A tie is a stain magnet and usually suffers the first hit of dribbled food and drink. And with its long free-swinging design, an occasional dip in gravy, water, or coffee is inevitable.
Some ties are pretreated with a stain-blocking finish; however, that finish won't stop everything. When the drip happens, do not rub the stain with a napkin or you will push the stain deeper into the fabric. Instead, follow the process described here as soon as possible.
Equipment / Tools
- Clothes iron
- Talcum powder or baking soda
- Woolite or other appropriate cleaner/detergent
- Paper towels
- Home dry-cleaning kit (if needed)
To immediately remove any excess food, use the edge of a dull knife or spoon or even a credit card. Then, dip a clean white napkin into plain water and dab away the stain.
Absorb Liquids and Oils
If the stain is greasy, use talcum powder, foot powder, or baking soda to absorb the excess oil. You can even use a slice of white bread to absorb the oil. This step will make additional cleaning easier by absorbing the excess grease as quickly as possible.
For liquid spills, blot with a plain white paper towel or napkin. Colored napkins can actually leave dye stains. As soon as you can, follow the removal instructions for specific stains for the best cleaning results.
Hand Wash the Tie
If your tie is labeled as washable and needs a general cleaning, be sure to hand wash. Never put a tie in the washer. The agitation is too strong and the stitching and interfacings may be damaged. Pretreat the stains as directed and then use a gentle soap such as Woolite to hand wash the tie.
If your tie is made from silk fabric, the preferred cleaning method is dry cleaning to preserve the gloss and the smooth finish of silk. Ask the dry cleaner to hand-press the tie because mechanical pressing methods are too severe to maintain the rounded edges of the tie. If silk fibers are pressed too hard, they will actually break and cannot be repaired.
If you choose to hand wash or use a home dry cleaning kit for your silk tie and stains are present, carefully use a pre-treater on the stain before cleaning.
Iron the Tie
No man looks handsome in a wrinkled or creased tie, but that may be better than a big scorch mark. With just a couple of tips, ironing can freshen the look of a tie and give it a professional look.
Tie fabrics must be ironed using the correct temperatures. Check the tag on your tie to determine the fabric content. Silk and polyester ties need a cool iron, wool ties require a medium-hot setting, and cotton and linen ties can stand up to a hot iron.
Begin on the wrong side of the tie, pressing lightly. When you iron the front of the tie, use a thin cotton cloth between the tie and the iron. This pressing cloth will prevent scorch marks and shiny streaks. Never iron a tie that has stains because the heat may permanently set the stain.
Working on the wrong side from the bottom of the tie to the top, iron small areas from the edges inward to avoid creases. Never let the iron rest too long in one spot. Lift the pressing cloth often to check your progress. If the tie shows any color changes, lower the iron's temperature. Next, turn over the tie and press the front side still using the pressing cloth. When you're finished, hang the tie over a padded hanger to cool before storing or wearing.
If your tie is wrinkled and you don’t have an iron, hang the tie in a bathroom filled with steam. The steam will soften the fibers. Once the tie is slightly damp, place it under several books or a laptop to flatten out the wrinkles.
Store Your Ties
Ties don't take up a great deal of space and you'll get many more years of wear if you store them properly and let them rest between wearings.
- Ties can be hung with the suit they accessorize to make them easy to find each time you wear the suit. Hang the tie over the trousers so it is not touching the hanger.
- Knitted or crocheted ties should be stored flat. Woven fabric ties can be rolled loosely around your hand and stored in a drawer or in a shallow covered storage box. Keep your valuable neckties out of sunlight. It will damage the color and weaken the fabric.
- When packing for a trip, fold the tie into fourths and slip it inside the pocket of the suit jacket. Or, roll the tie and use a small box tucked in the corner of your luggage to prevent wrinkling. When you arrive at your destination, hang the tie on the bathroom door before you take your shower. The steam will freshen the tie and relax any wrinkles that may have formed.
Tie Preservation Tips
To help ties last, prevention is far better than a cure:
- Do not tie knots too tightly.
- Always untie the tie after it has been worn.
- Treat stains promptly.
- Never iron a tie that has a stain and be sure to choose the correct ironing temperature.
- Allow ties to rest for three days between wearings to prevent stretching.