How to Wash and Clean a Suit Jacket

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Can you wash a suit jacket that has a ‘dry clean only’ tag on it? The answer is a huge money saving yes. Learning how to wash a suit jacket will save you from making multiple trips to the dry cleaners.

This four-step process will show you how to conquer washing a suit jacket so you can look your best for a fraction of the cleaning bill cost.

Prepare to Clean your Suit

Before you can begin the steps on how to clean a suit jacket, make sure your suit is compatible for at-home cleaning. Suits made from wool, cotton, and linen are able to be washed.

Suits with special designs, sequins, and are made with rayon or viscose do not fare as well with washing. Always take time to check your labels and know your fabrics before you begin washing ‘dry clean only’ items at home. This will save you from making mistakes and ruining clothes.

For example, a suit made from polyester is going to require a very different cleaning process than one made from suede. 

If you want to know how to clean suit pants, follow the same instructions. It is easy to wash suits together since they have the same fabric and will require the same care.

suits made of wool, linen, and cotton are okay to wash

​4 Step Process of Washing Your Suit Jacket

​Cleaning your suit isn’t hard, but it is entirely necessary. You can save a few bucks by learning how to do it yourself. We share the 4 step process below. After this, make sure to keep up on ​regular steaming to keep the suit in good shape. 

​1. Spot Clean your Suit

To begin cleaning or washing a suit jacket, start by spot cleaning. This step ensures you find and treat each stain on your suit before attempting to wash it.

Take the time to look over your suit. Use a wet bar of wool soap to gently treat the stains you see. Make sure the stains are removed before you wash it. Washing can result in permanently set-in stains.

Also take the time to run the soap under the arm areas, inside the collar, and around the cuffs of the jacket. This will pre-treat these frequently dirty areas.

If you are washing a wool suit, you can also run a suit brush over it to remove any dirt or particles before washing.

The spot cleaning method is great to use when you need to know how to wash a suit jacket by hand. Take the time to spot clean your wool suit regularly to avoid having to machine wash or dry clean it.

Also, by letting your suits have time to hang and recover can lengthen the time between washings.

​2. Wash your Suit

Once you have finished spot cleaning, it is time to learn how to wash a suit jacket.

  • Find a mesh garment bag large enough to fit your suit jacket. Make sure it has room to move around a little inside.
  • Turn your suit inside out and gently place it inside the mesh bag. You will want to wash it alone. Don’t risk any other fabrics bleeding color or adding lint to your jacket.
  • If you are washing the suit pants that match the jacket, you can add them to the wash as well. Make sure to turn the suit pants inside out and place them in a separate mesh bag.
  • Turn the washer onto the delicate wool cycle and add a liquid wool soap. Let the washer run all the way through its cycle. ​
  • Once the washing cycle is complete, gently pull your suit out and get ready for drying.

​3. Hang your Suit

Now that your suit has been washed, you need to dry it. Placing a suit in the dryer is a huge no-no. Even putting it in there to warm it up can damage your suit. ​You don’t want to fold it like a dress shirt either.

To dry your suit, you will want to hang it up. The best hangers for suits are wooden ones like the J.S. Hanger Wood Hangers for Suits. Wood hangers are contoured to follow the natural shape of shoulders.

You can also opt to pad the shoulder and sleeves with tissue paper. This will help your suit maintain its shape while it is drying. Hang the suit pants by their waist band on a hanger that has the pant clips.

4. Steam your Suit

Your newly wetted suit is susceptible to wrinkles, so you will want to finish by steam cleaning your suit. The steam will penetrate the suit fabric and allow it to release and smooth out wrinkles.

You can go ahead and steam the jacket while it is still wet. This will help reduce wrinkling as it dries and will smooth out any wrinkles that have formed while washing.

To steam your suit jacket, you will want to run the steamer over the body of the suit. Make sure you do not tug or pull your suit as you steam. This will cause your suit to be stretched and lose its shape.

Steam the outside of your suit. Then follow up by steaming the inside. Finish by steaming the sleeves. Hold the sleeves out straight while you glide the steamer up and down them lengthwise.

Let your suit relax and continue to dry. You will want to run over it with the steamer again once your suit it completely dry. This will take care of any wrinkles that occurred during drying.

hang your suit jackets before steaming the inside and outside of the garment

Steam the outside and inside of the jacket again. Then continue to let it dry. The steam will cause your suit jacket to be damp again, so it will need a little longer to dry before you can put it away.

If you do not have a steamer handy, can use your bathroom. Simply turn the shower on as hot as it gets and shut the door. Make sure the bathroom fan is off.

The steam from the shower will fill the room and penetrate your suit jacket. This is a great and gentle way to steam delicate fabrics that can’t take direct heat. Let the steam run for about ten minutes. You can repeat the shower steaming if you still see wrinkles. This is just like working with an upright steam iron, only this time with even less effort.

Minimizing Suit Cleaning

​Even though you now know how to clean you suit, jacket, and pants, its probably not something you want to do very often. Here are a few tips that will help you minimize the amount of times you have clean them:

  • When storing your suits at home, use a suit jacket to protect and preserve it from dirt, sun, bugs, etc
  • When traveling, bring a portable steamer to prepare your suit to wear. Hotel irons can damage or dirty your suit.
  • Clean your suits as soon as you get back from a trip, as this helps to keep dirt and stains from setting in.
  • You can still iron your suits, even after steaming them. While a bit overkill at times, ironing brings a crisp look and feel that a steamer can’t.


Now that you know how to wash a suit jacket, you can skip dry cleaning your suit jacket. The most important thing to remember is to always read your labels. They are the roadmap to the best care and protection you can give your clothes.