When we talk about cleaning a silk tie, we’re actually talking about removing stains, because silk ties were never meant to be cleaned. Launder? Never! Dry clean? Not even that. These ties are extremely delicate and can fall apart easily. All you can do is keep the tie as clean as you can. If you’re good at that, the tie will be out of style and ready for the discard pile before it needs cleaning.
There are commercially available fabric pre-treatment sprays which can make your tie stain-retardant. Though some neckties are manufactured with a blocking agent, you must still defend yourself. Use a tie restraint such as a clip or tack, and tuck a napkin in your shirt collar when you eat. Then you won’t need to worry about stains. Remember your necktie is a thing of beauty, not a bib.
Silk and Water Don’t Mix
Should an offending blob of something get past your defenses, act immediately. Remove the tie. Waiting any length of time will make removal of the stain virtually impossible.
Never, ever bring water anywhere near the tie.
- With a white paper towel, dab a small amount of stain remover onto the stain. If you are not in the habit of carrying paper towels or stain remover with you, get your wife or girlfriend to carry them in her purse or stash them someplace convenient.
- If you have no stain remover, try dabbing it with a clean napkin dipped in a little seltzer.
- Blot with the paper towel.
- For anything greasy, sprinkle a little talcum powder or corn starch on the spot as soon as possible and allow it to absorb what it can. After a few hours, brush off the remaining residue with a clean soft cloth. If the spot remains, repeat the process.
Caution: stain removers may discolor your silk tie.
Methods of Last Resort
If it’s a soft silk tie, you can try this:
- Hang a towel over a hot radiator (not an automobile radiator).
- Take the silk tie and rest it flat on top of the towel while still on the radiator.
- Then, take a cold water vapor sprayer and evenly spray the area of the stain, being careful not to soak it.
- Use some very soft and absorbent bathroom tissue to blot the tie.
- Leave the tie on the radiator overnight.
- The next morning when you get up, check the tie. If the stain is still there, repeat the process.
If you should get butter or grease on your silk tie, which pretty much dooms the tie, don’t do anything until you get home.
- When you get home lay the silk tie on a flat surface with a towel under it.
- Sprinkle talcum powder or corn starch over the stain.
- Leave the tie on the towel overnight or for as long as you have to. This gives the stain a chance to be absorbed by the powder.
- Take a clean soft cloth or towel and gently brush off the powder. If it is still stained, repeat the process.
- This can take up to three applications before you know whether the stain is permanent.
If you haven’t gotten rid of the stain, which is very likely, then have the tie dry cleaned. They’re not meant for dry cleaning, and chances are dry cleaning isn’t going to get the spot out either, but this is your last resort. Ask the cleaner to use the gentlest chemicals he has. This is still not a guarantee that the tie won’t be ruined in the process.