Hand washing suits.

Discussion in 'Suits' started by reetpleat, Dec 7, 2007.

  1. reetpleat

    reetpleat Call Me a Cab

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    SO, I am an old hand at cleaning and taking care of suits. I of course do not get suit jackets wet if I can help it. I have done it once when I had one of those stinky armpit ones that I could just not get clean otherwise. Plus, it iwas not such a fine suit that I was that worried about it. The wool seems to be okay, but the lining and such seemed to be bunched up. Pressing does not seem enough, but I might take an iron to it for more serious pressing.

    But my question is concerning my cream gaberdine slacks. ANy problem with giving them a mild hand wash. It seems like the fabric should be find and there is no lining fabrics to worry about as in a suit.

    Anyone else have experience on jackets and pants in wather, or any thoughts. I am talking thirties and forties wool.
     
  2. dakotanorth

    dakotanorth Practically Family

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    Hand washing you say?

    I've hand-washed about everything at some point! Including suits.... one suit smelled like stout beer so I figured some water might help "sober it up."

    Washing light gabardine slacks:
    Are they wool? Rayon? Or unknown/blend?
    If you wash the pants, they won't really _shrink_ per say, but they will _tighten_ just a touch. You'll lose, oh, 1/2" in the waist, 1/2" in length, roughly. When you press and iron them you can get it back though, especially if they are rayon.

    Wash them cool/cold, rinse cool, use Woolite or something similar. I also rinse with Febreeze for the wash (dark blue bottle, $8 a quart!) to freshen them up and help remove soap. Drip dry in the tub- when you hang them, try to straighten them along the creases- this will help maintain the shape and save you a lot of grief when you press them.

    If you press them yourself, either A. use a pressing cloth or B. press them inside out. Or both. Don't forget to press the pockets and waistband!
     
  3. scotrace

    scotrace Head Bartender Staff Member

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    I thought it was about some kind of suit specially designed to be donned when stepping to the sink to wash ones hands. :)
     
  4. cookie

    cookie I'll Lock Up

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    Washing suits

    I have nice cream linen suit which I think is probably closer to hemp than linen. Its still okay but starting to get a certain discolouration like a sort of brown tinge in some parts . I don't know why - it is drycleaned regularly. It is made in the modern style with minimal fusing so I would like to oxyclean it.

    Any suggestions if this is possible? Please advise.:eusa_doh: :eusa_doh:
     
  5. J. M. Stovall

    J. M. Stovall Call Me a Cab

    DO NOT USE OXYCLEAN ON WOOL . It's designed to break down animal based proteins. Don't use it on silk either, there are some cleaning threads that go into great detail on this. Use only Borax and for spot cleaning Fels Naptha soap. Fels Naptha comes in a bar, and based on advise from loungers I've even grated it into the wash too. Doing these together will seriously get out just about anything, no mater how old the stain is.
     
  6. J. M. Stovall

    J. M. Stovall Call Me a Cab

    And don't use Woolite either. It's just not a very good cleaner according to the experts. I'll try to find the thread on cleaning vintage.
     
  7. Choeki

    Choeki Familiar Face

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    Location:
    Elgin, IL
    Having worked in a dry cleaning establishment for a summer, I learned that it's a very bad idea to dry clean clothes regularly if you're using a typical dry cleaning establishment that uses regular cleaning chemicals. Since the chemicals are usually too harsh once a fluid change is made or simply filthy near the end of a fluid cycle, it's just too hard to determine the best time to have your cleaning done since most dry cleaning establishments don't publicly announce their fluid change cycles. The exceptions to this of course are those dry cleaning establishments that use liquid nitrogen or even specially conceived water based cleaning machines (as they do in Japan). Nevertheless, too many turns at the dry cleaner will wear out a set of clothing fairly quickly by discoloring and damaging the material.

    I've been out of the US for a bit, so my cleaning methods at home nearly been completely written over with Japanese methods and solutions. However, this is a good thing in some ways since the Japanese method of home laundry is a bit old fashioned, with modern formulations of cleaning agents. For example, nearly all Japanese washing machines have a special "dry" feature that exists to be used with a specially formulated water soluble dry cleaning agent that is sold in all supermarkets. Pretty much all wool and cashmere clothing in Japan has the symbol for the home dry cleaning feature printed on the tags - this includes hats. This stuff isn't Woolite though - it's similar in appearance but works a little differently. For suit jackets, they recommend ironing directly out of the end of the wash cycle, then hanging it up to dry. Since clothes dryer appliances are relatively rare in Japanese homes, nearly everyone line dries outside or indoor (I do mine indoors as the air in my town stinks up clothes). I actually have a Japanese clothes cleaning system guide in the works (primarily home based techniques for stiff starch shirts and dry cleaning suits), so I'll post on the topic at length when I get all the photos done...
     
  8. I washed a 1920s wool suit in oxyclean with no negative effects. No shrinkage even. I'd taken this suit to 3 dry cleaners, and they were all worse than useless. "It can't be done", they say. You can't hand wash wool.

    pffffffft, yes you can. They're just too lazy to do it.

    bk
     
  9. Micawber

    Micawber A-List Customer

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    Great Britain.
    Over the years I have also carefully handwashed several all wool suits including bespoke outfits from Savile Row houses. Cool water, careful handling, drying and pressing have resulted in some good results.
     
  10. Alan Eardley

    Alan Eardley One Too Many

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    Whoever says you can't wash wool has either never had a grandmother (they did it all the time) or seen a wet sheep. I mean, did you ever see a sheep shrink through being in the rain? Or a grandmother for that matter...

    Alan
     
  11. Micawber

    Micawber A-List Customer

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    384
    Location:
    Great Britain.
    My grandmother shrank quite a bit as she got older, I don't think it was the rain either.
     
  12. Feng_Li

    Feng_Li A-List Customer

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    I would be very interested to see that.
     
  13. Feng_Li

    Feng_Li A-List Customer

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    Sheep don't go in the dryer afterward, silly!
     
  14. dakotanorth

    dakotanorth Practically Family

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    Location:
    Camarillo, CA
    The mystery of drycleaning? Bah!!

    Ok, bear with me, it's been a while and my chemistry knowledge is fading away.
    Drycleaning in essence is just "Washing" a garment with a solution that is NOT water based. In short it is a non-polar solvent I do believe.
    The reason you have your suit drycleaned but it keeps getting discoloration? Well, in addition to what other people said about the cleaning fluid NOT being changed that often, you are most likely trying to get water-based stains/buildups out by using a non-waterbased solution. In chemistry the old addage is "Likes dissolve likes"- you can't use water to clean out oil-based paint for example.
    It's the same with clothing! Sweat, beer, rainwater rings, lemonade, etc etc are water-based. The drycleaning may help remove the pigments (the "dyes" found in food) but not always.
    The biggest advantage to drycleaning is- since you didn't wash the suit in water, the wool didn't relax and reshape itself. You may need to touch it up, but it doesn't really need reshaping.
    (Hint: If you're very daring, you can reshape a suit and help customize its fit to your body by handwashing it and pressing/ironing it.)
    Once again, I've handwashed every suit I've owned. The biggest mystery is, how did they get the crease to stay put even when I wash it?? [huh]
     
  15. Alan Eardley

    Alan Eardley One Too Many

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    You didn't tumble dry her, did you????

    Alan
     
    ChrisB likes this.
  16. reetpleat

    reetpleat Call Me a Cab

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    Well, it stands to reason that you can water wash wool. I mean, wool has been used for many centuries, and dry cleaning has only been around for how long?

    On the other hand, my big concern is shrinkage. I mean, what if the water is cold and someone sees you at just the wrong moment iwthout understanding that there is bound to be some shrinkage?
     
  17. Parabellum

    Parabellum New in Town

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Washington, DC
    If the suit in question in particularly dear to you, I would strongly recommend looking at a relatively new 'dry cleaning' technology that employs liquid carbon dioxide (CO2). Compared to other methods such as traditional 'perc' or even aqueous or silicone solution methods, liquid CO2 cleaning results in the least shrinkage, discoloration and other forms of collateral damage.


    Back to point. If you wish to explore hand-washing, then keep some of these tips in mind:

    1. Use cold water and try to use as mild a detergent or soap as possible. I don't know why some have objected to Woolite as it seems to work fine.

    2. Try and minimize both immersion time and also - more importantly - agitation. Agitation, apparently, not heat can contribute the most to fabric shrinkage.

    3. I don't know if the science is sound, but adding some fabric softener to the rinse - especially if the suit has been 'dry cleaned' out - helps restore softness to the wool. Too much though and you risk side-effects like residue.
     
  18. Vintage Betty

    Vintage Betty My Mail is Forwarded Here

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  19. Jovan

    Jovan Suspended

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    I used to think my friend was crazy when he suggested hand washing wool trousers one time. Based on the number of people here who have done it successfully... I think there's a certain truth to it. :)

    Thanks for the info, as usual.
     

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