Most people are required to wear specific clothing for work. Companies usually prefer that employees wear dress clothes because it helps to provide a more professional environment for the staff and customers. However, one quick look online shows you just how expensive these items of clothing can sometimes be.
Thus, you must learn how to wash dress pants so that you don’t ruin them. Most manufacturers make clothing to last if you take care of them properly.
Today, you’ll learn how to wash and dry them, as well as how often to clean them, how to hang them, and the best way to fold them while traveling.
What Are Dress Pants?
Dress pants are articles of clothing that cover the bottom half of the body. They’re usually made from a variety of fabrics such as wool, polyester, linen, and blends.
Some people believe they have to wash their slacks after each wearing. If you get a stain on them or otherwise get them dirty, then yes, it’s ideal to clean them, but you don’t have to wash them after each use.
Generally, dress slacks only have to be washed after two or three times of wearing them. The goal here is for them to look as nice the third time as the first.
How to Wash Dress Pants at Home
There are many ways to clean your dress pants, and it’s up to you to find out which option will be best. A good starting point is to read the label. If it claims that the pants are machine washable, you should follow the label instructions or go through our step-by-step process.
Sometimes, dress pants are designed to be dry cleaned, so you should take them to a specialized cleaning company. There is a way to “dry-clean” at home in your dryer, but most clothing manufacturers do not recommend this, as it could damage the clothing.
Another option is to hand-wash the dress pants. Many times, the clothing label says to do this. Our method is easy and will produce the same results each time.
Can You Machine Wash Dress Pants?
Of course, you must check the instructions on the label to determine if your slacks can be washed in the washing machine. If you don’t, you may damage the pants, and this can get quite expensive if you have to replace your dress slacks frequently.
In most cases, it's okay to machine wash polyester, wool, and cotton. On the contrary, any delicate wools or cotton should be hand-washed. If you’re unsure, hand-washing is always best.
Nonetheless, you can test the fabric using plain water. To do so, run some water over a hidden spot of the pants, such as the inside of the cuff. Consider dabbing a bit of laundry detergent on the pants, as well.
Then, take a cotton swab and roll it over the fabric. Check the swab for any dye. If it’s still clean and white, they're safe to machine-wash.
What’s the Best Way to Wash Dress Pants?
Here are the recommended steps for machine washing your dress pants
- Check the Pockets: Tissues, paper, and other items can cause streaking or may otherwise damage the pants, so make sure to empty out the pockets.
- Turn Your Pants Inside Out: This can help reduce fading and will keep the buttons safe and intact.
- Use a Mesh Bag: Put the pants directly into a mesh bag. If you have multiple pairs to wash at once, you may need numerous laundry bags.
- Wash Them on the Gentle Cycle with Cold Water: Toss the mesh bag (with the pants inside) into the washing machine and add some mild laundry detergent. Make sure the settings are for the gentlest cycle possible.
- Remove Them Promptly: When the cycle is complete, take out the pants immediately.
How to Hand Wash Pants
Most people worry about throwing dress pants into a washing machine. Even on the gentle cycle, the agitator may be too much for some fabrics. Again, if you have any doubts, it’s always best to wash them by hand.
While it may take a bit longer to do the task, you’ll ensure the pants are clean and still appropriate to wear to work. It may be best to perform the same water test, as mentioned earlier. That way, you don’t risk ruining them.
When hand washing dress pants, you’ll need to find a tub or use your kitchen or bathroom sink. Those with multiple pairs of pants may want to use the bathtub. Just make sure that you’re not mixing fabrics or colors; dark pants should be washed separately from light shades.
- Mix Water and Mild Detergent: Fill your sink or tub with cold water and add a mild detergent to make it frothy. For sinks or washbasins, you may not need a lot of detergents. For bathtubs, though, you may require more soap to produce suds.
- Saturate the Pants with Liquid: Put in your pants and press them into the water so that the mixture saturates them. Scrub gently with your fingers to remove dirt and stains.
- Refill the Sink or Tub: Drain out the soapy water and refill your tub or sink with clean, cold water. Dip your pants in and out until the laundry detergent has been removed.
- Repeat: You may have to repeat the above step a few times, refilling and emptying the sink as needed. It’s also possible to run the water and move the pants back and forth to remove the suds.
How to Spot Clean Pant Stains
If your pants really aren’t that dirty but have a few smudges, you can spot-clean them. For this, you need to soak the stain in room-temperature water. Pour salt onto the stain and let it sit for up to 15 minutes, and then rinse it off and apply a cleaner from the inside of your pants.
Next, place a paper towel over the stain and let it sit for about an hour. Flush the area to remove the cleaner. There is a variety of cleaning agents you can use. A mild detergent is an option, but you can also use lemon or vinegar on cotton. Wool pants require the use of special wool detergent.
How to Dry Your Dress Pants
Whether you chose to spot-clean, hand-wash, or machine-wash, at some point, you’ll need to know how to dry dress pants. It’s not recommended to dry them in a dryer, so it’s best to follow these steps:
Step #1: Remove Excess Water
Find a large, fluffy, absorbent towel and lay your pants down on it and roll it up. Squeeze the cloth as you roll it to remove excess water from your pants.
Then, unroll the towel and move to a drier part of it to repeat the process. You may need to do this up to five times to get more water out of your pants. Sometimes, it may be necessary to use a new, dry towel.
It’s possible to purchase “drying” towels. You’ll find a variety of options and styles, such as lint-free, soft, extra-long, and more.
Step #2: Air Dry Pants
Lay your pants out on a clean, flat surface so they can air dry. You can also use a mesh drying station if you already have one. Don’t touch or pick up the pants until they’re completely dry.
Step #3: Iron or Steam
Since your pants are already dry, you can start ironing them. If your dress pants have pleats, a professional may need to do this part. Otherwise, iron them using your ironing board and device.
Consider turning them inside out to iron the pockets first, as this ensures that the pockets are flat. Most people prefer to use the steam setting. No matter what setting you choose, though, make sure that the iron is a few inches away so that it doesn’t put too much heat on the delicate fabric. It’s also essential that you steam or iron the inseams, cuffs, and the crease.
During this step, you should focus on taking your time. If you rush the steaming or ironing process, you may end up with set wrinkles and will have to do it all over again.
How to Hang Dress Pants
For most people, the art of hanging dress pants is a tedious and annoying task. You get it over the inside rod, and they slip off when you get them to the closet. It’s important to learn how to hang dress pants so that they stay until you’re ready to wear them again.
Saville Row Fold Technique
Though there are a variety of hanging techniques, the Saville Row Fold is ideal. It’s designed to be used for dress pants with or without a crease. The extra care you take to hang them correctly ensures that there are no wrinkles, and the pants won’t slide off the hanger while in the closet.
Step #1: Iron Your Pants
Iron the pants if necessary to remove any wrinkles. Use your steam function and apply gentle pressure in an up-and-down motion rather than a back-to-forth one.
Step #2: Lay the Pants Down
Lay the pants on a flat surface. You can consider a table, a desk, or the floor. It might be best to avoid using carpeted areas or your bed because it might make it more challenging to get the pants folded neatly.
Step #3: Fold Properly
Fold your pants along the zipper or the crease, depending on style. Some pants do not have a crease at all, so you just fold them in half using the zipper as a guide. If there is a crease in the pants, make sure that you fold them in half, keeping it on the outer edge.
Do this to one side and then the other, making sure the crease is still aligned. Smooth the pants out to ensure that there are no bulges or wrinkles.
Step #4: How to Hang Pants on the Hanger
Take your hanger and slide it between the legs of the pants. Plastic, flocked, or wooden hangers are best for hanging. Avoid wire because it could cause wrinkles.
Next, pick up the top pants’ leg, and while moving the hanger as you go, make sure the hem of the leg is nestled at the crotch of the pants. It might take a couple of tries, as you want the leg to be even and taut so that it doesn’t wrinkle.
Set the hanger down so that it’s resting flat over the fabric. This creates the first fold. Make sure the hanger hook is towards the hem of the pants and not the waistband.
Hold the hanger up, pick up the bottom pants’ leg, and insert it through the hanger opening. Lay it flat on the top leg and smooth everything down.
Step #5: Hang Your Pants in Your Closet
Pick up the hanger and give it a gentle shake. This “locks” the pant legs into place so that they won’t fall off. Once you’ve done this a few times, you’ll understand that you’re folding the pant legs over one another. This will ensure that the pants stay in place on the hanger until the next time you wear them. That said, it will not add any creases to the pants.
Now, you can hang the hanger in your closet or put it into a garment bag. Make sure that you leave a bit of room between the pants and hangers. If you squish everything together to make more room, you’ll end up causing wrinkles and will have to iron the pants before you can wear them.
The Saville Row method is not foolproof. It will take you some time to learn how to do it correctly, and practice makes perfect. If you can’t figure it out or just don’t like it, there’s another way to hang your pants safely. Here are the steps:
- Find the crease in the pants and lay them on the bed or folding table.
- Pick up both legs and slide them into the hanger as usual.
- Move the hanger to the middle of the pants, closer to the crotch.
- Lay the hanger and pants on the bed or the folding table once more.
- Take small binder clips and clamp them onto the legs of the pants, near to the hanger. That way, they won’t slide around or fall off.
The one caveat here is that the clips can leave an indentation in the pants. These may have to be steamed away unless you can find an inconspicuous place to clip them.
How to Fold Dress Pants for Travel
There are multiple methods for folding dress pants, especially when you’re planning to travel, and you don’t want to get to the hotel and have to iron your pants because of wrinkles. Here’s the step-by-step instruction in folding your pants properly:
Step 1: Iron the Pants
The first thing you should do is iron your pants to get out any wrinkles. Make sure that you pay close attention to the label to ensure that you use the right settings. It’s preferable to use an ironing board, which is designed to withstand the heat of the iron.
You’ll probably use the steam function. Either way, apply gentle pressure and pick up the iron after each pressing. This method is usually better than the back-and-forth version.
Step #2: Lay the Pants on a Flat Surface
Next, you will need to lay-out your pants onto a flat surface. You can use a table or the floor. Make sure there is no padding, such as the carpet and bed, since you won’t get smooth folds if there is any.
Before starting to fold, it’s best to smooth out the pockets. Consider inserting your hands into the pockets first to get them to lie flat.
Step #3: Fold the Pants
If the pants have a crease, and most dress pants do, you should fold the pants along it. You may need to start at the cuff to find the crease. Make sure that it is facing upward from the folding space.
Now, you’ll hold the outside of the pants and fold them inward along the leg seam. The outside seam will be pointing inward, which keeps the seam and crease in place. It’s also important that the bottom of the pants match so that there aren’t any wrinkles later.
Step #4: Fold the Pants
Sometimes, dress pants don’t have a crease. When that happens, you can just fold your pants in half at the button-front or zipper.
The legs should be on top of each other with the back of the pants facing you. Both side seams will also be on the edge.
Take the bottom cuffs of your pants and move them toward the waistband. Make sure the cuffs stay flattened and are aligned with the crease if one is present. Now, smooth out the fabric with your hands to remove any wrinkles.
Slide your hand carefully between the folds to make sure the leg fabric didn’t get bunched up anywhere, as this will prevent wrinkles later. For delicate fabrics like silk, it’s best to use some tissue paper and place them between all of the folds.
Step #5: Fold One More Time
With the pants folded and the legs at the waist, you now need to fold them once more. That first fold you made should be moved to the waistband to create a more compact fold.
This, in a sense, turns the pants into a rectangular or square shape, depending on the width. The second fold line should be even with the waist of the pants to ensure that the fabric stays straight.
Again, run your hand gently through the fabric fold to ensure that it isn’t bunched up. Smooth out the pants with your hands to remove any wrinkles.
Step #6: How to Store Dress Pants
Put your neatly folded pants into a dry-cleaning bag or something similar. This helps to protect them, whether you’re storing them in a dresser or traveling with them.
Depending on the size of your bag, you might be able to fit two or three pairs. Just make sure that you remove excess air. Then, seal the bag using the adhesive or by taping the bag shut.
When packing, make sure your dress pants are one of the last things to be put inside. This will prevent too much weight being put on the pants, which could cause unwelcome wrinkles.
For people who own and have to wear dress pants, there are a few things to consider. Of course, you don’t want to clean them more often than necessary, but you also need to know how to wash dress pants so they’ll look good and last longer.
We talked about how to wash them properly plus explained how to hang your dress pants in a closet and folding methods for travel. Just follow them, and you’ll be alright!