What to do when and how to clean suit jacket and pants when they get a dirt spot on them?

Before you take it to the dry cleaner, hold on a moment. You just may be able to preserve the life of your favorite suit by drastically cutting down on visits to the dry cleaner.

With the right amount of TLC, you can keep your best suit jackets and pants in rotation for years to come.

Suit Maintenance – The Basics

The best thing you can do for your suit is to care for it properly. With proper maintenance, it will need less cleaning and can last you years.

To start, you will need to give your suit a rest day after wearing it. This will likely mean that you will need more than one suit if you wear one every day.

hang your suit after use

Time off in between wearing will give the suit jacket a break from the wear and tear of daily usage. In fact, the suit will begin to fall apart much sooner if you wear it most days of the week. This will preserve its life span.

Be sure to hang the suit properly after each wear. A wooden hanger is your ideal choice to help maintain the suit’s natural shape.

Also, choose a cool, dry space to store your suits when they are not in use. And remember to empty your pockets when you remove your trousers to prevent creating a permanent bulge.

How to Clean Suit Jacket & Pants at Home

One of the most important investments you can make when you own suits is a suit brush. If you are a frequent suit wearer, invest in something that will last.

A wood-handled brush with natural bristles is a very nice, sturdy choice. You don’t need to spend a great amount of money, but be sure you invest in one you’ll enjoy using regularly.

hang your suit properly by using a strong wooden hanger

For extra oomph, you could also purchase a lint roller to use after brushing.

A portable steamer is another invaluable item for a man who wears suits regularly. If you can, purchase one that is easy to pack for when you travel.

When trying to clean up small blotches on your suit jacket or suit pants, have some mild detergent on hand. Mild is important because it will be far less harmful to the fabric than a strong detergent.

Brush the Suit

Giving your suit jacket and pants a thorough brushing after each wearing is a great way to help keep your suit clean and well-maintained.

Using a suit brush (or clothes brush), gently sweep in downward strokes, starting at the lapels and the neck area of your suit jacket. Follow the grain of the fibers. Next, lift the collar to get underneath.

how to clean suit: use a suit brush

From the shoulder seams, resume brushing downward again, along the front and then the back of the suit jacket.

Next, hold the sleeve away from the body of the jacket and brush underneath it along the side seam. Then brush the sleeves.

Do this after each time you wear it; it only takes a few moments. This small, extra effort will be a good investment in the suit jacket’s longevity. It removes any loose dirt, food particles, and dandruff and is an excellent preventative step for buildup.

You can repeat the same process to clean your suit pants.

Clean Small Spots and Stains

What happens if you notice a spot that can’t be solved with your brushing routine? You can use water wipes or a towel, along with some mild detergent, to try to remove it.

Gently dab or lightly rub the spot, moving in the opposite direction of the fabric’s weave. You only want to get the material damp, not soaked.

how to clean suit: clean small spots and stains

Be sure to do a test first in a hidden area of your suit. You want to see how the material reacts with the detergent, to ensure it doesn’t make the problem worse.

Once you have finished working on it, dry the area out by hanging both your suit jacket and pants and allowing them to air dry.

Use Steamer at the End

Steaming the jacket and pants is a great way to hit the reset button on your suit after being worn. It smooths out wrinkles from its hard day of work and will help out with any smells the suit has picked up.

You don’t need to purchase super fancy equipment; a simple clothing steamer will do. Do not, however, try to use an iron steamer. That can be too harsh on the fabric and may ruin it.

how to use steamer on suit jacket

Instead, a handheld clothing steamer will do just fine. You may be able to rent a machine from the laundromat, but you’re better off investing in one of your own. Besides, you might use it regularly now!

Steam your suit jacket when you take it off at the end of the day after you brush it. You don’t want to save the steaming for right before you put it on because it can take 15 to 20 minutes to dry.

Are you traveling and don’t want to pack your steamer in your suitcase? No worries!

Hang the suit jacket in the bathroom and turn the shower on hot for several minutes. The shower steam will work its way into your suit. Then lay it flat on the bed, smooth it out with your hands, and hang back up.

Voila! Instant travel steamer!

How to Protect and Take Care of Your Suit After Cleaning

OK, so you’ve got the basics down on how to maintain and clean a suit properly. But what is the best way to care for your suit in between each wearing?

You can take a few simple measures to ensure the suit remains in excellent condition until you are ready to wear it again.

Get High-Quality Suit Hangers

If you’ve ever seen Mommy Dearest, you’ll know that wire hangers are best avoided. But what’s the big fuss about? A wire isn’t sturdy and will do very little to help the suit jacket maintain its shape.

If the suit loses its shape, you have a huge task in front of you to try to regain its form. It may not even be possible to recover.

Instead, invest in some heavy-duty wood hangers. Wood is sturdy and helps your suit jacket to retain its natural composition.

use high-quality suit hangers

The wood should be wide across, with rounded edges. This will mimic the shape of your shoulders, keeping your suit jacket in the proper form.

If you tend to take the suit jacket off while you are at work, consider keeping an extra wooden hanger at the office.

Slinging your suit jacket over the back of your chair is just as disruptive to its form as a wire hanger. That’s why wooden hangers are critical for prolonging the suit jacket’s good condition.

Pack Your Suit if Needed

I know that you know better than to fold your suit jacket and stuff it into a suitcase, right? There are far better, safer ways to transport your suit when you are traveling.

You should always use suit covers, especially when traveling. A sturdy garment bag is an excellent investment for your wardrobe. Always cover your suit with a cloth bag, never one made of plastic.

use high-quality suit hangers

Plastic retains moisture and may cause a musty odor in your suit. On the other hand, cloth allows air to flow through your suit and keeps dust and moths off your suit. It also does wonders to prevent wrinkling.

If heaven forbid, you must fold your suit into a suitcase, learn the proper and gentle way to do so. And bring along your steamer to help your suit jacket recover from the trip cause there will be wrinkles.

How to Hang the Suit Properly

The best thing you can do when hanging up your suit jacket, aside from using wooden hangers, is to give it space.

Plenty of space is required to give your suit room to air out. Cramming all your clothes together in a closet will lead to wrinkles.

leave your suit hanged after you finished with the cleaning

If you aren’t storing your suits in a closet, hang them somewhere that is out of direct sunlight. Sunlight will cause the suit to fade. So instead, opt for a cool, dry, dark place to ensure that your suit can get the care it needs.

If you can also provide cloth covers for each suit, that’s even better. Dust and moths can wreak havoc on even your best suits.

When to Take Your Suit for Dry Cleaning

There will be unavoidable mishaps that will demand your suit jacket and pants get dry cleaned.

Dry cleaning your suit on a regular basis is not recommended, though. The chemicals involved in dry cleaning are harsh and will take a toll on the condition of your suit over time.

Dry cleaning strips a suit fabric of its necessary natural oils that keep the suit supple and soft. Without them, the fabric becomes fragile and worn out.

Before you brave a trip to the dry cleaners:

  1. Try to see if you can salvage your suit yourself.
  2. Brush your suit regularly and air it out after each wear.
  3. When you notice a stain, try to do a bit of spot cleaning first.

If all other methods do not clean up your suit jacket or pants, it’s time to take it to the dry cleaner. This should be a last resort for stains that are large and hard to remove.

How to Clean a Suit FAQs

If you’re in a rush or suffering from TLDR (Too Long, Didn’t Read), here’s a quick rundown of some of the most basic suit cleaning questions.

Can I clean a suit by myself without dry cleaning?

Of course! Properly maintaining your suit jacket and pants with brushing and steaming will do wonders for a basic cleaning after each use. For spots that are still left, try a damp cloth with mild detergent. Gently dab and rub the fabric to remove the dirt.

Can I wash a suit in the washing machine?

In most cases, you can! However, you will need to proceed with caution. Look for the machine-washable symbol before you start. If the symbol is crossed, the suit is not machine washable!

suit is machine-washable vs. a suit that is not machine-washable label

If the suit is machine-washable, turn both your suit jacket and pants inside out and roll them tightly. This will cut down on movement inside the washer and prevent the fabric from felting. Next, encase your suit in a mesh bag, and secure the bag tightly around the suit jacket. Again, this will prevent movement.

Do not ever put your suit jacket in the dryer, though. Instead, hang it on a wooden hanger when you remove it from the washing machine and allow it to air dry.

How to clean a suit jacket with stains?

If you find that you have some stains on your suit, try the methods outlined above to remove the stains. Even try your washing machine if the other methods have not worked.

If none of the above steps have worked for you, there may be no alternative. For a hard-to-remove stain, consider bringing your suit jacket and pants to a dry cleaner.

How to choose a good dry-cleaning service?

As with almost anything, it is always a good idea to research your options before taking your suit anywhere.

Do a Google search for dry cleaners in your area. Read the reviews with a critical eye. Find a business that rates well overall in the areas that fit your needs.

When going the dry-cleaning route, make sure you choose a professional facility rather than an in-home dry cleaning.

Alexander Stoicoff

Author: Alexander Stoicoff

Hi, I’m Alex, and I’ve studied and specialized in styling in Rome. Through my writing, I want to help men dress well and learn the purpose and significance of suits and other formal attire. My final goal is to make men more confident in their wardrobe choice and life in general.