If your daily grind requires a suit more often than not, a gentle brushing with a suit brush after every wear can reduces the accumulation of dirt, dust and food particles that can ruin the fabric if left unattended for too long. This can also keep you from having to visit the cleaners nearly as often, saving you money. In any case, your suit probably needs less dry cleaning than you may think. In addition to being a harsh process, forgoin the dry cleaners for a simple brush and steam can do wonders to revive and refresh your suit after a couple of wears.
Keep a sharp eye on any potential minor repairs that can occur, like small tears, loose shirt or suit buttons, and stray threads. With that said, it also doesn’t hurt to pick up a few basic sewing skills, as they'll come in handy if you need to fix a button or stich a small tear. In fact, sewing on a button is super simple, check out this video.
We’ve already waxed poetic about how easy it is to care for your dress shirts at home, but it’s always good to be reminded of a few key points:
1. Wash dress shirts on a gentle cycle, making sure to remove collar stays and pre-treating any stubborn stains you find.
2. Press or iron shirts on the cotton setting. You’ll get the best results if you iron your shirts while they’re a little damp after the wash.
3. If all else fails, take your garments to a professional cleaner, and ask questions on the best way to keep your clothes clean. Keep the starch and pressing to a minimum.
Proper storage also plays a major factor in extending the cleanliness and longevity of your clothing. Keep both clothing and footwear in a dark, cool and dry place. This reduces the risk of mold and mildew collecting on clothes. If you plan on keeping anything hung for longer than a month, consider using a garment bag to protect from dust accumulation.
Sport Some Wood
Not all fabrics are created equal, so it makes sense to put a little extra TLC into any garments made of wool, cashmere, and other high-end materials. Properly shaped wooden hangers and cedar shoe trees--designed to absorb moisture and certain odors--are great examples of clothing accessories that can help extend the life of your suits, shirts, slacks and shoes.
Alternative Cleaning Options
The standard washer/dryer combination is great for general laundering needs, but there are other options that help extend the shelf life of your wardrobe:
Air Drying - Constant cycles in the dryers, especially on high heat, can do a number on both fabrics and colors, so hanging your clothes out to dry is a great alternative. A quick iron while they’re damp will help get you clothes off the line faster, if need be. Cheap, foldable drying racks can be found at Bed, Bath, and Beyond or similar home good stores.
Hand Washing - Not every stain or spot requires a trip to the washing machine. Sometimes a gentle scrub and subsequent soak in a small tub will help get the dirt out without beating up your clothes.
In-home cleaning devices - Handheld steamers are a great way to quickly knock out wrinkles in suits and shirts without having to wait three days for a professional cleaner to take care of it.
Great clothing requires proper laundering and care in order to last as long as they were originally designed to. The best way to maintain the quality of your clothing is by being proactive. Knowing when to full-fledge launder versus opting to spot treat can save the integrity of your duds without breaking the bank, or monopolizing your time.