May 20, 2011


I recently had a wonderful conversation with Gerald, who runs Jeeves, a company that offers custom handcleaning services for high-end, bespoke garments. 

As he explained it to me, traditional dry cleaning can be a bit rough. Not only does it often involve the use of perchloroethene (a potential carcinogen if not handled correctly), the process can also damage your clothing.

You see, traditional dry cleaners use a machine that looks much like a front loading washer. The dry cleaner inserts a load of clothes into the barrel, throws in some dry cleaning solution, and then closes the door. The machine agitates the clothes for a while, and then rotates the barrel so that the clothes reache an apex, at which point they fall so that the soil can dislodge. Afterwards, the barrel spins, much like a traditional washing machine, so that the cleaning chemicals are spun out. The process is fine for most clothes, but if you have handwork details on a bespoke suit, it can be hard on the stitching.  Worse still, many lower end dry cleaners filter the used solvent and reuse it for other loads. 

The alternative Jeeves offers is to go over the entire garment and treat each stain accordingly to what it is. For example, shoe polish stains will be treated in a way that’s best for them, not in the way that’s best for wine stains. All of this is carefully done by hand. Afterwards, the company puts the garment in a room with an ozone machine, which helps neutralize any smells, and then carefully hand presses the jacket the way it would be done on the bespoke tailor’s floor. People who have had their jackets’ lapel rolls ruined by a dry cleaner know how important this is. 

Unfortunately, you have to be in New York to utilize Jeeves’ services, or near one of their international locations. The process is also expensive – $150, as it takes five hours worth of skilled, hand-cleaning work. If you have high-end bespoke garments however, and are near one of Jeeves’ locations, it’s worth looking into. 

Lastly, as a reminder to everyone, this is the time of the year to store away your fall/ winter clothes and bring out your spring/ summer ones. Will at A Suitable Wardrobe made a good video about this recently. He also had a good post last fall that reminded us that we need to clean our clothes before we store them away. For most of us, that means a good local dry cleaner, but perhaps for others, it’s bringing that Attolini suit to Jeeves.