Your Guide to Dry Cleaning

by Jamie Wilson

Reviewed & updated: October 19, 2022 by Jamie Wilson BA

There’s nothing like a freshly dry cleaned shirt to take your street style game to the next level. Check out our complete guide on everything from choosing the right dry cleaners to how often you should be dry cleaning a suit.

Ever since your mother stopped doing your laundry & you slipped on your first suit jacket, you’ve had to think about dry cleaning. As much as washing your garments in your own flat would be convenient, there’s nothing like a professionally pressed pair of trousers to help you up your style game. If you haven’t already found a great dry cleaning facility, we’ve put together a handy list of what you should be considering when looking a dry cleaner alongside some tips on what exactly you should be dry cleaning, and what you can chuck in the washing machine.

So What Exactly is Dry Cleaning?

Dry cleaning has probably been part of your life for years and years and years, but do you know exactly what it is?

Dry cleaning is a process to clean your clothes that uses solvents called perchlorethylene or DF 2000. These solvents are run through the garments without any soap and water to get rid of any oils, food, dust, or dirt that may be lodged inside the weaves of the garment. Even though liquids are technically used, the process is still called ‘dry cleaning.’

When you drop off your garments, they’re first sorted into their relevant areas, either for pressing, laundering, alteration, or dry cleaning. Often, your clothes are then sent out to a third party facility that will do the actual cleaning of the garments.

Stains are pre-treated, then the clothing is placed in large baskets where they’re treated with the solvents. If you choose a quality cleaning facility, they will then check everything for remaining stains and repeat. Then, clothing is steamed, pressed and ironed if needed, then sent back to your loving hands.

Dry Cleaning Vs. Laundry Services

Wondering how to clean dress shirts? There’s no need to pay top dollar for a dry cleaning service. Instead, swing by a laundry service. Rather than pay upwards of four or five pounds to dry clean a shirt, you’ll pay around one or two. Professionally laundering a shirt will remove any perspiration or oil stains that occur under the underarms or around the neck.

If you’re curious as to what dry cleaning options you should be considering, check out the care label. Wools should always be dry cleaned, but many types of cotton and linens can simply be washed.

How to Care for Your Suit in Between Visits

Rotate your suits. Even if you’re madly in love with one of your suits, give the others a chance! Switch up your suit game on the day to date to give each of yours suits a little more life. Run a steamer over your shirts before wearing to quickly remove any wrinkles.

A steam cleaner can save your suit! It may seem like a bit of an investment, but steam cleaners are a great way to keep your suit looking fresh in between dry cleaners. If you’re travelling and don’t have access to a steamer, blast your shower on high heat and leave your suit or top hanging in the bathroom. Within twenty minutes, the room should be steamed up enough to remove any wrinkles.

Brush your jackets. Go against the grain of the suit and brush off your suit after every wear. If you’re not planning on wearing the suit for a while, leave it on a garment bag of cover it with a cloth cover.

Dry Cleaning F.A.Q

How Often Should You Dry Clean a Suit?

Suits are a pricey investment, and much as you want to take care of them, excessive dry cleaning can lead to faster deterioration. If you only wear a suit on special occasions, you won’t need to dry cleaning it as frequently. If you wear your suit day in and day out, you’ll need to dry clean it more frequently.

But with that in mind, how often you need to dry clean a suit, or any clothes, depends on just what you do to them. If you wear your blazers just to the office every day, they probably won’t get as dirty as if you’re an architect wearing it out to a dirty job site. Rather than drop your dry cleaning off on a regular basis, say every four weeks or so, just take garments in when they really need it. If you dry clean wools before they need it, you’ll damage the fabric and shorten the life span of your pieces.

Wondering how often to dry clean pants? If you think about it, most guys sweat more above the waist than they do below the waist. So realistically, unless you sweat more than average, you can get away with washing wool pants roughly once a season or after 20 wears.

For denim, they don’t really need to be dry cleaned that frequently, or ever, really. If you’re keen on getting the perfect fit, get your jeans professionally cleaned. Every time you wash them they will shrink about five to ten percent.

Remember, as much as suit dry cleaning is wonderful, dry cleaning your clothing unnecessarily shortens the usable life of your garments!

What Stains Can You Take Care of Yourself?

Way too many of us just resort to dry cleaning when we aren’t sure of how to wash our clothes ourselves. Most of the time, simply brushing off your jacket and keeping it hung in a well ventilated area will be enough to eliminate any unwanted body, smoke, or food odours.

If you spill a beverage or some food on your garment, add a bit of soap and water to the stain and gently blot. Do not try and scrub the stain out, just blot it.

For wine stains, blot the stain immediately and add generous amounts of salt to the stain. Leave the salt soak into the wet stain. As it dries, it will pick up the stain. However, this needs to be done immediately. If you don’t catch the stain as soon as it happens, it’ll be best to bring your garment to the dry cleaners and leave it to the professionals.

As much as you probably want to douse a stain in water, keep an eye on what fabric it is. Luxury fabrics, like silk ties, shouldn’t be near water even if you stain it.

Should You Get a Trouser Press?

Simply said it, unless you’re one of those picky dudes who need extra crisp pants, a trouser press probably isn’t that necessary for the modern man. But that being said, if you love the look of a crisply pleated trouser, go for it! Trouser presses are a wallet-friendly alternative in the long run – it’s slim to set up and won’t take up space in your home, and will leave you wish perfectly pressed pants without ever leaving your home.

If you don’t want to invest in a pant press, but you don’t stain your clothing, simply get your pants pressed rather than laundering. This will save you a few extra dollars every month! By choosing to press your pants rather than chemically dry cleaning them, you’ll extend the life of your pants.

What if Your Stuff Comes Back Damaged?

Losing or misplacing a loved item can be a hard experience. Your clothes are important, so having some go missing can be the last thing you want to happen. If you purchased your suit for $2,000, you may only be able to receive a few hundred dollars out of that. To avoid this, familiarise yourself with your dry cleaner’s policy for lost or damaged items.

How Long Does it Take to Dry Clean a Suit?

It all depends on if your cleaner does his work in house or sends it out, as well as if he is having a busy week. Generally, give the cleaners at least two or three days to turn around a suit. That being said, sometimes they can make exceptions! But don’t depend on it and plan accordingly to avoid disappointment.

How to Choose a Dry Cleaners

When picking your dry cleaners, here are a few things to take into consideration so you won’t be disappointed.

What is Their Lost Garment/Damage Policy?

I know, this is probably a worst case scenario, but it’s best to prepare rather than be disappointed if your clothes get lost. When checking out a dry cleaner, see what their policies are. What happens if they lose a very pricey suit? You may only get a few hundred dollars back. Even though your dry cleaner may be reliable, accidents happen, so choose a cleaner with a great replacement policy.

What is Their Pricing Structure?

So, how much does dry cleaning cost? This can vary greatly from one location to another so it’s best to agree on your prices up front – there’s nothing worse than picking up your dry cleaning to find your bill skyrocketed. If you’re dropping off a specialty item, like pleated pants or a silk shirt, double check that there are no hidden costs.

Generally, you should be paying around five to ten pounds for a suit jacket. The price will probably be on the higher end of that if you’re in a more metropolitan area. Keep an eye on if they outsource their dry cleaning. Often, some stores will send the garments to one main cleaning facility, but every store will charge a different price.

What Experience Do They Have?

Try and pick out a dry cleaner that has been around for a number of years. Even better, find one that has been around for decades. That way, you can look up reviews online and will have a better chance of finding more reviews. Google is an amazing resource!

Try and find reviews that speak about how they deal with mistakes or when things go wrong – what do they do if they misplace an item? What happens if they lose it? Are they quick to turn around items? Feel free to ask them about their experience and their methodology. If they’re friendly and knowledgeable when you ask them, that’s probably a great sign!

Do they wash their clothes in house or send them out? This may not seem like that important a factor, but if something goes missing, it’s much easier to track it down if all the cleaning is done in-house. Plus, if a cleaner does the dry cleaning in-house, dry cleaning is probably a lot more of a business to them, and more of a craft.

How do they handle your clothes when they bring them in? When you bring in your garments, do they check for any spots you may have missed? Do they notice any loose or missing buttons? If they do, it’s a good sign that you’ll be getting quality service.

Tips on Keeping Your Dry Cleaning Experience Pleasant

Maintain Your Records

Know exactly what you drop off and when, and make a copy of the receipt. This isn’t really protocol at most places, but if anything goes wrong, it’s is your word versus theirs. This is a worst case scenario, but it will add some peace of mind if your clothes go missing! Plus, if you ever lose your receipt (it’ll happen!) you have another copy to make everyone’s lives earlier.

Point Out Just What is Wrong With Your Garments

Rather than just drop off your items and hit the road, let the cleaners knows exactly what the stain is. If they’re able to identify what the stain is, they’ll be a better chance of a full removal.

Be Friendly

Dry cleaners can do some amazing work and save your clothing from the brink of binning! Building a trusting relationship with your dry cleaner will ensure a happy relationship for years to come. You both need each other – you need your favourite clothes clean and ready to wear, and they need the business! Learn the names of the staff and strike up a conversation – it’ll make the entire experience that much better!

Your Quick Guide to Dry Cleaning

  • For simple clean ups on shirts, try using a laundromat as it’ll be cheaper than dry cleaning
  • Invest in a steam cleaner for quick tidy-ups between dry cleaning
  • A garment shouldn’t be dry cleaned more than once a month
  • Most stains can be removed at home with soap, water and blotting if caught in time
  • Keep copies of all receipts , if something gets lost this will cover your back
  • Agree on a price before leaving, this will avoid any unwanted price bumps

On That Note

There you have it! With these handy tips, your suits and shirts will be good as new in no time. There’s nothing like having a freshly pressed suit to help you feel confident.

When looking for a dry cleaner, save the time and ask a friend. Think of one of your well-dressed friends, and find out where they get their clothes dry cleaned. They’ll have done all the legwork for you to find the place!

Feature image from Pinterest

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