How to Clean Silk Ties

34 responses

  1. Sonia
    September 19, 2007

    I just read elsewhere on the web that some people have very successfully spot cleaned their silk ties using plain old alcohol and a blow dryer to quickly dry the cleaned spot (to prevent a ring). I have NOT tried it myself yet, so do not know firsthand how it would work, but it’s worth a try on a tie that might just be ruined anyway! Best wishes!


  2. D. Jackson
    April 16, 2008

    If you notice a grease stain on fabric, try to treat it within a few hours. One thing to try is table salt or baking soda to absorb the oil or grease for about 30 minutes. Then brush off the salt or soda and then dab the spot with alcohol using a towel under the stain to prevent it from spreading. Let it sit for a few minutes then wash it right away. If the stain is still there, try alcohol again, then wash with Tide liquid detergent or Dawn dish detergent. If you still have a stain, then use it as a dust rag. Hopefully this will work, but only use this method on washable fabrics. If the fabric is not washable, only use alcohol and a blow dryer to prevent water stains. This works well on linen and micro fibers. Good Luck!


  3. Tie-de-spotter
    May 29, 2008

    Better than talc or corn starch is diatomaceous earth or attapulgite, a very fine siliceous powder with a strong affinity for oil and grease. Simply blot the stain with a paper towel and then apply the powder to generously cover the grease stain. Gently pat the powder into the weave of the tie and allow it to sit overnight. The next day, gently brush away the excess powder, and then flick (not pick) at the fabric with your nail to dislodge the powder embedded in the weave. If the grease stain is still present, reapply the powder and try again the next day. Diatomaceous earth, and attapulgite are both in the class of substances known as Fuller’s Earth. Fuller’s Earth has been used for centuries to clean and degrease clothing.


  4. Lisa C
    July 16, 2008

    I was looking for tips on how to remove stains from a silk tie tonight and came across this site. I tried the alcohol and blow dryer tip that Sonia posted and it worked perfectly. I purchased a Gucci tie from a thrift store that had a few small set-in stains and they are now gone! Thanks Sonia.


  5. Sue
    December 11, 2008

    I was skeptical, but Sonia’s tip above using alcohol and a blow dryer really worked for me on a milk stain that ran down the entire length of my son’s light-colored silk tie. JUST KEEP REPEATING. After the first couple of applications, it may not look like it’s working, but eventually it will. Hooray!


  6. Herzco
    November 12, 2009

    “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.”

    Right. I’ll begin carrying around stain remover for “my man” when he starts carrying tampons for me.


  7. Bill
    November 14, 2009

    I couldn’t get to this tie for five hours. When I got home, I dabbed the stain lightly and repeatedly with spray and wash with plain white paper towel. Knowing that you can’t touch or do anything else with fine silk and knowing that this treated area would show a shadow where the spray and wash dried, I proceeded to spray the entire length of the front of the tie till it all was wet. In the morning, I had a dry tie, stain perfectly removed and the tie was only slightly darker than originally. If it were new, you wouldn’t know the difference. Just a slight color change.


  8. Joe
    November 28, 2009

    After two attempts of cleaning a stain at a reputable dry cleaner, I tried Sonia’s rubbing alcohol suggestion, which worked great. Warning, though – on my stain, I needed to rub and soak it for it to lighten, which it did, but my repeated process also lightened the base tie as well – the tie can now be used, as my wife could not find the stain nor the lightened area upon inspection until I told her where it was. So the idea works GREAT – but I did this “extreme” by soaking and rubbing really hard five (5) times. Thanks Sonia – your idea saved my tie to be usable as a tie and not as dust cloth.


  9. Paul
    May 3, 2010

    I first used alcohol and powder to remove stains from two rather expensive silk ties. It did not work. I already knew taking them to the dry cleaners would not work. As a last resort, I bought some club soda and wet the areas thoroughly. The club soda fizzed a little when I poured it on. After some light rubbing, the stains disappeared. I was skeptical so I poured on more club soda. Then I let them dry naturally. Now, the ties are dry and there’s no sign of the stains. I just saved about $150 worth of my favorite ties. Amazing.


  10. Steve
    April 16, 2011

    RE: I thought this kind of sexism was dead…
    Herzco: Not everything is sexist; asking the girlfriend or wife to carry the stain remover in her purse has nothing to do with sexism. My girlfriend generally carries many emergency items in her purse. It is a matter of being practical. Most men do not carry a bag; storing these items in our wallets is not an option. My girlfriend would gladly carry this item for me. Just as I would gladly carry a pad or tampon for her in my jacket pocket. Assisting your life partner is not sexism, it’s called a healthy relationship. By the way, I still open doors and pull out chairs, also not sexism; it’s called basic manners. It is a shame that in this day and age simple co-operation can be viewed as sexist. No wonder so many of today’s relationships do not work out.

    Truly Sad


  11. Moxamomma
    June 29, 2011

    I am going to try the suggestion posted here, but first, answer this question: If water should NEVER be put on silk ties (I read online), then how can SELTZER (a.k.a. Carbonated WATER) be safely used to clean a silk tie? Need an answer please. Thank you.


  12. Simon
    August 23, 2011

    Moxamomma… it is entirely possible that a weak solution of carbonated water does not damage silk in the same way as tap water. Silk is a protein with tertiary structure held together by hydrogen bonding between amines and carboxylate groups – water disrupts the hydrogen bonding by bonding to the groups itself. Changing the pH of the water may well modify the hydrogen bonding nature in silk so that it is not disrupted.


  13. Jorge
    September 8, 2011

    The alcohol tip works wonders. Just saved a $150 Burberry tie from years at the back of my closet! I didn’t have a blow-drier, but a fan on a really high setting worked amazingly. Thanks!


  14. Cliff
    September 21, 2011

    “I’ll begin carrying around stain remover for “my man” when he starts carrying tampons for me.”

    I suspect you will never have to worry about this.


  15. Ken
    November 8, 2011

    For years, I have had great success removing spots from silk ties using contact lens cleaning solution–not the “all in one–cleaner + soaking solution + saline” kind, but the kind that was used by everyone with soft and hard lenses back in the ’80s and ’90s. Not terribly easy to find, but still out there.

    1. Spread a thick, dry terry cloth trowel on the floor.

    2. Squirt the lens cleaner on the tie to cover the spot.

    3. Lay the tie smoothly on the towel and fold the towel over so that the tie is sandwiched between two layers of towel.

    4. Not kidding here–stand on and jump up and down on the towel where the tie is. The pressure forces all the cleaning solution into the towel, bringing the stain with it. Remove the tie and spread it flat on a smooth surface to completely dry if necessary.


  16. Jennifer
    December 8, 2011

    Wow! I followed Sonia’s idea of alcohol and a hair dryer, and it worked! I wiped the stain with an alcohol wipe, then used the hairdryer to dry it, then I used my finger nail to kind of scrape at the stain. I then used a white paper towel and scrubbed the stain. I repeated it three times with three alcohol wipes. Thank you Sonia for the idea!


  17. Steve
    February 15, 2012

    That product mentioned above is actually sold at auto parts stores and Walmart as an oil drying compound. It is used to take oil spots off of driveways, and works quite well on nasty, dirty motor oil. It is also used in some aquarium filters to suck out impurities. Combined with heat from an iron, this stuff works quite well on silk ties in about five minutes. I just saved my favorite $50.00 silk tie this way. I think this stuff is in kitty litter, also. That might also be worth a try.


  18. Brian
    April 29, 2012

    Tried Sonia’s suggestion on a bright blue silk tie. There was a little spot showing where I spot treated it, so I blotted the rest of the area around the spot with alcohol, then dried it with a hairdryer and now the spot is gone. There really isn’t anything that you can see now.


  19. Brian
    May 31, 2012

    I also tried Sonia’s alcohol stain removal technique on a nice Hermes tie I purchased at a local thrift store. I blotted using Q-tips, and dried it with the hair dryer. The spot is gone.


  20. C
    July 18, 2012

    I didn’t have any rubbing alcohol or stain remover, but I managed to save my favorite Kenneth Cole necktie with vodka. Alcohol definitely works, probably with less risk than stain remover. Thanks Sonia!


  21. J.
    August 25, 2012

    I didn’t have rubbing alcohol either, so I also used vodka. Three drops and a light rubbing with a Q-Tip (and immediate drying with a hair dryer), and the stain is completely gone. Much better than paying a dry cleaner and hoping for the best. Thanks!


  22. Dawn
    September 16, 2012

    Sonia! It looks like you’re the star of this show!


  23. Phil
    October 16, 2012

    Vodka with a hair dryer made wonders.


  24. Violet
    November 5, 2012

    This is extremely silly–water by no means ruins a silk tie. Trying to spot clean with water will likely leave a mark, but please use common sense. Silk fabrics are some of the oldest and they have needed to be cleaned since long before dry cleaning or other lab-created chemical concoctions existed.
    I know that silks can be washed because I do this myself, as someone who makes their living off of restoring and reselling vintage clothing. I have worked with silk, satin, velvet, crepe, jersey, chiffon, dupioni… the list goes on. I have successfully cleaned all of them, and rid them of many serious and often decades-old stains. Some are much tougher to clean and restore than others, and none ever look quite as perfect as before its first wash, but it’s certainly better than a dingy or stained garment and no one but you who saw that silk item before its wash will truly know the difference (if you clean it carefully, of course!).
    If your silk tie is gross and a simple spot treatment won’t do it, you don’t have to lose it! Get a jug of distilled water and a small container (or wash out your sink and plug the drain), then soak the tie in it for at least an hour. If you’ve had the tie for a while, or it is vintage, you might just be stunned at how gross the water gets with this soak. Drain that water, add a soap made for delicate clothing, and let it soak for ten minutes. Drain that, then fill the container with water again until the suds are gone and the water is clear. Rinse with white vinegar to restore the luster of the silk and rinse until the scent of vinegar is gone. Then, lay it flat to dry. It will probably be a bit stiff when it dries, so if you have a steamer, steam it from a few inches away; otherwise, hang it near your shower, turn on the hot water, close the door, and let it get steamy in there for 5-10 minutes. Ta-da; you have a fresh, clean silk tie that still looks incredibly handsome.
    I promise this works. If it didn’t, I’d be broke and wardrobe-less (given that I’m somewhat of a hedonist and much of my own closet is filled with silk).


  25. JS
    November 30, 2012

    I tried the rubbing alcohol wipe method and it worked somewhat. My stain was on a silk tie; it set in for about an hour and had been gently wiped with a dry paper towel at the restaurant. The alcohol removed about 70-80 percent of the stain after 2-3 alcohol wipe and dry cycles. I wanted to get the rest out, so I wiped a little more aggressively once more. After drying that time, I noted some fading of the material, especially evident since the tie has a bit of a sheen to it. Be conservative with how many times you wipe and with how much pressure. Otherwise, you can end up bleaching the fabric. In this case, better was the enemy of good. I should have just left it alone at 80%.


  26. Ben
    December 3, 2012

    Another vote for Sonia! My stain was very caked on and several months old at least. After each time I applied alcohol and dried with the hair dryer, I very gently used a toothpick to scrape along the grain of the tie to get out the caked-on stuff that the alcohol had loosened. Then several more times with the alcohol, and the stain lightened up a little each time. Thanks!


  27. Al
    January 17, 2013

    Alcohol wipe and a hair drier are definitely the way to go. It just saved one of my favorite ties from the rag bag. Thanks Sonia!


  28. Ellen
    September 19, 2013

    I was nervous about trying the alcohol, however, I figured the tie was trashed anyways, so why not. I agree with y’all that it is the way to go. My husband’s tie looks new again! Wish I would have known sooner. Previously I would have thrown it out. I encourage everyone to give it a try.


  29. Daniel
    February 6, 2015

    Just removed a large 3×2 oily stain from my navy blue Gucci tie. Laid it flat over a wash cloth and blotted with alcohol on a cotton ball. Used hairdryer.
    Repeated the process 3 times. Like new. No need to replace.
    Saved me $140.00.


  30. Sadie
    March 5, 2015

    Water absolutely does NOT damage a silk tie. I’ve tried a wet washcloth with mild detergent on it to actually RUB in each direction of a small stain (grease?) and then rinsed with the opposite end of a dampened washcloth, rinsing beyond the stain’s edges. Lay it flat on the island to dry. It did NOTHING to remove the stain, but the tie is as smooth & silky as before with no water stains. May try the alcohol/hair dryer next.


  31. Linda
    June 7, 2015

    I tried Sonia’s alcohol and hairdryer method, but it didn’t work. The stain is still there and now there is a ring around it where the alcohol was. Help!


  32. Tom
    August 11, 2015

    I had one medium-sized stain (from some vegetable on a pizza) and two minute stains on my bright blue silk tie. I tried Sonia’s alcohol and hairdryer method, and the medium-sized one disappeared immediately. However, the other two were stubborn. I went too far and rubbed more Isopropanol into the area. Then I realised I had one fresh big alcohol stain on top of the two original ones. Thanks to the link posted by Melanie, I attacked them by blotting with warm water straightaway and then used the hairdryer to dry the tie as quickly as possible (with cold air though). Now all the stains are gone and the tie is almost as good as new.

    In conclusion, Sonia’s alcohol and hairdryer method does work, but do not act like me by applying the method again and again because silk ties are difficult to maintain and you can hardly get rid of the stains on them completely. Otherwise, try the last solution in Melanie’s link to remove the previous alcohol stain and pray all the stains will go away.


  33. Al
    January 27, 2016

    I happened to have alcohol swabs in my medicine cabinet, which I used by lightly rubbing the tomato sauce stain on the silk tie. The swab showed RED on the first rub. Then the second rub showed none, which meant the stain was gone. I did use the hair dryer and it worked. The tie was not a solid light-colored tie; It had narrow stripes of red, gray & gold. I am comfortable with how the stain came out and or “blended” away!


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