How to Clean and Care for Silk Ties

Someone cleaning a stain on a tie

The Spruce / Cristina Tudor

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 - 20 mins
  • Total Time: 12 hrs - 1 day
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $0 to $10

Washing a silk tie is risky and more difficult than cleaning cotton, polyester, or other fabrics. Due to the delicate fabric and meticulous stitching, it’s best to clean a tie—particularly a silk tie—only if you know precisely how to do it. Silk ties are especially sensitive to handling and can be easily ruined if exposed to water—even gentle hand washing. Above all else, resist the urge to put a silk tie in the washing machine, as it's bound to alter its shape and color beyond recognition. Instead, limit your cleaning efforts to spot-cleaning stains, then have the silk tie dry-cleaned if a deeper cleaning is required.

Fabric protectant can safeguard your silk tie from some errant food, beverage, and ink stains but only if it's applied in advance. If it's too late for that, you can try to remove the stain at home on your own—but it might be better to take it to a professional.

What Is Silk?

Silk is a delicate material made most commonly from fibroin, a protein produced by the mulberry silkworm. The fibers have a shimmering appearance because of their triangular prism-like structure, which refracts light and produces varying colors.

Silk has been used as a textile as far back as 6000 BCE in China, where a flourishing silk trade industry developed. It came to America during the 17th century but was too expensive for most early settlers. Silk is now used in nearly every country in luxurious bedding and garments, including Indian saris and Italian gowns.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Spoon or butter knife
  • Dry napkin or blotting cloth
  • Cotton balls (optional)


  • Club soda
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Talcum powder or cornstarch
  • Stain remover formulated for silk


Ingredients for cleaning silk ties

The Spruce / Cristina Tudor

How to Clean Silk Ties
Detergent Club soda
Special treatments Spot treat stains; do not wash in water
Iron settings Steam or lowest iron setting

How to Clean Silk Ties

  1. Scrape or Absorb Food Stains

    If you've spilled food or a viscous liquid on your silk tie, such as mustard, use a spoon or butter knife to gently scrape off the excess. If it was coffee or wine, use a dry napkin or clean cloth to blot up the liquid without rubbing it into the silk.

    Someone blotting a tie stain with a paper towel

    The Spruce / Cristina Tudor

  2. Dab Stains With Club Soda

    Plain water can ruin a silk tie, but club soda can help lift a water-based stain. Gently dab the spot with a cotton ball dipped in club soda until the stain has disappeared.

    A tie next to cotton balls, napkins, and club soda

    The Spruce / Cristina Tudor

  3. Absorb Oil or Grease Stains

    After blotting with a napkin or clean cloth, place the tie on a flat surface. To tackle lingering oil or grease, pour talcum powder or cornstarch onto the stain in a small pile, and let it sit for 12 to 24 hours. Dust the powder off, and check that the stain is gone. If it's not, repeat the process.

    Talcum powder on a black tie and in a small bowl

    The Spruce / Cristina Tudor

  4. Dab Rubbing Alcohol on Ink

    Unlike other types of stains, it's best to let an ink stain sit until it's dry. Removing wet ink causes it to spread, creating a bigger mess. Blot the dry ink stain with rubbing alcohol that's been applied to a clean cloth or cotton ball. Repeat as needed.

    A tie, cotton balls, napkins, and a container of rubbing alcohol

    The Spruce / Cristina Tudor

Treating Stains on Silk Ties

Keep a silk-safe stain remover in your back pocket or briefcase to immediately treat stains when you're out at an event, meeting, or dinner. Individually wrapped towelettes such as Silk & Clean wipes are formulated specifically for silk, while on-the-go stain removers such as Tide to Go and Shout Wipes are both safe to use as well.

To double-check that a stain remover isn't going to harm the fabric, test the stain remover on the back of the tie first. Never try to rub out a stain from a silk tie, as this can spread it across the fabric. Instead, blot or dab the stain with the stain-remover wipe or a clean cloth.

If you spilled red wine on your tie, take it off, put it down flat, and shake a mound of salt on the spot (don't be frugal with the salt). Let the salt sit for a few hours to absorb the wine. Remove the salt, blot the area with a barely damp clean cloth, and then air-dry.

Silk Tie Care and Repairs

The most common repair you'll need to do on a silk tie is eliminating a snag. The goal is to pull the snag from the front to the back, where it can't be seen. This will be easier to do on a patterned tie. You can try using a needle without thread to coax the snag from front to back. Or, thread a needle with the same color thread, push the needle up from the wrong side to the front, and grab the snag with the needle. Then, bring the threads back to the wrong side of the tie through the same hole.

Fraying sides may be another problem with a silk tie. Mending it with a needle and thread may not do the trick. Take the tie to a professional dry cleaner to see if it can be rewoven to look as good as new.


It's better to steam a silk tie than iron it. Ironing a silk tie can damage the interior folds and tip lining. However, if you must iron it, place a towel flat under the tie. Place another slightly damp towel on top of the tie. Turn the iron onto the lowest setting, and run it over the tie. Leave the tie in place between the towels until they're completely dry.

Storing Silk Ties

Once clean, store a silk tie flat or rolled up carefully. Don't roll up the tie too tightly or too loosely for storage. Knitted silk ties should always be rolled up for storage. If you have to hang a silk tie, give it enough space to breathe. If you're putting a tie away after wearing it, always untie it and put it away flat (keeping a silk tie always knotted makes the knot look flat and worn). Keep silk ties away from direct sunlight to prevent fading. A cool dark closet or drawer is ideal for storage.

How Often to Wash Silk Ties

Since silk ties aren't worn close to the skin, you'll only need to spot-clean them most of the time. If you frequently wear a favorite silk tie, however, a deeper cleaning at the dry cleaners about once a year should suffice to brighten and refresh the item.

Tips for Cleaning Silk Ties

  • When dabbing a stain on a silk tie, avoid using paper towels because they could leave lint or wet gobs on the tie.
  • Remove any stains prior to steaming a silk tie to eliminate wrinkles or creases. Steam will set in a stain.
  • If you don't have rubbing alcohol on hand to remove dried ink on a tie, use a drop of hand sanitizer instead.
  • Remember to throw your tie over your shoulder when eating a messy meal, such as a pasta dish with sauce, to avoid stains.
  • What should I do if my silk tie gets wet?

    Although many silk items can be gently hand-washed in water, silk ties use an especially delicate fabric that will pucker and wrinkle if it becomes wet. Should you spill water on a tie, you can sometimes save it by using a blow-dryer set at low heat. After blow-drying, lay out the tie on a clean white towel and roll it up for a couple of days.

  • Can I use a spray-on protectant on my silk ties?

    Yes. Several fabric protectants are available that are approved for use on silk. Using a protectant can guard your tie against absorbing stains when accidents occur.

  • How do I tell the difference between a natural silk tie and a polyester tie?

    Polyester fabric used for ties can be a good substitute for silk, especially for everyday wear, where spills are common. To identify a silk tie, hold it under a bright light and change the angle. Silk will have a subtle shimmer that changes slightly as the light angle changes.

  • What is a satin tie?

    The term "satin" technically refers to a type of fabric finish, not the material itself. A satin weave is designed to provide a shimmery look, and a satin fabric can be made of polyester, cotton, or a blend of fibers—including silk. In practice, most ties sold as satin are made predominantly of polyester or nylon woven to resemble silk.

    It's usually possible to distinguish a pure silk tie from a satin tie by examining both sides of the fabric. Silk will be shiny on both sides, while with satin, the back side of the fabric will be duller than the other. Unlike silk, a polyester satin tie can be machine-washed in cold water using a gentle cycle.

Article Sources
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  1. Three Tie Fabric Examples. James Morton Custom Ties.