1. Dry-clean sparingly. Not only is it pricey ($15 to $40 per suit), but the chemicals required for the process can also break down the fibers in your clothes, leaving that $800 suit looking, well, saggy. Try to have your suits dry-cleaned no more than once a year; wool sweaters, twice a year.
2. To revive a wrinkled suit, get it steam-pressed instead of dry-cleaned.
4. One item of clothing that definitely needs to be dry-cleaned is a dark-color dress shirt. If laundered, it will fade.
5. All other cotton dress shirts should be laundered. For best results, ask to have them hand-pressed with no starch. Starch shortens a shirt’s lifespan, while machine-pressing can (at the worst) crack buttons or (at best) leave you with a flattened collar.
6. You don’t have to take your cashmere sweater to the cleaners. “The fibers in cashmere respond better to traditional washing,” says GQ‘s creative director, Jim Moore. Machine-wash your sweater on the delicate cycle with cold water. And it might be a good idea to put it in one of those mesh bags your girlfriend uses for her underthings. To dry it, simply lay it flat on a bath towel.
7. Ward off critters. “Moths—that’s what you should be writing about!” says Charles R. Lops, general manager of famed dry cleaner Jeeves of Belgravia in New York City. “They’re a huge problem these days. We recommend cleaning your clothes at the end of the season and keeping them in plastic. If there’s any trace of food on your clothes, they’ll attack them.”
8. Consider “greening” your cleaning. Today most dry cleaners use perchloroethylene (perc), which has been accused of being carcinogenic and bad for the environment. A new crop of “green” dry cleaners use silicon-based solvents instead, which traditional dry cleaners may tell you aren’t as effective. But if you’re concerned about the environment, search out one of the increasing number of green dry cleaners. As far as we’ve been able to tell, they’re just as effective.