How to Care for a Tuxedo

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Whenever we purchase an item of clothing, one of the primary considerations should always be cost-per-wear. The greater likelihood there is that you’ll wear the item often, the more value you’ll get from it, whereas if it ends up languishing in a closet, the result is wasted money and unworn clothing.

This is especially true for special event items like tuxedos. While it might seem unlikely that you’ll ever need to wear one, tuxedos are acceptable attire at a range of evening events, with the exception of certain daytime events, where a light-colored suit may be worn. When you hire a tuxedo, the store tends to take care of the cleaning for you, owning a tuxedo requires proper cleaning and maintenance to ensure you stay looking sharp.

How to Take Care of your Tuxedo

Once a big event is over, it can be tempting to put away your tuxedo out of sight, but this only results in a hurry to clean it next time you need to get it out. Avoid the rush by making sure your suit is clean and repaired ahead of time.

1.    Avoid the Dry Cleaners

This might sound odd, but tuxedos require very little dry cleaning, as chemicals used in the dry-cleaning process have a tendency to dry out the natural moisture in the fabric, shortening its lifespan.

2.    Spot Clean

If there are any minor stains on the fabric, you can spot clean these yourself, but it depends on a few factors. Most dry clean or dry clean only fabrics allow for spot cleaning, but will specify no chlorine bleach. Some exceptions include rayon and cashmere which should be taken straight to the dry cleaners. Ideally, stains should be treated before they have a chance to “set”, but if that’s not possible, you can try to treat older stains. 

3.    Remove Wrinkles

Here you have a couple of options, depending on how much moisture the fabric can take. Pre-treat using a light spritz of water or de-wrinkling pre-treatment while hanging up before smoothing firmly with your hands on a flat surface.  Then, iron or steam according to label instructions (if you don’t have a hand-held steamer you can use a tea-kettle, but beware scalding).

4.    Remove Odors

Steaming or ironing can help to remove odors while killing moth larva or dust mites. Whether it’s perspiration or an unpleasant-smelling cleaning product, the best way to air out any type of clothing is to hang it outside in the fresh air, but where this isn’t possible, you try an odor neutralizing spray.

5.    Brush

Use a quality clothes brush to raise the “nap” of the fabric; this refers to the way the fibers stick up or lay flat on fabric, and can be especially noticeable in textiles like velvet. Suit brushes specifically designed for suits and tuxedos tend to be softer while still removing dirt and dust particles.

Endnote

Some fabrics cause static as they move. You can reduce this by running a dryer sheet over the suit after you remove it from the closet. Hang (rather than fold) your tuxedo, as folding encourages creases to form while hanging it in a closet helps to retain its original shape. Use a wooden hanger, as these tend to be more durable than plastic.