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Stained Silk? Here's What to Do


Silk's smooth and elegant texture makes it perfect for wardrobe staples and elegant attire, but cleaning silk can be a challenge. The delicate nature of this particular textile makes it difficult to get rid of stains on silk without risking any damage.

How To Get Stains Out of Silk

Rather than assume your silk is ruined, there are ways to remove stubborn stains carefully and effectively. When in doubt, find a dry cleaner nearby and have the pros deal with your silk clothing safely.

Treat the Silk Stain Quickly

As with any other type of stain, it's always easier to remove silk stains shortly after they appear. Waiting until the stain is dried makes it more difficult to remove. Stains that are still wet and haven't settled in are easier to remove, so to tackle the stain removal as soon as possible.

Test for Silk Discoloration Color First

Not only does the material itself need to be protected when removing stains, but so does the color. You may be able to remove the stain, but you may accidently remove some of the color, too. Before you attempt to remove any stains from your silk garments, be sure to test the color first.

You can quickly see if the dye of the fabric will stay intact by blotting part of the material that isn't typically in view - like underneath the hem - with a damp, white cloth. If you see any of the color transfer to the white cloth, taking the DIY approach to stain removal is not a great idea.

Dab Silk Stains, Don't Rub

Due to silk's delicate nature, dabbing a stain is preferable to rubbing it. Not only will rubbing the stain spread the stain around, but it can also potentially ruin the fabric. Instead of rubbing the fabric, blot it. Using a clean, damp cloth, carefully dab the stained area as much as possible until the majority of the stain has been removed.

Use Lemon Juice or Vinegar on Silk

Rather than creating a lather out of soap, consider using a solution of one part lemon juice or white vinegar to one part lukewarm water. Using soap will require more water and dabbing to remove all the suds, which can cause damage to the fabric.

How to Get Oil Out of Silk

Getting oil or grease stains out of silk can be even more challenging. If you find an oil stain on your silk garment, you may want to take an additional step by applying talcum powder to the soiled area and allow it to sit overnight. The talcum powder will help to lift the stain, after which you can wash the garment as directed on the care label.

Getting Rid of Water Stains on Silk

If you're here wondering "can silk get wet?" let us put your mind at ease. Silk is much more fragile when wet, but water will not necessarily ruin the fabric. Still, while less serious than food or oil stains, water stains detract from your garment's appearance.

For a quick fix, you can try cleaning the water mark with another piece of silk. Make sure to choose clean, white silk, such as a pillowcase. If you use colored silk, you may transfer color onto your garment. To transfer the water stain, gently rub with the grain of the silk.

If spot treating the water stain doesn't work, washing or dry cleaning it should do the trick.

Avoid Bleaching Silk Fabrics

Bleach may be your go-to for many tough stains, but it's too harsh for delicate fabrics like silk. Even if you've tried every at-home stain removal tip already, don't be tempted to reach for the bleach. At this point, it's time to take your garment to the dry cleaners to remove the stain for you.

Wash Silk According to the Garment's Label

If the label on your silk clothing indicates that it is a dry clean only garment, believe the label. Washing certain silk garments may ruin the garment beyond repair.

Take Your Silk to a Dry Cleaner Nearby

In most cases, your best bet is to have dry cleaning and laundry professionals clean your silk garments. Tide Cleaners has the experience, know-how, and equipment to remove stains while ensuring that the fabric is kept safe. If the label specifies “Dry Clean Only,” then that's exactly how you should deal with your soiled silk clothing.