How to save a stained silk tie

A silk tie smartens up any outfit
Image source: Handmade silk tie in regal gold from Samuel Windsor

It happens to the best of us. You’re deep in discussion over a bowl of spaghetti, when the marinara strikes. With a sinking heart you realize you now have an ugly stain on your favorite silk tie.

A stylish silk knot raises a plain shirt to a whole new level, but unfortunately your tie is also located directly in the splash zone for many a messy meal. Should disaster strike, here’s our best advice on how to save your stained silk tie. Try these tips before throwing in the towel…

Can you wash a silk tie?

Quite simply, no – you should never wash a silk tie. Silk is incredibly delicate. Even something as innocent as hot water can weaken its fibers until your handmade silk tie no longer drapes quite as beautifully as it did before. Vigorous scrubbing is also a big mistake – the last thing you want is to damage the texture or color of your silk tie. Cleaning silk is one of the few times when no elbow grease is a good thing!

Four tricks for cleaning a silk tie at home

Silk is an elegant fabric
Image source: Red-blue stripe handmade silk tie from Samuel Windsor

So, if soap and hot water are out, what’s a man to do? Here are four tricks to help you remove stains from your silk tie:

  1. Apply cornstarch or talcum powder to greasy or oily stains
  2. Treat liquid stains with rubbing alcohol and a hairdryer
  3. Carefully use a watered-down stain remover

Take your tie to silk-savvy dry cleaners

1. Lift oil or grease with cornstarch or talcum powder

Talcum powder absorbs grease
Image: CFS Image Hub

For greasy stains, like butter, cornstarch or talcum powder should help to soak them up. As soon as possible, lay your silk tie out flat and cover the stain with a generous amount of powder. Leave your tie overnight, before brushing the powder off. If the stain’s still visible, simply repeat the process until it disappears.

2. Remove liquid stains with rubbing alcohol and hairdryer

First, pour a small amount of rubbing alcohol into a bowl and dip the corner of a small cloth into it. Your cloth should be damp, but not dripping. Then, do a quick spot test on the back of your tie to ensure the rubbing alcohol isn’t going to affect the color.

Next, go for the stain. Because silk is so delicate, dab the fabric gently to avoid damaging the fibers. If you feel you absolutely must rub, do so as lightly as possible. This is not the time to be heavy-handed; keep it whisper-soft.

You don’t want the alcohol to have time to soak into the tie or you’ll end up with water marks. Quickly dry the affected area with a hair-dryer. Keep it on the lowest heat, so that the fabric isn’t scorched. If you’re gentle and careful, this strategy should remove all but the worst liquid stains.

3. Try a watered down stain remover

Given its name, you may think a stain remover would be your first choice, but these products are often too harsh for delicate fabrics like silk.

That said, if you’re faced with a particularly stubborn stain and nothing else has worked, it may be worth a shot. It’s always better to water down the stain remover and also try not let the solution sit on the tie for too long. Start with the minimum time recommended in the product’s instructions.

As always, remember not to be too harsh. There’s no point in scrubbing out a tough stain if it leaves equally-unsightly damaged silk in its place.

4. Take your tie to be dry cleaned

If none of the other methods have worked, or you’re simply not comfortable tackling the treatment of your favorite silk tie yourself, leave the cleaning to the professionals. Check that your dry cleaner has experience of cleaning silk. Let them know when the stain occurred and what caused it.

If all else fails

A woolen tie is a great alternative
Image source: @tintinfellow

If all else fails and your handmade silk tie is beyond redemption, it might be time to treat yourself to a new one. Or, consider switching to a woolen country tie instead. Made of sturdier material than silk, these dapper accessories will make sure you stand out from the crowd.

Have you successfully rescued your silk tie from a would-be-disastrous stain? Do you know a foolproof method we’ve missed? We’d love to hear about it. Come chat with us on our Facebook page.

Posted in Men's Style Guides.

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