How to Remove Stains from Silk: Guide by Cleaning Experts 

October 5, 2023
A Dirty White Wedding Dress

You are at a fancy dinner party in Carmel, wearing the handcrafted silk blouse that you’ve been saving for a special occasion. Just as you’re about to take a sip of red wine, someone bumps into you, and splash! A few drops land right on your precious blouse. 

Or maybe you’re at a wedding, twirling in your elegant silk dress when a piece of chocolate cake finds its way onto your hem.

What do you do now? Silk is naturally absorbent and can easily get discolored. If you don’t act fast, that stain could permanently ruin your cherished garment. But don’t worry, in this post, our fabric cleaning experts at Universal Cleaners will guide you through saving your silk from any unexpected fashion disasters.

Things to Keep in Mind Before You Tackle a Stain on Your Silk Garment

Did you know that it takes about 2,000 to 3,000 cocoons to produce one pound of silk? One cocoon can give us one long thread that’s about 900 meters long, and it takes thousands of these to make a small piece of silk cloth. A single silk wedding gown, for example, could need the silk from 8,000 to 15,000 silkworms.

Skilled workers twist several of these threads together to make gorgeous bridal gowns, blouses, ties, kimonos, sarees, shirts, lingerie, and other clothing. Clearly, silk is a gentle fabric that demands special attention.

So, if you have somehow got a splotch or stain on such a delicate fabric, there are certain things you need to be mindful of before you get down to washing silk.

  • Always, always (always!) read the care label. Some silk items are strictly “dry clean only,” and washing them at home could ruin them forever.
  • Take a damp white cloth and gently rub it on an inconspicuous area of the silk. If color transfers, you are better off taking it to a professional cleaner.
  • Ever heard of water-stained silk ties or blouses? Water can leave spots or even change the texture of the silk fabric. You can’t just wash it like your regular clothes.
  • Regular detergents are too harsh for silk. One wrong move and your high-fashion silk dress could lose its sheen.
  • Hot water can shrink silk. If you do decide to wash silk at home, use cold water only.
  • Never twist or wring a silk item, especially when it is wet, as it will destroy the fragile fibers.
  • Do not just toss silk into the dryer. It needs to air dry, but not in direct sunlight, which can fade the color. Remember, silk cannot handle the weight of water; it needs to be laid flat to dry.
  • The longer a stain sits on silk, the harder it is to remove. It doesn’t matter how small the stain is, deal with it quickly.
Woman Doing Laundry At Home

How to Get a Stain Out of Silk at Home

With that out of the way, let’s get to the heart of the matter. Different stains require different treatments, so you need to know what kind of stain it is.

Coffee or tea stains

If your silk tie becomes the victim of a coffee spill during a meeting, don’t panic. Grab a cloth, soak it in lukewarm water mixed with a teaspoon of lemon juice, and gently dab the stain. The citric acid in lemon is a natural stain remover. Just remember to rinse the area with cold water after five minutes to remove any lemon residue.

Red wine spills

Quickly sprinkle some table salt on the stain. The salt will absorb the wine. Let it sit for five to 10 minutes, then gently brush it off. Rinse the stained area with cold water to remove any remaining salt and wine.

Ink stains

If a pen bursts in your pocket and stains your silk shirt, reach for the hairspray. Spray a small amount directly onto the stain and let it sit for 10 minutes. The alcohol in the hairspray will dissolve the ink. When you get home, wash with cold water.

Oil or grease

Sprinkle some cornstarch over the stain as soon as you can, and let it sit for 30 to 45 minutes. Cornstarch is incredible at absorbing oil. Brush it off gently and rinse the area with cold water. Oil stains are stubborn, so you will also need to follow up with a specialized silk cleaner or take the item to a professional dry cleaner.

Sweat stains

To remove those embarrassing yellow underarm stains, make a paste using two tablespoons of baking soda and a little water. Apply it to the stain and let it dry for 20 to 30 minutes. Baking soda is a natural deodorizer and stain remover. After it dries, gently brush it off and wash the garment with cold water.

Chocolate or food stains

First, gently scrape off as much chocolate as you can with a spoon. Then mix a drop of dish soap (not hand wash) in lukewarm water and dab the stain using a cloth. Let it sit for five minutes before rinsing. As unusual as it may sound, dish soap works wonders in breaking down food residues.

Makeup stains

Accidentally got foundation on your silk pillowcase? Use a cotton ball soaked in hydrogen peroxide and lightly pat the stain. Let it sit for five minutes and then wash off with cold water. But do a spot test first since hydrogen peroxide can bleach the silk.

Blood stains

If you get a small cut and some blood ends up on your silk clothing, rinse the stain under cold water right away. If you don’t see it dissolving, make a paste of salt and cold water, apply it to the stain, let it sit for five minutes, and then clean it all off.

Fruit juice stains

Mix one tablespoon of white vinegar with a cup of lukewarm water. Dab the stain with this mixture using a clean cloth. Let it sit for five to 10 minutes and then rinse with cold water.

Grass stains

Dampen a clean cloth with a small amount of rubbing alcohol and gently rub the stain in a circular motion. Let it sit for five minutes. Rubbing alcohol is a solvent that can break down grass pigments. Later on, wash the area with cold water.

Showing A Clean Wedding Dress to The Client

10 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Handling Stained Silk Garments

If you haven’t used the silk stain removal tips shared above just yet, or you are waiting to drop the item at a professional cleaner, steer clear of making the following mistakes.

  • Do not rub the stain at any cost. Rubbing can spread it and harm the soft silk fibers. Always dab gently instead.
  • You may have noticed that throughout all the tips we mentioned earlier, we have recommended using cold or lukewarm water only. This is extremely important – never use hot water on silk fabric, whether it’s stained or not. Hot water will set the stain for good.
  • Skip the bleach, even if the garment is white. Bleach is way too harsh for silk and can damage it irreversibly.
  • Do not dry silk clothes in direct sunlight as it can fade the color and deteriorate the material.
  • Never squeeze or wring out silk to remove excess water. It can distort the original shape.
  • Stay away from standard household detergents as most of them contain enzymes that can eat away at silk. Use a specially formulated silk stain cleaner only.
  • Do not use a hot iron on the fabric ever. If you need to iron silk, always use the lowest heat setting and place a cloth between the iron and the garment.
  • Avoid perfume and deodorant; these can stain silk. Apply them before you put on the item and wait until they are fully absorbed.
  • Avoid using home remedies like vinegar or lemon juice without doing a spot test first. These can leave discolored blotches.
  • We have said it before and we are saying it again: always read and follow the care labels on your silk garments. If it says “Dry Clean Only,” don’t attempt to wash it at home.

Choose the Trusted Stain Removal Services in Carmel, Indiana

At Universal Cleaners, we are experienced in removing stains, marks, and discolorations on delicate fabrics like silk, no matter how tough they are. While you might be able to remove minor stains at home, we can provide a much deeper clean.

Our team starts by doing a pH test and a colorfastness check on your silk item to know exactly what we are dealing with and how to treat it without causing any damage. We then use a biodegradable mild detergent that is specifically designed for silk. This cleaning solution is effective in taking care of stains without being harsh on the fabric or the environment. 

This science-backed approach ensures that your valuable silk items are not only stain-free but also maintain their natural texture and sheen.

We also offer a 24/7 secure drop-box service so you can drop off your stained items at your convenience. Our team usually has them ready for you within 48 hours. If you have any special cleaning instructions, just leave a note in the drop-box. It’s that easy. For more information, call us at (317) 983-5962 or contact us online.