The following information is taken directly from the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute Bulletin – May/June 2010

Dry cleanable garments are subject to the same soils, staining and odours from wear as you cotton dress, shirts and blouses, washable work separates, khakis, jeans etc. So if you wear a pair of dry cleanable pants with a washable cotton jumper doesn’t it make sense to have the pants cleaned as often as you wash your tops?

Time Worn Method
The amount of time a garment is worn is a commonly used method for determining if a garment needs to be cleaned. But remember, even if a garment is only worn for a few hours, such as to a wedding, odour and staining may still occur. For example, you attend an evening wedding followed by a sit-down reception dinner with dancing:
Wedding: 1 Hour
Reception: 4 Hours
Total Time: 5 Hours

During the five hours, you are fabulous but cosmetics, beverages, perfume and hair spray may soil that expensive silk dress. And if you are like most people and have a really good time at the reception, you will probably break out in a sweat from dancing. After you have returned home, do you hang your dress back in the closet for the next special occasion or take the dress to the cleaners?

Rotation Method

After wearing, clothes may be placed at the back of the closet and rotated forward as other garments are worn. This method keeps consumers from wearing the same garments too close together. In theory, this is a good method but depending on the amount of clothes you have, it may be two or three weeks, or even a month before you wear the garment again. During this time, odours may have sufficiently dissipated from the garment, however, stains have been allowed to set in the fabric and may become permanent.

If clothes are not cleaned regularly, some damage may occur. The following are some problems that may develop with infrequent cleaning.

Perspiration and Body Odours
During use, garments are subject to odour from perspiration, as well as other environmental conditions. Each time the item is worn additional odours may penetrate into the fibres. Airing garments out between wearing may be sufficient to gain one or two extra wearings of a wool or silk top but after three or four wearings, there may be sufficient build-up of body odour to make the top objectionable.

Also, perspiration is known to cause odours but it can also deteriorate fibres. According to Carol Konop, author if The Shirt Book “your shirts should be laundered after each use. Perspiration and aluminum chlorides from deodorant can weaken the fibres if left in the fabric too long. Washing your shirt as soon as possible after wearing can prevent perspiration stains and will lengthen the life of your shirt”

Stains becoming set in the fabric
Let’s be honest, your clothes are going to get stained, by your hand or someone else’s. The longer the stain remains in the fabric, the more difficult it will become to remove them. In some cases, stains that have aged and remain in the fabric for a prolonged period of time can start to degrade the fabric and holes may develop. Also, if the fabric is ironed with stains present, the heat from ironing can contribute to oxidation of the staining. Once oxidized, stain removal becomes much more difficult.

Stains attracting insects
It is a commonly known fact that moths are attracted to wool but did you know that they are also attracted to stains present on fabrics or garments? If a garment is put in storage, or even in a closet while stained, moths, crickets, ants, silverfish and other insects may be attracted to the stain. And if the stain contains sugars, such as from beverages, the fibre type does not matter. When feeding on the stain, the insects also eat the fibres and thin areas or holes may develop.

So what does this mean?
As Morem states in How to Gain the Professional Edge, “your clothing is the first thing others notice about you. Always look your best. Make sure your clothes are clean, pressed, mended and fit well. Look sloppy and you are sloppy. Look like a pro and you are one. It’s that simple. You are what you wear”.

How often do your clothes need to be cleaned?

Outerwear Monthly during season and then before storage
Tuxedo Every other wearing
Evening Wear After every wearing
Dress Every third wearing
Skirt Every fourth wearing
Blouse Every other wearing
Cotton Laundered Shirt After every wearing
Polo Shirt After every wearing
Khakis or Casual Pants Every other wearing
Dress Pants Every fourth wearing
Wool Suit Every fourth wearing
Lightweight Suit Every fourth wearing
Sport Coat or Blazer Every third wearing
Cotton Sweater Every third wearing
Wool Sweater Every sixth wearing
Silk Sweater Every other wearing
Bedspreads/Doonas Every six months
Curtains Every two years
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