Cleaning a Silk Tie
How to clean a silk tie is the question that lingers in the minds in the halls outside power lunches, business meetings, church functions, and formal occasions. Gratefully, most tie-wearers are wise enough to know that knowing how to clean silk ties is less valuable than knowing how to keep silk ties from getting dirty in the first place, but accidents do happen. Perfect manners and precise etiquette can still fall sway to the whims of nature and poorly-aimed food. When it comes to cleaning a silk tie, we promise you that it's not too late to save your tie. It's almost too late, but not quite.
The first myth that we will put to rest about cleaning ties is the viability of the dry cleaner. Dry cleaners can do good things for getting stains out of ties but they tend to press them completely flat. While this isn't a tremendous issue in maintaining the wearability of your ties, it definitely removes the nice rounded edge that they started out with. That minor sort of tackiness is easily picked up by those more cultured (and more fortunate in the cleanliness of their ties) among whom you and your tie will likely pass. Keeping the dry cleaner open only as a last-ditch option, then, there are several techniques that you can employ to save you both your money and your tie.
For any stain, fast action is required. With most stains, the first thing to do is to get some stain remover. Put a very small amount on a soft paper towel and dab at the stain until you've covered it all. Then, blot the tie with a clean paper towel. If there are any food or sauce particles on the tie, be sure to take those off before blotting. When you blot, blot lightly. Stains have a nasty way of spreading. This is your best bet for cleaning your tie. The stain remover may discolor your tie slightly but the stain definitely will, so be careful and thorough. Whatever you do, never get your silk tie wet. Washing machines and even wet paper towels are right out.
As we said, the best remedy for a dirty tie is to not get it dirty in the first place. Prevention saves frustration. Various fabric protection sprays are available in most clothing stores; spritz your ties with one of these occasionally before wearing them. It might not stop a full pitcher of grape juice or a carefully-aimed bowl of tomato soup but it will still help guard against the smaller class of spills.
Some have suggested that lighter, non-greasy stains can also be dealt with by placing a soft towel on a warm radiator, laying the tie on the towel (stained-side up), and spritzing the tie with cold water, being sure not to soak it. Leaving the tie there overnight often allows the stain to evaporate (the process can be repeated until the stain is completely gone). It's worth a try. Hopefully, though, you won't have to. When you go to those weddings and power lunches, go light on the alcohol and stain-inducing foods. Keep your wits about you, keep the ketchup away, and keep your silk tie clean.