What is the True Cost of Dry Cleaning?
Dry cleaning can take a large toll on your wallet, free time, and also the environment. When considering to buy new outfits and garments, the costs of using a dry cleaner is something important to think about. In this post, we will explore the costs of dry cleaning a men’s suit, and how you can make dry cleaning a thing of the past for your wardrobe.
How Often Should I Dry Clean My Suit?
The frequency of drycleaning your suit jacket and pants depends on how often you use the suit, as well as the conditions it is put through and the other care that is given to it. Let’s explore three different types of people and their suit usage:
*David - is a salesperson in Florida, and travels around the region to sell and service his company’s products. Between driving around the hot, soggy Florida weather and spending time in hotel rooms, his suits get frequent wear and at the end of a week need a serious wash. He perhaps keeps two suits and may need to get dry cleaning done once every 1-2 weeks per suit.
*Kevin - works at an office and needs to have a suit jacket and pants to wear, but most of the day he hangs his jacket on his desk chair. Mostly he works in air condition, and has casual Fridays where he doesn’t need it at all. Moreover, Kevin steam irons and removes lint from his suit occasionally. For him, it is fine to dry clean his suit about once every month.
*Randy - doesn’t wear a suit much. He needs to go to occasional weddings, dates, and other events where he breaks it out to wear, sometimes wearing it a few times in a month and other months not at all. For Ryan, he could get away with ironing his suit once every 3 months, assuming he takes decent care of it and doesn’t abuse his suit in the meantime.
The Cost of Dry Cleaning Itself
It is hard to determine the exact cost of dry cleaning a suit, because it depends on a number of factors, such as location and quality of the dry cleaning location. For example, in New York City, the average cost will be much higher than in a more rural area. Similarly, there are discount cleaners that advertise very low fees to dry clean, but often they have hidden fees or less than desirable quality, that could cause wear or other issues for your suit.
In the end, after searching through different areas and types of places, we found an average of about $16 per suit (jacket and pants) clean at a decent quality (but not very top end) location. There is an overall range of about $5-$50 USD that can be found for dry-cleaning a two piece suit.
COST $10 - $22 per cleaning
Here you can see an example of average suit costs in selected states:
Travel Costs Involved
Doing dry cleaning can be a decent time commitment, because it requires you to make trips both for drop-off and pick-up, as well as the time spent there waiting and course, everyone’s situation is different – so if you are living in an urban area, it could be a short walk to the cleaners, while someone in a more rural area may require a 15-20 minute drive. As an alternative, there are now pick-up services available by the internet or apps – but they can also cost quite a lot.
COST: $5-15 per cleaning
Adding another errand onto your busy schedule is another cost, even though it may not show up directly in your wallet. For one, as they say: “time is money”. You could be doing many things with your time, just as making money on work or projects, or spending valuable time together with friends and family, or even just recharging with a nap.
While washing and drying your clothes does require a little bit of time itself, it is not nearly as much as going to and dealing with the dry cleaning store. Moreover, while your suit is washing, you can do other things, and be able to do a quick wash and dry, even in a rush!
Overall, the average US office worker salary is about $42,400 per year, or about $20.38 per hour. Of course, many suit-requiring jobs could be much higher salaries than this, but for the sake of this we will use a general estimate.
COST: $14-50 per hour
The environmental costs of dry cleaners is another issue that does not have a clear money value, but it does come at a cost. For one, dry cleaner stores use a large amount of water and electricity (in comparison to home machine wash). Meanwhile, dry cleaners utilise a wide range of chemicals, that can leak and get into the ground and water supply, causing a surprising amount of contamination.
All-in-all, while we support the need for small businesses, dry cleaners are not particularly beneficial in any way if there are ways to not need to use them. Environmentally, the washing chemicals you use in your house will have much less potential damage to the environment.
COST: unable to define
Dry cleaning chemicals actually damage the fabric in the long run, and can cause more wear than necessary. This is because dry cleaning facilities often use much stronger types of chemicals to clean apparel, knowing that they need to get even the toughest of stains and marks out. If you were wearing an xSuit, you wouldn’t likely be getting much in the way of stains or wrinkles anyway, due to its resistant fabric properties - but you cannot choose which level of chemicals are used on your clothes, or even be aware of what they go through.
COST: unable to define
Example Yearly Calculation
For this calculation, we will assume a person who wears a suit fairly often for work, but does not abuse it. In this case, he may need to dry clean a shirt every 3 weeks.
Cost Per Dry Clean = $16
Transportation/Fuel/Fees = $10
Time/Opportunity Cost = $21
David (who dry cleans his suits about once every 10 days - using 35 times/year) would spend $1,645 per year including his time cost! That’s enough to buy more than three xSuit 3.0s (one of each color) and avoid all of the hassle and fees. Even if the time/opportunity cost is not included, the estimated cost to him would be $910 per year.
Kevin (who needs to frequent the dry cleaners monthly) could spend a hefty $564 dollars per year on his suit when time/opportunity costs are taken into account, again more than enough money to buy a whole new xSuit 3.0 each year. And this is for a person who also spends additional time and money to take care of his suit routinely by steaming and removing lint.
Randy, the infrequent suit wearer who only needs to dry clean his every 3 months, still would lose an estimated $188 in estimated costs per year as shown above. While not as high as the others, it is still quite a lot of unnecessary expenses. And remember, these estimates don’t even include the environmental impact and clothing damage mentioned above, which could add on an even higher (albeit difficult to calculate) cost.
As you can see, the need for machine washable work wear is greater than ever. And although the alternative could look pricier up front due to the special constructions and fabric allowing machine washability, buying such quality garments will clearly pay back its costs, even in the mid-term.
What is the Solution?
The best way to take out the costs of dry cleaning is to purchase a high quality suit that is also machine washable, requiring no trips to the dry cleaners.
Founder of xSuit, Max Perez, notes this was one of the most important aspect in creating the xSuit 3.0 - little to no maintenance work wear. “The costs and challenges of dry cleaning were one of the main considerations in the development of the xSuit 3.0. It was of upmost importance to keep all the positive qualities of the previous xSuits – including unrivaled stretch, stain resistance, anti-wrinkle qualities, and comfort, while enabling the suit to be repeatedly machine washed without losing its appearance and quality”, explained Perez.
If you want to remove the shackles that dry cleaners have on you and give yourself some piece of mind - while saving a lot of money in the process - a fully machine washable xSuit 3.0 may be just what you are looking for.