Poll: How often do you dryclean suits?

how-often-to-dryclean-womens-suitsWomen’s suits: No one really knows how often to dry clean them. For men, the answer that is given time and time again is the same: Rarely. Once a season, maybe. The less the better. But then again, men’s suits fit differently than women’s, and the things men wear beneath a suit (the long-sleeved shirt, the undershirt, the boxers) are very different than things a woman wears beneath hers — our skin is in contact more with the suit. So let’s take a poll: how often do you dryclean? (Photo by uncleboatshoes, courtesy of Flickr.)

Except! Before we get to the poll, we’d like to pass along this advice from a recent Esquire article by Dr. Oz (he of Oprah fame):

De-plastic your dry cleaning. Right now. Go into your closet and remove the clothes from their plastic capes, then hang the clothes outside for an hour. There’s a toxin almost all dry cleaners use called perchloroethylene, or perc, and it’s not something you want in your lungs. So either find a dry cleaner who doesn’t use it — some now use liquid CO2 instead, which is good — or air out your duds every time. But not in your bedroom — then the perc inhabits your other clothes.

Ew. OK, poll time:


Our $.02: Dry-cleaning is expensive, bad for the environment, and bad for the clothes. Also, we never seem to be available when the dry cleaners are open to go pick up the darn stuff. Thus: We dry-clean our suits as soon as they begin to smell. For other items in our closet: We have a “first year” rule for cashmere, and will follow the tag directions for the first year of purchase, but after that we’ll give it a whirl in cold water with Woolite. (And, then air dry, of course.) (And we have yet to be disappointed with Woolite.) For dresses, we dry clean only if visibly dirty — unless we’ve borrowed a formal gown from a friend, in which case we dry clean it before returning.

Like our polls?  Click the new link on the sidebar and go take all of our polls, including our very first poll (about whether bare legs are appropriate in the office).

The Secrets of Style [Esquire] (scroll down, it’s there)
Dry Cleaning Your Clothes [Ask Men]


  1. To get a better gage for the poll, you may want to include options like drycleaning after 2 wears, 3 wears, etc. Jumping from 1 wear to 4 wears may not capture all of the data.

  2. OK, so I dry clean way more for the suit being pressed than the cleaning itself. When I have worn the suit a couple of times (or even once) it starts looking wrinkled, and if I try to iron it at home, the fabric starts getting this weird sheen to it. So I think I’m doing something wrong. Would really appreciate if you could comment on this very basic question (I realize this is a really old post).

    Thanks C!

  3. Buy a commercial steamer. Steam suits after wearing, then allow them to thoroughly air out before returning to closet. Dry clean rarely, if ever. I have a closet of St. John suits and hardly ever steam any of them.

    • It depends on what the suit is, as well. The skirt half of a skirt suit needs dry cleaning far more rarely than the trousers of a trouser suit – if you always wear tights with it then it never actually touches your bare skin, whereas trousers can get a little funky.

  4. Christine :

    After purchasing some pricey bras, the saleswoman explained to NEVER use Woolite since it contains trace amounts of what’s essentially bleach and will degrade the fibers of your clothing more quickly. I pre-soak in nice smelling softener, then toss in the delicate cycle with regular laundry soap. Smells much nicer.

  5. I hand-wash natural (wool, silk, cashmere) fiber sweaters using inexpensive clarifying shampoo. Less harsh than other soaps, and leaves the sweaters feeling nice and soft.

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