Laundry care can usually be associated with more feminine items when we talk about hand washing. The truth is, fibers that require special attention can be found in both men’s and women’s wear. There is the stereotype that men don’t quite care enough to separate and care for laundry the way that women do. We’d like to break down that cliché and give some tips on how to care for items most commonly found in a man’s wardrobe. With menswear staples such as suits, there can be a big financial investment placed in maintaining a working wardrobe. All of the elements that make up an outfit can add up quite quickly, and because of this it’s worth it to protect your investment. By taking special care in the laundering of your items, they will last and look new for longer, which in turn means you save money.
Recognizing and educating yourself about the type of fiber and the care it requires is the first step in deciding how to clean your items. Different blends will require different treatment. The following is a generalized list of common fibers found in menswear and how to treat them.
The most familiar fiber found in any wardrobe is most likely cotton. From dress shirts to neckties, this fiber will be commonplace in any man’s wardrobe. The big issue with cotton is shrinkage. Avoid washing in hot temperature waters and high heat dryer settings. When possible, hand wash or use gentle cycle to launder cotton in cool temperatures. Line dry or lay flat to dry to avoid any stretching of the material. Using our Flatter starch-free smoothing spray to steam your cotton dress shirts is also a great idea. Starch will wear out your clothes prematurely by breaking down fibers over time. Some great instructions on how to properly clean a cotton dress shirt can be found on Proper Cloth which gives step by step details.
As a favorite fiber for winter wear, wool can be found in suits, ties, sweaters and coats. For larger, more complex items like wool suits, taking them to a professional cleaner is recommended. For things like sweaters and pocket squares, cleaning at home can be accomplished with Soak. Check for fiber content when deciding how to care for an item and if it has any interfacing, be sure to only spot clean. For washing wool, ensure that the water is cold to avoid any shrinkage. Hand wash wool items in a basin filled with cool water with Soak, and let sit for 15 minutes. Press out any excess moisture by using a dry towel to gently roll up the wool item. Lay the item flat to dry and reshape to avoid any distortion. To simply refresh a wool item, use Flatter spray and a steamer with your garment turned inside out. For more tips on washing sweaters, check out this Real Men Real Style article.
Caring for silk can be a tricky process. Depending on the colorfastness and quality of the material, you need to take great care in cleaning silk items. Once material inspection shows there is no interfacing and colorfastness has been determined, immerse silk in a basin of lukewarm water and Soak. Let it sit for 15 minutes, no agitation necessary, and remove from the basin while gently squeezing out excess water. Do not wring or twist the fabric. Use a dry towel to roll up and squeeze out the remaining moisture from the silk. For things like Silk ties, you can spot clean using Soak, but do not immerse in water. Never put silk in the dryer, rather lay flat to dry. If you’re unsure, always take your garments to a professional cleaner. For tips on spot cleaning silk ties, check out the details on The Tie Bar.
Unfortunately, due to the nature of suits including their interfacing and various materials, at home cleaning is never recommended. Professional cleaning and storage of suits is required to maintain them, as well as regular brushing and servicing at the tailors. Avoid dry cleaning your suits as this can wear them down quickly, as well as wearing them on consecutive days. Rotating use and giving them a chance to breathe will help prolong their life. Spot cleaning can definitely be accomplished when faced with an emergency situation, like a small food stain. Depending on the material and colorfastness of the suit, use a q-tip dipped in Soak to rub out the fresh stain. Then using the other side of the cotton swab, with just water, clean off the rest of the stain and soap. If that isn’t enough, take your suit in to be cleaned professionally. Check out this article on The Art of Manliness for more tips on keeping your suits looking new.
If you have any more questions or concerns on how to properly care for your menswear items, feel free to leave a comment below. Remember to always read the care label inside the garment and if you’re unsure, take it to a professional cleaners to avoid any mishaps. Our Soak School section of the site will soon have more tips and tricks of laundry care, including menswear.