it collects in your cuff. Lay the pants out on your bed or ironing board and sweep the brush up and down each pant leg in long even strokes. Brush the dust out of the cuffs with short quick strokes. As you brush, make sure to continuously reposition the pants so you are able to brush the entire surface. Once finished, make sure to fold the cuffs back into position and hang your freshly brushed pants in the closet.
***I recommend occasionally turning your pants inside out and brushing any wool (not the lining) that has direct contact with your skin. Like it or not, dead skin will collect in the fibers, so it’s a good idea to brush that out, too.
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