How Long Does It Take To Dry Clean a Suit?

Many of us are dry cleaning illiterate. To me, at least, it seems like when you hand a suit over to the attendant, it disappears behind a curtain and emerges clean without coming into contact with water. Still, you may need that two-piece back pronto, so how long does it take to dry clean a suit? 

It takes two to three days to dry clean a suit. This duration accounts for delays like the dry cleaning company needing to transport your suit to branches with specialized equipment or your suit having to wait because there’s a large backlog of other clothes. 

In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about how long you need to wait for the dry cleaners to wash your suit. We’ll also explore related topics like the merits and demerits of dry cleaning a suit and why some suits should be dry cleaned exclusively.

How Long Does It Take To Dry Clean a Suit?

It takes two to three days to dry clean a suit.

There are several reasons why dry cleaning waiting times are significantly longer than standard house laundry times:

  • The specialized equipment needed to launder your suit may be unavailable at your local dry cleaner. As a result, they may take it to a larger branch where all the big, expensive machinery is stored to give your suit the treatment it deserves.
  • Your local dry cleaner often has piles of clothes waiting to be laundered. According to IBISWorld, there are currently 27,745 dry cleaners in the US, a decline of 3.9% from 2021. This number is way below those necessary to serve the millions of Americans who need dry cleaning services, so delays are the rule rather than an exception.
  • Some suits have intricate or delicate components that require special attention during the laundering process. 
  • If you’ve requested specific repairs or stain removal to be done on your suit, these services will extend your waiting time to up to 3 days.

Consider these factors as you plan when to wear your suit.

Still not convinced that two to three days is a short time? Here’s a brief list of waiting periods for other items commonly taken to the dry cleaners:

  • Dress shirts and dress trousers: 1 to 2 days
  • Hats, gloves, coats, and jackets: 2 to 3 days
  • Prom gowns and other formal dresses: 4 days
  • Tuxedos: 4 to 7 days
  • Wedding dresses, suede, fur, or leather clothes: 1 to 2 weeks
  • Beddings, linen, and drapery: 4 to 7 days.

Does Dry Cleaning Ruin Suits?

The mystery of the dry cleaning process extends from the waiting times to what makes it “dry” in the first place. While many suit labels specify that they can only be dry cleaned, is there any possibility that dry cleaning can ruin a suit?

Dry cleaning doesn’t ruin suits. The chemical solvent applied on clothes to facilitate the dry-cleaning process is safer for fabric use than usual soap and water. However, to extend your suit’s life, it’s advisable to dry clean it at most once a month.

To help understand why it’s safe, below is a breakdown of the dry-cleaning process. 

  1. Clothes are sorted and placed into their respective machines, each with a chemical solvent tailor-made for dry cleaning a particular fabric.
  2. The machine swirls methodically, causing the solvent to interact with the fabric and loosen any underlying dirt without damaging, stretching, or shrinking the clothing.
  3. The dirty solvent drains away, and a new wash begins, repeating step 2 above in a dry “rinse” cycle.

This magical solvent preserves your suit’s shape and texture while protecting it from heat and water damage. It also expertly shimmies under individual threads to expel dirt that would otherwise stay there indefinitely and act as a damaging abrasive to your suit later on.

Speaking of unconventional ways of doing laundry, have you ever wondered if you can wash clothes without a detergent? I dove into this question in this article.

Here are some things you should do to keep your suit looking as good as new after several visits to the dry cleaner:

  • Hand in all the pieces of your suit whenever you want it to be dry-cleaned. While the process is largely fabric-preserving, numerous rounds in the solvent will strip some of the colors from your suit. This gradual degradation is tolerable if all the suit pieces are similarly less vibrant.
  • Dry clean infrequently. Your dry cleaner should only treat your suit once a month at most. Anything more frequent will accelerate the deterioration of your suit’s treasured fabric.

Do Suits Shrink When Dry-Cleaned?

Suits are typically significantly costly. It’s therefore understandable that you’d be worried about your valuable outfit getting damaged during the dry cleaning process, mainly through shrinkage.

Suits don’t shrink when dry cleaned. Water is the agent that instigates shrinkage in fabrics like silk, cotton, and wool. Since the cleaning agent in dry cleaning is a liquid-free chemical solvent, your precious suit won’t shrink.

Is Dry Cleaning a Suit Worth It?

Perhaps you’re sold on the benefits of dry cleaning your suit. But can’t you just quickly do it yourself at home? Is it worth making the bimonthly trip to the dry cleaner?

Dry cleaning a suit is worth it because the technique maintains the shape and feel of your suit. The chemical solvent also coats the garment in an invisible shield that protects it from heat and water damage down the line. It does all this while practically massaging each thread of your suit.

Why Are Suits Dry Clean Only?

Suits are dry clean only because dry cleaning cleans suits while protecting their fabrics. The method uses a chemical solvent that coats the suit in an invisible shield that protects it from heat and water damage down the line. Dry cleaning also helps a suit retain its shape and feel.

Final Thoughts

I hope I’ve put your mind at ease about taking your suit to the dry cleaner. 

Dry cleaning is the safest way to get your suit back to its spick and span state. Although you’ll have to wait three days for it to get the pampering it needs, it’s worth it because of the additional years of wear you’ll get from the outfit.

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