Everything You Need to Know About Dry Cleaning: Men’s Style Guide

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We answer your questions related to men’s dry cleaning:

  • How long does dry cleaning a suit take?
  • What does it cost to dry clean a suit?
  • How often should you dry clean a suit?

This Is Your Guide to Men’s Dry Cleaning

Let’s face the facts: Dry cleaning can be an extremely difficult thing to conquer. While some of us dry clean our clothes entirely too often, there are others who are so befuddled by the entire process that they neglect it altogether.

Instead of wasting time and money experimenting with your dry cleaning process, we have decided to create an all-in-one guide for you. Here, you will find everything you need to know about men’s dry cleaning, how often you should do it, and even when you can skip it and wash your clothes at home instead.

What is dry cleaning?

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The term “dry cleaning” derived because there is no water involved in the cleaning process. Instead of cleaning the old fashioned way with soap and water, a chemical solvent – typically perchloroethylene – is used.

Dry cleaning is primarily beneficial for delicate clothing that cannot withstand the rough tumble of a washer and dryer. The solvent cleans fabrics and extracts dirts, dust, oils, etc. from the clothing, leaving them looking fresher for longer.

Unfortunately, dry cleaning is not effective on all clothing. Certain clothing materials either do not absorb the solvent, or ultimately become damaged if dry cleaned too often.

Below, you will find a short list of materials that you should avoid dry cleaning in order to prolong their life:

  • Cotton
  • Wool
  • Cashmere

What is the dry cleaning process?

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To get technical, dry cleaning starts from the moment that you enter the establishment. They will take note of the clothing articles you bring in and provide you with a pickup date and price for your clothing.

After stains have been taken care of, your clothing will be loaded into very large machines. They sit in baskets that are rotated in perchloroethylene until clean. From there, the perchloroethylene is drained and your shirts are inspected for cleanliness. Assuming that the perc did its job, your clothing is then steamed, pressed, ironed, and bagged for your pickup.

The actual process does not take much time at all, but many dry cleaning companies ship their clothing out to be handled. Personally, I prefer finding a dry cleaner that does everything in house. This way, you know that your clothing is going through as few hands as possible.

How much does dry cleaning cost?

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The cost of your dry cleaning is going to be heavily dependent on the region you reside. Obviously, cities are going to be much more expensive than rural areas, though there are high and low price points in all areas.

It is important to shop around and find a dry cleaning service that is right for you. Don’t be afraid to call a few contenders ahead of time and ask them a few important questions before making your decision.

Generally, however, dry cleaning prices in New York City are as follows:

Blouses: $7.00

Shirts: $6.50

Sweaters: $8.00

Pants: $6.50

Jeans: $7.00

Skirts: $7.00

Dresses: $12.50

2 Piece Suits: $15.00

Suit jackets: $10.00

Ties: $6.00

Jackets: $12.00

Coats: $20.00

As you can see, this can add up to becoming a very costly thing — especially if you do it more often than necessary. Which brings up to our next question…

How often should I dry clean my clothing?

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This question is a difficult one to answer. Truth be told, it depends entirely on the article of clothing in question and the material of which the clothing is made.

Although dry cleaning is a great way to clean your clothing, frivolous and unnecessary dry cleaning practices will wear down the material and shorten its life expectancy. To avoid this from happening, it is important to know your clothes and to know how often you should dry clean them.

How often should I dry clean wool/suits?

Before taking your wool to a dry cleaner, you should try various cleaning processes. Wool is very difficult to dry clean and can be easily worn down if it is cleaned in excess. You should only dry clean your wool clothing if you have first attempted brushing, spot cleaning, and airing to no avail. This includes business suits– If you wear a suit to work daily, there is a great chance that you are dry cleaning your clothes far too often. You should only dry clean them after you have attempted other cleaning methods that aren’t doing the job.

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How often should I dry clean dress shirts?

It depends on the material. Cotton shirts should only be dry cleaned every so often, as the perc can be harmful to the material. Unless you want to constantly be replacing your shirts, I recommend only dry cleaning your shirts every four wears or so.

How often should I dry clean sweaters?

Truth be told, dry cleaning sweaters doesn’t really do much for the sweater at all. It is much more beneficial to the material to hand wash your sweater with a mild soap and some warm water. Not only will this lengthen the life span of your sweater, but it will make the material feel soft and young much longer.

How can I keep my clothes clean between dry cleaning visits?

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Because you shouldn’t dry clean your clothes too often, it is important to find a cleaning process that works for you. To avoid taking constant trips to the dry cleaners and wearing down the material of your clothing, here are a few important things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t over wear one outfit. Yes, we all have that favorite outfit that we love to death. It is important, however, not to constantly wear your favorite suit. Not only will it get dirtier faster, but that wear will show much more quickly and your favorite suit will start looking old and used before you know it.
  • Hang your suit. Directly after using your clothing, put it on a hanger and allow it to hang for 2 days. This gets rid of most wrinkles in the material and allows the clothing some time to rest and breathe before using it again.
  • Use a cloth cover to cover the material. This will block away stains and odors, but still allow the material the necessary air to breathe.
  • Steam it out. Set your steamer to the lowest possible setting and steam away any wrinkles right before you wear it. This will keep your clothing looking dry cleaned without the constant added cost and stress on the material.

Can I dry clean my suit at home?

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In short: Yes. Those pesky clothing items you own that say “dry clean only” on the tag don’t exist just to collect dust and cost you a fortune. You can easily dry clean at home with a little time and practice and we’re going to teach you how.

There are several home dry cleaners on the market that you can buy and use in combination with your home dryer. All you have to do is pick a kit up from the store, pre-treat your stains with the stain remover, toss your delicates into the dry cleaning bag, put a few dry cleaning cloths in, and put the bag in the dryer for 15 to 30 minutes. When they come out, they’ll be good as new!

This goes for everything from casual shirts to suits and slacks. Just be careful not to stick too many clothing items into the bag — 1 to 4 should be more than enough.

This, however, is not how you clean at leather jacket.

Can I dry clean my leather jacket at home? 

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Cleaning your expensive leather jacket can be both tough and stressful. Everyone needs that crucial leather jacket that turns them from mundane to awesome, which is why they’re so costly.

I understand completely that you may be so worried about cleaning correctly that you send it to the dry cleaners every single time you think it needs a little refresher, but why not save yourself a bit of money and do it yourself? It’s easy.

To clean leather, all you have to do is combine warm water and dish soap into a bowl. Dip a cloth into the solution and gently wipe the areas you’d like to clean. If that doesn’t work, you can combine one part vinegar and one part water as a second clean. Then dry the jacket with a towel.

What dry cleaning apps are out there?

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If you need dry cleaning on the go, there are plenty of apps to choose from. These apps are typically starter companies that are eager to earn your business, which means that prices are competitive.

Here are a few of the most popular:

Cleanly: Cleanly costs just $1.50 per pound for wash and fold, but dry cleaning prices vary by item. They have a $20 minimum and you can get your clothes as quickly as 24 hours later for wash and fold, or 36 hours later for dry cleaning.

FlyCleaners: We recently did a whole review on their service. They cost jut $1.40 per pound for wash and fold, and dry cleaning prices vary by item. The turnaround is quick and efficient and it’s the answer to every busy New Yorker’s laundry prayers.

TideSpin: If you live in the Chicago area and want a name you can trust doing your laundry, Tide trained professionals will pick up and do your laundry and dry cleaning for you. The cost is $1.59 per pound. Dry cleaning prices vary, but start at $2.50 for shirts and can go all the way up to $25.

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