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How to Get Stains out of Silk? Expert Tips for Removing Stains from Silk

Silk is much more readily available now than in the past. People project a vibe of unique exquisiteness and an aura of everlasting elegance when wearing or using it. However, nothing can kill the mood more quickly than staining your delicate silk all of a sudden. Spilled food or drink may settle into silk fibers and leave a nasty odor. For these reasons, stains undermine silk, both its appearance and longevity.

Removing stains from silk is stickier and riskier than others, for silk does not stand up well to common detergents and violent cleaning. Made with one of the finest fabrics, silk items always assume subtle craft and elaborate tailoring. This poses a bigger challenge to their stain removal. However, this guide bails you out with expert tips on how to get stains out of silk, both simple stains and stubborn stains of different origins. Let us go into detail.

Step-by-step Guidance for Simple Stains

“Time is life” has a vivid expression in stain removal. For some simple stains, you can erase them in easy steps. And your silk may still be flawless after that. The keys are to follow the care instructions and act quickly and properly before they adhere to silk fabrics.

  • Step 1:Check the care label.

Some silk items are “dry clean” or “dry clean recommended”. You can handle them at home. On a different note, others labeled “dry clean only” should be sent to a dry cleaner. You can also pay some attention to the advice on the label, and choose the best removal way for your silk.

  • Step 2:Spot test for color bleed.

Prepare a clean white cotton ball or cloth. Dampen it with water and dab it in an unnoticeable corner. If the dye does not transfer to the white cotton ball or cloth, you can secure the integrity of the colors while cleaning. If not, the color may run in your washing so turn to the pros.

  • Step 3: Spot clean.

Add some silk stain remover or other gentle ones to lukewarm water. The water should be under 30℃. Soak a clean cloth into this solution and then blot it on the stains. Repeat this tender motion until the stains disappear.

  • Step 4: Steam clean.

Steam your silk at the silk setting or the lowest temperature. It not only removes bad odors but also rid the silk of the last stain residue.

  • Step 5: Hand wash.

Steaming has got your silk refreshed.  But if you want a better one, launder it as usual. If your silk item does not withstand handwashing, skip this process.

Step-by-step Guidance on Specific Types of Stubborn Stains

In my book, it is worth a try to address the stains at home. It even benefits your dry cleaning.

For stubborn stains, the aforementioned steps may work below the scratch. Do not be frightened of them, here comes the solutions. The following guide walks you through the main stubborn stains and how to deal with some of them step by step.

What Causes Stubborn Stains

Fight no battle unprepared. To address stubborn stains, you should get command of them first. The following chart classifies them based on their substances, origins and characters.

Type of stain Substance Origin Examples Character Water solubility
grease grease only plant, animal, mineral, etc butter, cream, olive oil, engine oil with an odor, easy to be stubborn  insoluble
grease with pigments Inorganics, mineral paint, ballpoint oil with an odor, easy to be stubborn and leave color low
 non-grease organic pigments plant fruit juice acid, easy to leave color high
inorganic pigments mineral ink, dirt easy to leave color high
protein plant and animal oat milk, soybean milk,


denatures under heat high
special ones inorganics / rust, medicine, iodine each with its unique technique of removal  /

However, most stubborn stains are a combination of different substances. Here are some common combination stains that may persist in the silk. You may succeed in their removal only by changing a cleanser and following some points. You can refer to the advisable cleanser and special points listed below if meeting with one. 

Type of stain Substance Suitable cleanser Special point
coffee plant pigments, oil, protein a mix of lukewarm water and lemon juice. Limit the removal time to 5 minutes
blood protein, minerals a mild enzyme detergent or an enzyme stain remover(only on stains) Avoid hot water; rub and rinse from the dull side.
sauce oil, plant pigments, protein, inorganics vinegar first,  baking powder  with stain remover Repeat several times


oil, inorganics, plant pigments Oil-free makeup remover, hairspray, dishwashing liquid Avoid water before finishing the stain removal

Apart from these stubborn stains, others may need to be handled both with different cleansers and by special methods. 

How to Get Oil Stains out of Silk?

The removal of oil stains should be done with no participation of water. You can remove them with dry absorbent powder, such as baby powder, baking soda, talcum powder, salt and cornstarch.

  1. Remove the spilled oil as much as possible with a clean cloth. Gently Dab them instead of rubbing them. Or they may spread to get a bigger stain.
  2. Pour enough powders onto the stains. Cover them with dry and clean towels. You can sit a weighty object to compact the powder.
  3. Make the powder work for more than 6 hours.
  4. Dust off the powder, and check whether the affected area is clean. If not, repeat the process.
  5. If there is still a residue, try hairspray or WD-40 on the stained area. A little WD-40 can activate a “settle-in” stain and an old stain, but be cautious to use it sparingly only on stains.
  6. After using organic detergents, you can apply humble dishwashing detergent to further clean the silk fabric and remove organics and odors.

How to Get Water Stains out of Silk?

Silk fabrics’s performance in water varies from each to each. Thus, some get stained by water whereas others do not. The only thing we can be sure of is that they are weaker in water. So avoid removing water stains by water. Instead, cleaning it with the following methods.

  • Method 1: Remove them with another piece of silk.

It is the safest but most expensive method. Find another silk fabric you do not need anymore, a white one for best. Blot it on the water stain several times. For a new water stain, it transfers to another piece of silk quickly.

  • Method 2: Steaming them.

If your silk accepts steaming, steam it and the water stains will disappear.

  • Method 3: Remove them with club soda.

Dip a clean cotton ball with club soda. Then blot it on water stains. Repeat several times. Then steam the silk to check the results. If stains remain, repeat the whole process.

Attention: If the silk once gets water stains, it is necessary to prevent it from touching the water again, especially “hard” water. Minerals and other particles in hard water give rise to a watermark on silk. If must, use “soft” water (without metal particles or minerals) or distilled water.

How to Get Sweat Stains out of Silk?

Sweat stains are of grease, water, inorganic salts, organics and protein. They become yellow and stick into patches after setting in the fabric. Worse, they may break down the protein of silk. Therefore, you should tackle them as soon as possible and with extra attention.

  1. Apply drops of lemon juice or distilled white vinegar directly onto them and leave them for about 3 minutes.
  2. Dab them with a clean and damp cloth.
  3. If the stains remain, apply a little enzyme stain remover on the stains with a cotton ball or swab.
  4. Let the stain remover sit for about 3 minutes.
  5. Dab the area with diluted vinegar or diluted lemon juice. Repeat it dozens of times.
  6. Hand wash the silk.

How to Get Wine Stains out of Silk?

Wine stains are of alcohol, plant pigments, etc. Dry salt can do the trick well to lift the stains.

  1. Scoop some salt on the stains. Make sure salt covers the affected area.
  2. Let it absorb the wine for about an hour.
  3. Then dampen a cloth with diluted white vinegar or diluted lemon juice.
  4. Dust the salt away and blot the stains with the cloth.
  5. Steam the silk or hand wash it.

How to Wash Silk?

After stain removal steps, you may need to refresh the silk item, especially when you apply some non-volatile cleansers. Generally, hand washing is preferable to silk items. 

Type Hand washable Machine washable
preparation spot test for color bleed, a clean container spot test for color bleed, sorting out a silk-only load
detergent silk detergent or a mild detergent silk detergent or a mild detergent
water temperature cold cold
cleaning mode gentle, no rubbing or twisting silk cycle or gentlest cycle
drying air dry, no wringing, no direct sun Air dry (no tumble dry), no direct sun
ironing silk setting or the lowest setting silk setting or the lowest setting

Additional Tips for Removing Stains out of Silk

  • Try to avoid touching water first during stain removal.

Before any treatment, submerging silk in water may cause it to shrink and aggravate the stains.

  • Avoid rubbing, twisting and wringing.

A silk item is more prone to wrinkles and creases under violent movements. Moreover, do not crowd it in a small container. Prepare a big one to let it as unfolded as possible while washing.

  • Avoid high heat.

The silk is afraid of high heat. It denatures and even degrades under high heat.

  • Use clean cloth or paper towels.

Paper napkins may disintegrate when you blot the stains. It worsens the situation.

  • Deal with the odor residue with lemon juice.

After removing the stains, a bad odor may remain in your silk. In this case, you can soak it with a solution of lemon juice diluted more than 10 times. Five minutes later, rinse the silk and line dry it. Avoid a deodorant spray.

  • Avoid harmful substances, such as smoke, perfume and skin spray.

You may not know, smoke is detrimental to silk fibers. Besides, any chemical solution containing water may leave a stain or a mark on your silk.


Can Dry Cleaners Get Stains out of Silk?

A professional dry cleaner can remove most stains from silk when well aware of where they are and what causes them. Therefore, you should do two things to ensure the effect of stain removal. First, find a trustworthy local dry cleaner. Second, make a deep conversation with the clerk in charge of your silk. Tell them as much info as you know, such as a stain’s place, origin, and what you have done to it.

How to Get Stains out of Silk Ties?

Cleaning silk ties need extra TLC for their fragile fabric, interlining and stitching. The best way to get stains out of silk ties is to act quickly to spot clean them. First, remove spilled food or liquid tenderly. Second, dab some stain remover safe for your tie on the stained area. For this step, you can use some items common at home when a proper stain remover is not available( a detailed list can be seen in the article about how to clean silk ties ). Third, dry the area of disappeared stained at a low heat. Moreover, you had better make an appointment with a credible dry cleaner to deal with stubborn or old stains.

How to Remove Old Stains from Silk Sarees?

Removing stains from silk sarees poses an intimidating trouble for their vibrant dyes and intricate patterns, let alone old stains. To begin with this hardship, you can try ways of getting new stains out of silk sarees first. Take specific treatments according to the type of stains, which are mentioned above in the post. To address old oil stains, you can spitz hairspray or WD-40. They can reactivate oily substances. Then, if the stains still remain, turn to pros.

How to Get Stains out of Silk Scarves?

You had better remove stains from silk scarves by spot cleaning and steam cleaning. Spot-clean the stains according to their origins. Then steam the items for better care and further cleaning. Silk scarves are a type of item that should be cleaned on a regular route. You can combine stain removal with the washing of silk scarves together.

How to Get Stains out of Silk Pillowcases?

Silk pillowcases are prone to be stained by sweat and water. You can get stain removal steps from this post. However, silk pillowcases commercially available now are often machine washable. Make sure to do the stain removal before machine washing.

How to Get Stains out of Silk Shirt?

Silk shirts are prone to be stained by sauce, coffee, and ink. In addition, they receive higher requirements for appearance and texture as a part of formal wear. You can apply the mentioned tips first. Remember to take care of it by proper steaming. If these home operations do not work well, turn to the pros. Do not manipulate the same stain removal repetitively. It may endanger unrecoverable harm in the fabric 

Does Vinegar Damage Silk?

To be precise, misuse of vinegar can damage silk fabrics. Silk enthusiasts always make use of distilled white vinegar to soften the fabric and dissolve detergents. However, as a versatile cleanser, vinegar is only beneficial for silk cleaning with the right type and proper dilution. You can use distilled white vinegar, rice vinegar and apple cider vinegar to wash silk. Dilute the vinegar with 10 times the volume of water. Too much vinegar may scale yarns and discolor fibers. Additionally, oversoaking silk items in vinegar solution should be avoided. 


When you get here, getting stains out of silk is no longer a lost cause for you. Only with some know-how and extra patience, you can address them well. Of course, taking precautions against stains beforehand protects the silk more effectively, compared to struggling with stain removal. In a word, the best maintenance for silk is to be careful in daily wearing and use and to handle a new stain with speed and accuracy. Sinosilk is a well-known wholesaler of silk fabrics and silk products. If you have any questions about cleaning and caring for silk, do not hesitate to contact us.

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