How to Clean and Care for Silk Ties

Full frame shot of textile

Yoann JEZEQUEL Photography/Getty Images

Unlike the rest of your laundry, it’s best to avoid cleaning a tie—particularly a silk tie—unless you have no other option. Washing ties is risky, due to the delicate fabrics and meticulous stitching. Ties should be either hand-washed or dry-cleaned, depending on the material, and then air-dried to avoid damage. Don't put a silk tie in the washing machine, as it's bound to destroy it beyond recognition.

Fabric protectant can safeguard your silk tie from 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 get the stain out at home on your own—but it might be better to take it to a dry-cleaning professional.

How to Wash Silk Ties
Detergent None
Water temperature Room temperature
Cycle type Do not machine-wash
Drying cycle type Do not machine-dry
Special treatments Spot-treatment only
Iron settings Steam or lowest iron setting

Project Metrics

Silk ties are harder to clean than cotton, polyester, or other fabrics. Be incredibly gentle with the tie by dabbing at the stain, and resist the urge to just throw the whole thing in the washing machine.

Working time: 5 minutes

Total time: 12 to 24 hours

Skill level: Intermediate

What You'll Need

Supplies

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Talcum powder or cornstarch
  • Stain remover formulated for silk
  • Clean cloth

Instructions

  1. Scrape off excess food or absorb liquid immediately

    If you've spilled food or viscous liquid, such as mustard, on your silk tie, use a spoon or butter knife to get rid of the extra. If it was coffee or wine, use a dry napkin, paper towel, or clean cloth to blot up the liquid without rubbing it into the silk.

  2. Use club soda to dab at the stain

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

  3. Absorb oil or grease stains

    After blotting with a paper towel or clean cloth, lay the tie on a flat surface. Pour talcum powder or cornstarch onto the stain so it's in a little 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, you might have to repeat the process.

  4. Dab ink stains with rubbing alcohol

    Unless other types of stains, you want to let ink sit until it's dry. Then, blot the stain with rubbing alcohol applied to a clean cloth or cotton ball. Repeat as needed until the stain is gone.

    Let the ink dry before messing with the tie. Trying to get rid of it immediately could cause the ink to spread, creating a bigger mess.

  5. If the stain persists, send the tie to the dry cleaner

For stubborn stains, take the tie to the professionals. When you bring it, point the stain out and tell them what it is.

Treating Stains on Silk Ties

If you're out and need to treat a stain immediately, keep a silk-safe stain remover in your back pocket or a briefcase. 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 double-check that it's not going to harm the fabric, test the stain remover out on the back of the tie first.

Tips for Caring for Silk Ties

  • Never rub a stain, as this can spread it across the tie. Instead, blot or dab the stain with a clean cloth or rag.
  • Once clean, store the silk tie rolled up carefully or laying flat. If you have to hang it, give the ties enough space to breathe.

Ironing Silk Ties

It's better to steam silk ties. However, if you must iron it, position a towel below the tie that's laid out flat. 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.

What is Silk?

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

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