Dry clean only when necessary

Dry clean only when necessary

Q. I cannot afford to send clothes out to the dry cleaners very often. Mostly I use them for completely wrinkled shirts and stained wool suits. Can you tell me which clothes absolutely need dry cleaning rather than washing? I remember your writing that people use cleaners too much, so I trust you won’t just say, “find the money and the time.”

A. You are right, I have said that people (especially men) make the mistake of having their clothes dry cleaned too often. Dry cleaning wools before they need it can damage the fabric and shorten the garment’s life span. Often, for a garment that is not soiled, but only wrinkled, a professional pressing rather than cleaning-and-pressing, would work nicely. Not only is this less expensive, but it is also less harmful to your clothes.

Certainly, I am not suggesting that you should be less than meticulous, but it’s important to remember that clothes made of natural fibers do not thrive on an excess of dry-cleaning fluids. When you dress for business each day, you shower, use deodorant, put clean underwear on your clean body and then a clean shirt on top of that. Over all these clean clothes, you wear a suit or sports jacket. Under normal circumstances, barring spots, your suit will remain clean and fresh. If you air it out after each wearing, occasionally give it a light brushing, and don’t wear it two days consecutively, there is no need for frequent dry cleaning.

On the other hand, spots and stains can ruin your clothes and your appearance. By following these hints, a couple of dry cleanings of your wools during a season should be enough.
• If you own several suits, you can let them “rest” a few days between wearings. Natural fibers are resilient. A good wool suit will “hang out” and come back to shape.
• Some spots can be removed simply by using a quality do-it-yourself stain remover, such as K2r. If that fails to be effective, you need the services of a real pro. Here is where I do not believe in cutting corners. Seek out the best professional dry cleaners you can find; then trust them with your favorite garments.
• Try to use dry cleaners that do not send the garments out, ones that do all their own work in-house. That way, clothes are much less likely to get lost.
• Really good cleaners know what they are doing; still, it helps to give them as much information as possible. Tell them what caused the stain. They will treat it effectively, then clean and press your garment so it comes back looking great.
• If you spill food or drink on a wool or cotton garment, first, gently blot with clean water on a clean, damp cloth. Second, add a bit of soap to the cloth. Do not scrub; just blot. It may do the job.
• Pay attention to the fabric. Anything that is silk, such as a fine scarf or a special robe, should not be touched with water. Send it to the dry cleaner.

Most good dry cleaners also launder cotton shirts. If your shirts are not the no-iron type, send them out to be laundered professionally. Yes, top-notch cleaners do charge more than your local establishment, but the few extra dollars pay off quickly when your suits continue to look new and your shirts come back ironed perfectly and without broken buttons or newly frayed collars.

Since you mentioned not having the time to go often, keep in mind that almost every fine cleaner picks up and delivers.

Please send your questions on men’s dress and grooming to MALE CALL: Lois.Fenton@prodigy.net

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