Most people don't like doing laundry, and the option of using a dry cleaner puts a dent in your bank account. When it comes to caring for suits and shirts, it can be even more annoying. But, there are some relatively easy - and affordable - solutions out there for the budget conscious individual.
1. USE SUIT HANGERS
Suit hangers (a.k.a. U-shaped/curved hangers) are really good for hanging suits, jackets and blazers and they do not cost a fortune. Thicker, and with rounded sides, they help retain the shoulder shape of the jacket. Because they are curved, they also take up more space; while this may be a nuisance for those who have a cluttered closet, the extra space is meant to give the suit more air to breathe and fall back into its original shape.
2. AVOID DRY CLEANING IF YOU CAN
This isn't just to protect your wallet. Dry cleaning can be a very tough, rigorous process and it uses lots of chemicals which damage your cloth fibres over time. It weakens the fabric and breaks it down. The tumbling that is done at most dry cleaners is so aggressive that machines actually have a button catcher to collect all the buttons that may fall off during the process. The buttons caught are collected and then resewn onto a customer's garment, leaving customer clueless of what happened. Reducing or avoiding the dry cleaners saves you on dry cleaning bills and increases the longevity of your suit.
|Avoid if possible.|
3. DON'T STUFF YOUR POCKETS
Lots of suits come with the pockets sewn shut, mostly because the pockets are there for aesthetics. I've always disliked this because pockets are really useful, so what's the point in having one if it's sewn shut? It's completely fine to use suit pockets as long as they aren't stuffed or outstretched; doing so can affect the way the suit looks and over time it can cause permanent creases or splits. Clean out your wallet so that it doesn't get too bulky; you could even try a slimmer wallet to restrict the clutter.
|Does your wallet look like this?|
4. DON'T SIT FOR LONG PERIODS WHILE WEARING YOUR JACKET
Sitting in a suit jacket doesn't cause any damage, but if you sit for long periods of time it can cause creases that are harder to get out, which could lead to higher dry cleaning bills. A mild crease from wearing a suit jacket will usually resolve itself if hung up; gravity pulls the fabric downwards and the creases diminish. But, if you sit in an office chair with your jacket on for the entire day, the creases will be a lot harder to get out, especially in the back. So, if you can, take your jacket off while you're sitting; try hanging it up in a closet or on the back of a chair.
5. GET A FABRIC STEAMER
By far the most significant cost saver. A household fabric steamer can save you a lot of money, and the upfront cost could be as low as $50-$60, depending on what you buy. A decent steamer doesn't take up much space in a home and will be able to get out wrinkles within a few minutes. I purchased an upright steamer from a retailer for about $60 including tax and it does the trick for most jackets and pants. Considering that a trip to the dry cleaners could cost me the same amount, a household fabric steamer really saves money in the long run.
One thing I will note about my $60 fabric steamer: it doesn't do a good job on shirts. Perhaps if I splurged on a better steamer (FYI I've heard that the J-2000 is amazing, costing about $300 CDN) I wouldn't have this problem. But even at $300, you'd probably make back the savings within a year or two (depending on how often you use the dry cleaners).