If you are in need of George's dry cleaning services in Sydney, you can visit his website here: http://centennialdrycleaners.com.au/
George, how do I care for my woollen suit?
Suits and sports jackets are an important part of any mans wardrobe and they often make a lasting impression. Each fabric, style and shape is distinctive and requires individual attention. Wool suit fabric is popular due to its durability, breathability, and ease of wear. Wool quality is judged by the thinness of the wool fibre, measured in microns (one micron is one-millionth of a meter). The thinner the fibre the more desirable, comfortable, and expensive the fabric and the best quality wool comes from Merino sheep. Good grades are Super 100 to Super 150’s which has a tighter weave and limits creasing and wrinkles.
Mens suits are graded 1 to 6, according to the number of hand operations used to create the final product. 1 is all machine made and 6 is made entirely by hand, such as 'bespoke' or 'custom made' suits. The main two types of wool suit fabric are woollen and worsted, the difference is in whether the fibres are combed for smoothness. Woollens are not combed, leaving a thick, plush pile. Worsteds are combed making them smooth and lighter in weight. The heavier woollen suits tend to wear better and are not as prone to small nicks and scratches etc,
Regarding washing suits at home once again always stick to the manufacturers care label instructions. Some unlined cotton suits may be gentle machine washed depending on the colour. Light colours should be fine but dry cleaning a black or navy cotton suit at a quality dry cleaner will always keep the colour longer.
As to how often should you dry clean your suit depends on many things such as how often you wear it, your environment, how long is it worn for, and whether it gets stained.
For example you may get 6 or 8 general wears out of your work suits as a general guideline but if you go to a dance club and perspire all night leaving the body salts etc in the fibre you should dry clean it within a few days. Also heavy rain or beverage spillages should be removed quickly.
There is a misconception that regular dry cleaning ruins garments, this is only true if the dry cleaner does not use the appropriate solvent, process or program, or does not finish the garment with the appropriate technique and pressing equipment. It is important for your dry cleaner to regularly change the cloth press pads to prevent the unsightly shine you may see on dark coloured worsted suits.
What sort of stains can I try and remove at home by spotting?
The subject of spotting stains at home can open a huge ‘can of worms’. There are people and websites that specialise only in this subject. As a general rule the heavier fabrics and lighter colours are less susceptible to damage than the delicate darker fabrics. It also depends on the stain. Stay with me here. For example a small coffee stain may be blotted out of a wool jacket with a tiny amount of soap and warm water and a white cloth. However, to use the same method on a red or navy silk tie or shirt may result in colour loss. A gentle rub on a white or cream cotton shirt or trouser will not result in colour loss as there is no real colour to lose.
Without getting too technical, too safely treat stains on your own, you must first recognize and understand the difference between water-based and oil based stains.
Most water based stains like coffee, wine, milk, perspiration have a clear outline around the stain.
Most oil-based stains like salad dressings, fries, food and car grease and most make-up are absorbed into the fabric, have no outline and look dark and blotchy.
Most water based stains come out with detergent and water but you may need to pre-treat some difficult stains like red wine, fruit, or tomato based stains.
Some oil stains can be removed at home on washable clothes with a pre-treatment like Preen but better garments should be left for a skilled dry cleaner.
I have often been in a restaurant and seen guys spill food or drink on their tie and they usually dip their napkin in water and start rubbing. This is just wrong. You can blot the stain with a dry clean napkin but never rub. This breaks fibres, loses sheen, fades the colour, and can even bleed dies. Further, rubbing water on an oily type stain can ‘set’ the stain and limit further removal by your dry cleaner.
Finally, every time you tighten the knot or touch your tie or bow tie, you deposit oils and soil from your hands onto the fabric. You should wash your hands before putting on and removing your ties, and hand or roll them to allow the wrinkles to fall out.
How do I care for my wool and cashmere jumpers/ pullovers?
If a new jumper is dry cleaned in a short gentle cycle in a net bag or hand washed the proper way it should not lose its sheen or lustre. There may be the odd exception as some manufactures use a large amount of sizing that may come out in its first clean, but this is rare. The best way to hand wash a good quality jumper is to use baby shampoo or a cashmere wash like Woolite. Use sparingly and dissolve completely in cool to lukewarm water. Press suds through the garment gently without wringing or twisting and soak for 3 to 5 minutes. Dry flat on a towel away from heaters or direct sun.
If there are any stains or the jumper has been pulled out of shape I would recommend dry cleaning as they have the benefit of being able to re-bloch it on a steam press.
Pilling is caused by abrasion; the more friction to which an area of the fabric, the more likely it will pill. Contributing factors include the weave (looser weaves tend to pill more), the length of the fibres (shorter ones pill more; cheaper wool/cashmere is made from shorter staples), the strength of the fibres (softer wool is made from thinner fibres, so finer wool may pill more than coarse), and the blend (blends generally pill more than non blends because the different fibres can abrade and separate).
The colour should not have anything to do with it, but it’s possible that some dye treatments could weaken the fibres more than others. Spending more often buys you better fabric that’s less prone to pilling, but not always.
Pilling usually results from rubbing against upholstered furniture or car seats and against your arms when you walk. You can ‘shave’ off pills – with a disposable razor or battery operated shaver – but remember that pills contain yarns. When you remove pills you are also removing yarns and thinning the fabric. If you do shave pills, be careful of snagging and go slowly.