Delicate khaki-coloured silk.

The ultimate guide to removing stains from silk

It’s easy to panic when you spot a stain on your silk clothing – after all, it’s notoriously tricky to clean. How will you even begin to remove that red lipstick smudge on your white silk blouse, or that coffee stain on your (formerly very handsome) silk tie? What about the very real risk that the silk will shrivel or tear in the wash? Here’s a secret: removing stains from silk isn’t actually all that complicated. You just need the right approach.

 

Need-to-know info on getting stains out of silk

There are a couple of rules to remember when you’re removing stains from silk – nothing too tricky, just simple ways to prevent potential laundry catastrophes:

  • Test the colourfastness. It would be a waste if your beautiful silk blouse lost its colour, wouldn’t it? You can easily find out if the fabric dye will stay put by blotting a hidden part of the garment with a clean, damp cloth (ideally a white one). If any colour transfers from the garment to the cloth, we recommend you go to the dry cleaners. 
  • Avoid heat. No hot wash, no irons, no tumble dryers. Silk likes to be kept cool.
  • Wash with a gentle detergent. Delicate fabrics need delicate treatment. Go for a non-biological detergent designed specifically for silk and wool.
  • Don’t use bleach. Harsh chemicals like bleach are likely to harm silk’s natural fibres. 
  • Check the label. Some silk items can be washed in the machine, some need to be hand washed, and some are dry clean only – bring those to a professional.

Now that you know the key points to keep in mind, let’s take a look at our step-by-step guide to removing stains from silk.

 

How to remove stains on silk

If you’ve just discovered a tricky stain on your favourite glossy silk dress, you might already be considering giving up on it. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Here’s a clever stain removal trick to try: 

  1. Act as quickly as possible – dried stains are generally much trickier to remove. 
  2. Carefully dab the stained area with clean cotton wool or a paper towel to absorb as much of the stain as possible. 
  3. Make a stain removal solution out of a few tablespoons of either lemon juice or white vinegar mixed with a similar amount of lukewarm water. 
  4. Before you put the solution on the stained area, make sure to test it on a small, hidden area of the silk. 
  5. Gently apply the solution, dabbing it on with a clean, white cloth. Do not rub it in. 
  6. Wash the garment as usual, following the instructions on the garments’ care label. You can find a handy guide to washing silk in the machine or by hand here.

 

So far, so good. But what if you have a little accident in the kitchen, and suddenly find yourself with quite a scary-looking oil stain on a silk shirt? Oil or grease stains on silk can look daunting, but with the trick below, you’ll no longer find yourself wondering how to get grease stains out of silk: 

  • As with most stains, it’s important you act quickly.
  • Gently scrape away any excess oil or grease. 
  • Apply a generous amount of talcum powder onto the stain, and let it sit for a few hours, or overnight. 
  • Carefully brush the powder from the fabric, and wash the garment as normal

And there you have it! Now that you know how to remove oil stains from silk (or any other type of stain, for that matter), you’ll never have to consider saying goodbye to your best silk clothes again.

Cleaning tips for all your housekeeping needs. Whether you're tidying up or tackling stains, click here & find out how to clean almost anything!