How to Clean a Suit Jacket at Home

How to clean a suit jacket at home without dry cleaning

Suit jackets can experience a lot of wear and tear. For some individuals, they’re worn every single day through all kinds of weather, and wind up being cleaned with harsh chemicals at a dry cleaner. With the average business person spending between “$500 and $1,500 each year on dry cleaning services,” not only does the fabric of your suit jacket start to suffer, but your bank account, too. Washing a suit jacket at home is not as hard as it seems. Let’s walk through how to clean a suit jacket without dry cleaning. 

Essential Tools to Clean a Suit Jacket at Home:

Why Wash a Suit Jacket at Home

Not only can dry cleaning become a financial burden to consumers, it can also be a burden on our environment and the health of dry cleaning workers. Perchloroethylene, a synthetic chemical substance known as PERC, is commonly used in dry cleaning formulas. Long-term exposure to PERC has been linked to several forms of cancer, as well as damage to the central nervous system, kidneys, liver, lungs, and possibly the reproductive system. Even with some ventilation, PERC can build up and become a long-term ambient toxin within the workplace.

PERC has also become an environmental toxin, as it can leach into the air, soil, and water when spilled, which endangers local plant and animal life. While diverse alternatives to PERC are becoming more readily available, many of them don’t seem much safer.

In addition the chemical hurdles associated with dry cleaning, the heavy use of plastic hangers and plastic covers creates unnecessary waste. When you wash your suit jacket at home, you’re able to use your own wooden hangers and cloth garment bag—thereby reducing your use of plastic altogether. 

How to Clean a Suit Jacket at Home

Contrary to popular belief (and the tag inside), you can wash a suit jacket at home. With the right tools and materials, you’ll be well on your way to saving money and time. 

What You’ll Need:

Step 1: Read the Label

“Dry Clean Only” labels are often more of a precaution than anything else. If your suit is made out of wool, silk, cotton or linen but is labelled as “Dry Clean Only,” you can wash it at home.

Step 2: Fold Your Jacket

First, turn your jacket inside out so the liner is exposed. Fold in the arms then roll your jacket from the bottom to the top as tightly as possible. When you roll your garment, you’re able to minimize how much they move in the wash, which prevents felting. 

Step 3: Wash

Place your rolled suit jacket into a mesh washing bag and load it into your washer. Add an appropriate amount of gentle detergent to your washing machine, then select a cold, delicate or express cycle.

Top Rated Gentle Laundry Detergents:

Step 4: Dry

Once the washing machine cycle is complete, immediately remove your suit jacket and dry on a flat drying rack to maintain its natural shape and structure. 

How to Remove Stains from a Suit Jacket

If your jacket gets stained, your best bet is to treat it ASAP. For most stains, it goes a long way to immediately remove your jacket and blot or rinse the stain under water. 

If it’s an oil stain at a restaurant, see if you can ask for baking soda or cornstarch. This will absorb most of the oil in your suit fabric. Let it sit for 10+ minutes before shaking off, then you can spot treat it with a small amount of dish soap and water. 

On-the-Go Stain Removal Products:

  1. Grandma’s Secret Spot Remover – Great on oil, ink, and makeup stains
  2. Mini Tide Pen – Great on tea, coffee, wine, and other food stains
  3. Shout Wipe & Go – Easily fit one in the smallest of bags or a few in the car to handle kid stains.
  4. Dryel Pen – Helpful if you’re wearing dry clean only fabrics 

Eco-Friendly On-the-Go Stain Removal Products:

  1. Diluted Dish Soap (for oil-based stains)
  2. Distilled White Vinegar (for flushing out coffee, wine, or other food stains)
  3. Isopropyl Alcohol (for ink-based stains)
  4. Hydrogen Peroxide (for persistent stains)

For more stain removal tips, read this ultimate guide to stain removal.

How to Steam a Suit Jacket

If your suit jacket has developed some wrinkles after washing, avoid ironing. Why? The excess heat and pressure can distort the canvas inside, which will damage your garment. A steamer is more gentle but just as effective. There are a few things to keep in mind when steaming:

  • You will steam your suit jacket in sections, pulling the fabric taut before pressing the steamer head to the fabric. 
  • Slowly move the steamer in an up-and-down motion. 
  • You will likely need to focus on the elbows, the back of the jacket, and maybe a few small spots on the front of the jacket. 
  • Be careful not to over-steam. Any excessive amount of steam around the seams can cause them to lose their shape.

Recommended Steamers for Suit Jackets:

With all of that said, if you are in a pinch and nowhere near a steamer, it’s worth trying a wrinkle release spray.

How to Store a Suit Jacket

The best way to store a suit is to hang it somewhere cool, dry, and away from sunlight. Use a widespread, sturdy wooden hanger with rounded edges to hold the shape of your suit jacket. Then, cover it with a cloth garment bag. This will protect it from moths, mildew, and dust. And if you’re storing multiple suits or other garments together, give them some space. When garments are crammed together, they don’t ventilate as well.

Recommended Suit Jacket Hangers:

Top Rated Garment Bags:

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One Comment

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this! I thought I ruined my suit coat and didn’t have time to get it into a dry cleaner. I actually had a carpet cleaner over to get out some pet stains and I asked him if he thought your tips would work. He said that while he couldn’t guarantee anything, he felt extremely confident that they would. I can’t thank you enough for sharing and can attest that your tips will work to get and keep a suit coat clean.

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