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Why is hand washing suits bad.

beltfed80

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I am assuming a similar thread already exists, but I was unable to find it. I was wondering WHY is it not ok to hand wash a suit? I have read again and again in the forums not to do it, but have found no real explanations. I have a wool/cashmere suit that had developed such a shine that it was about to be retired. I read on a few sites that hand washing with a bit of vinegar would get rid of the shine on wool fabric. Since I had nothing to lose, I gave it a try and there was no bleeding of color into the water and the shine was almost completely gone. After pressing, the trousers look fine.
On other websites the only reasons listed for not hand washing wool trousers was the issue of pressing the cuffs, creases, linings and pleats. I do not understand how "dry cleaning" with chemicals is better for the wool than cold water and Woolite. I am sure there is a good reason. I just have not been able to find it anywhere. I am assuming that suits used to be cleaned with water before dry cleaning was invented. So Why is hand washing bad?
By the way, I do not want to start hand washing my suits instead of having them properly cleaned.
 

Twotone

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Give it a try and let us know how it turns out. Please post "before" and "after" photos.
 

beltfed80

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Originally Posted by Twotone
Give it a try and let us know how it turns out. Please post "before" and "after" photos.

I already tried it out a few months ago, but did not take any pictures. The trousers were too shiny to wear and now they are fine, though there is still a bit of shine, they are nothing like they were before the hand washing. I posted this thread in hopes of finding the real reason for "dry clean only".
 

blahman

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And how did the jacket turn out?
 

Maccimus

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I guess most suits are not pre-shrinked.
 

CYstyle

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stubloom has a blog and posts about why to dry clean a suit.

Also just my 2 cents, I rather send it to a reputable dry cleaner for a nominal fee when needed rather than risk me messing up. I live near a really good cleaner, costs about $40 to do entire suit they pick up and deliver. I rotate through 10 suits, will only need to dry clean maybe 1x a year if it gets enough wears. Prices will vary depending on location, but to only save that $40 and risk messing up an expensive suit+alterations is not worth it in my opinion especially if you don't have any training or experience. there's other ways to cut costs with less risk
 

beltfed80

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Originally Posted by Grigory
I've heard it's dangerous for fused suits - glue may just come off.

But does dry cleaning solvent not have the same effect on bonded suits? I have seen some suits that have blisters in the material on the chest area, which I am assuming were caused by dry cleaning and not hand washing.
I have never been behind the counter of a dry cleaning business, so correct me if I am wrong, but I thought that dry cleaning is not dry at all and involves a washing machine type device that uses rapidly evaporating solvent instead of water. I am curious as to what the advantages of solvent are when compared to water. Maybe it does not shrink fabrics as it evaporates or leach colors as much as water and a light detergent.
Hopefully some SF members have a good understanding of the dry cleaning industry and can share some information.
 

stubloom

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My website provides a wealth of information about fine garment care. My daily blog has over 200 posts related to garment care.

Click on the website below, click on "Services" and then click on "Dry Cleaning".

On the issue of dry cleaning a wool suit vs hand washing with Woolite: Let me just say that just because you CAN wash something, doesn't mean you SHOULD wash it. I'd love to know how you think you'll be able to restore that suit to it's original size, texture, drape and smoothness after washing? Particularly given the probability that you don't have 100K+ worth of modern, tensioning equipment in your garage.

As regards removing shine from a wool garment through washing, all I can say is don't believe everything you read on the internet when it comes to garment care. Most of these so-called experts know absolutely nothing about garment care. Their "knowledge" is typically based on something they heard from their neighbor's uncle a few years ago or on the results of some experiment they conducted using their home washer.

Shine is primarily the result of excessive wear or pressing with way too much steam, for way too long with way too much pressure. Any good dry cleaner WHO HAND PRESSES ALL THEIR GARMENTS should be able to remove the shine without any problem. And do so without washing your wool suit.
 

skeen7908

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Does anyone else have any input on this?

Is it really that of an idea to handwash a suit jacket in cold water with some light detergent.
I was thinking of letting it dry, then using a hand steamer to get the wrinkles out

I just generally don't trust dry cleaners to not f*ck things up
 

emptym

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Two reasons that I can think of:
1) The finish of the fabric will change and colors may bleed. For example, if it's wool, it may get fuzzy.
2) A jacket (and often pants too) is made of different materials -- wool, horsehair, cotton and/or linen canvas, rayon, etc. -- all of which will probably shrink at different rates, causing puckering and twisting.

That said, I've tried it twice, both times with thrifted sport coats I wasn't worried about ruining. One was chambray and the other tweed. The chambray puckered and twisted because the rayon lining shrank at a different rate than the outer cotton chambray. Ironing didn't help much, so I had a tailor reattach the lining, and it turned out fine. The tweed jacket was super stiff and felt too slick. I wanted it to be softer and more spongy, and for it to shrink a bit in length. That's exactly what happened. It was an improvement imo. I don't own either jacket anymore. I liked them, but I have a one in one out policy, so I've given them away years ago. IIRC, the tweed was fused and the fusing separated from the jacket, again making it softer in a way I liked. I believe the chanbray jacket was canvased and the canvasing had to be fixed a bit, but not as much as the lining.

To conclude, there's no way I'd wash anything that fit me well or had a finish I liked. But if you have something you don't mind destroying, spending money to have fixed, or changing the fit and finish of, then go for it and take before and after pics. I wish I had.
 

aj805

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I too am afeared of dry cleaners and what they are capable of doing. I would not wash my jackets myself as they are all expensive custom tailored jobs and I'm sure any shrinkage would bother me. So far I have gotten along well with "sponge and press" which is easily done at home on both jackets and trousers.

Since all of my jackets are wholly unstructured and lined only in the sleeves, there is no material in them not on the surface (except between sleeve lining and sleeve) that therefore cannot cleaned by this method, so it may be that this will suffice and I'll never need a full wash or cleaning. If that need should come I will probably do much research to locate a capable and caring dry cleaner.
 

GBR

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Unless a waiter has decanted the soup over you, then surely 'sponge and press' is sufficient?
 

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