What you need to know to maintain your trousers.

By Kristina Grish
Updated January 19, 2009
Raven Tailored Pants
Credit: Chris Bartlett

How to Wash Your Pants

For Dry-Clean Only

  • Make sure your trousers are soft-pressed. Over-pressing creates unsightly shine marks and will shorten the life of the garment.
  • Inform the dry cleaner if you prefer a crease or not, since creases can be impossible to remove on some fabrics, particularly cotton.
  • If the pants contain spandex, notify your cleaner so that he knows to run them on a short cycle.
  • When you get home, remove the plastic, as it won’t allow the fabric to breathe. But leave the paper shoulder cover on the hanger to keep the pants dust-free.

For Machine-Washable

  • Turn them inside out to reduce fading and protect the buttons and hardware.
  • Follow the care label. In general, it’s best to wash pants in cold on a gentle cycle and let them air-dry to prevent shrinking.

How to Iron a Pair of Pants

Note: Pleated pants are best left to a dry cleaner. To iron flat-front trousers:

  • Step 1: Turn the pants inside out, then lay the pockets flat and iron them. Adjust the temperature setting to the proper material.
  • Step 2: Turn the pants right-side out and slip the waist-band around the small end of the board. Rotate the pants around the board as you iron.
  • Step 3: Place one pant leg directly on top of the other, inseams aligned. Fold back the top leg and iron the inside of the bottom leg to the crotch, then flip the pants over and iron the outside. If you prefer no crease, iron just out to the edges.
  • Step 4: To set a crease down the front, align the inseams, then hold the iron a few inches away from the legs and give them a burst of steam along the edge

How to Tailor Your Pants

A sampling of what your local tailor can do.

  • Length: Pant legs can usually be let down 1 1/2 inches. Ideally, hem pants up two inches maximum (the proportions will be off if more than that is taken up).
  • Rise: A tailor can take in or let out the rise as long as there is 3/4 inch of fabric to work with.
  • Pockets: Pockets that gape can be sewn shut or removed.
  • Waist: A tailor can take in the waist up to 1 1/2 inches at the back or along the side seams. If pants are snug, usually 1/2 inch of fabric can be let out.
  • Tapering: Slightly narrowing the legs is possible, but you can’t turn bell-bottoms into skinny pants without causing fit issues.