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How to Avoid a Spot of Bother (Men's Style)


Distinguished Member
Mar 15, 2006
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Some of this information will surprise. It's from "How to Avoid a Spot of Bother," in the Autumn issue of Men's Style, an Australian magazine. The author is Elisabeth King.

Shirley Naylor has been the editor of Australian National Drycleaner and Launderer magazine for more than 18 years, so when she talks about how to keep a suit clean and sharp, it pays to listen. Literally.

"The worst advice a man can follow," says Naylor, "is that a suit only needs to be dry-cleaned twice a year. Even when a guy has two suits and rotates them regularly, daily wear produces a lot of perspiration, body oil and salt. If this residue isn't removed regularly, the build-up will degrade the fabric and the suit will wear out more quickly."

Naylor also advises men to own two pairs of trousers for each suit because they come in for harder wear. "There's no polite way to put this," Naylor says, "but they tend to trap more body odour in the cloth than a jacket does. It's really hard to offer a guesstimate on how often a suit should be cleaned. A light suit obviously needs more trips to the drycleaners but a good general rule is that if a suit looks even slightly saggy or tired it needs to be cleaned. Otherwise, it is impossible to look well turned out."
But she maybe self-servingly doesn't mention steam cleaning.

Less controversial other points appear later in the article.

Consumers often hold drycleaners responsible for stains, shrinkage and tears, and in the US they are right about 25 percent of the time, estimates the Better Business Bureau, an independent group run by the US Chamber of Commerce.

But there's another side to the story. Take red wine stains, for example. They are no big deal for cleaners to remove except if you have pre-treated it with grandma's old remedy - club soda - an at-home stain remover or if you have rubbed the area instead of blotted. You might get the stain out of the fabric but it will never be the same again.

So-called "invisible" stains are another bane of drycleaners' lives. "People frequently put clothes away after a big night out," says Naylor. "This happens a lot with men's formal shirts and suits." If you spill champagne or a soft drink over your clothes and it dries without leaving an obvious mark you're still not in the clear. People can be surprised to discover "new stains" on clothes following dry-cleaning. Always tell the drycleaner what has happened to your garment so it can be pre-treated. Once heated in the cleaning and drying process, the sugars can oxidize and "pop out."

Clothing manufactures estimate mountains of clothes are tossed out every year because they have been ruined in the wash, which is hardly news if a recent British survey is anything to go by - only 5 percent of men and 10 percent of women can successfully identify the international care symbols on common items of clothing.

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