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How to Clean Dress Pants

by Kimbry Parker, studioD

Dress pants can be made from a variety of fabrics, including linen, polyester, wool, and blends. Regardless of the fabric, your dress pants require periodic cleaning. Although it’s not necessary to clean your dress pants each time you wear them – you can wear them several times before actually cleaning them – when it is time to wash, hand-wash them to be on the safe side and prevent damage.

Fill a clean tub or sink with lukewarm water. Add delicate laundry detergent to the water and mix it up well. Refer to the detergent’s label for the exact amount to use, as this can differ among brands.

Put the dress pants into the water. Swish them around gently for about three minutes. Don’t be too aggressive when swishing, as this can cause the fabric to shrink or become damaged.

Discard the water and rinse any soap residue from the tub or sink. Fill the tub or sink with clean lukewarm water.

Place the dress pants back into the water. Swish them around for another couple minutes to remove all the soap.

Squeeze the dress pants gently to remove as much water as possible. Avoid wringing them out, or you risk damaging the fabric.

Lay the pants onto clean towels. Overlap the towels as necessary so every part of the pants is on the towel.

Roll the pants and the towel up to remove any moisture still on the fabric. Unroll the towel and repeat this process one more time with dry towels. Lay the pants flat on another clean towel or on a drying rack to air dry. If drying the pants on a towel, flip them over after the front side is dry to allow the back to dry.

Items you will need
  •  Delicate laundry detergent
  •  Bath towels
  •  Drying rack (optional)


  • If your dress pants are pure silk or brightly colored and may bleed while washing, take them to a professional for cleaning.
  • Change out of your dress pants as soon as you get home. This prevents them from getting dirty quicker and cuts down on the number of times they’ll need to be washed.


  • Always check the care label on your pants for specific washing instructions. If the label says “Dry Clean Only,” it’s best to take them to a professional cleaner. If it says “Dry Clean,” these fabrics can usually be safely hand-washed.
  • If the care label says it’s safe to machine-wash your pants, use cold water and a gentle detergent. Hang them to dry or tumble dry on low, removing them from the dryer promptly.

About the Author

Kimbry Parker has been writing since 1998 and has published content on various websites. Parker has experience writing on a variety of topics such as health, parenting, home improvement and decorating. She is a graduate of Purdue University with a Bachelor of Arts in organizational communication.

Photo Credits

  • Visage/Stockbyte/Getty Images