Norm writes: I recently bought a lovely cornflower blue silk tie. I first wore it about two weeks ago, but it was only today that I discovered several small spots near the point or unknown origin. Do you have any recommendation on how to clean a silk tie? All I have ever heard is to not use water. Is it even worth cleaning a silk tie or should I just buy a new tie (assuming I can find a similar tie, of course)?
First, the bad news: you’re probably screwed.
There are, however, some things you can try should you happen to stain a necktie.
First of all, you can take it to the professionals. Don’t send it the cleaner unless you have one you trust absolutely to spot clean without dry cleaning or pressing. Send it to a necktie specialist. Tiecrafters, in New York, have been specializing in cleaning ties for more than fifty years. They take ties by mail, and they will spot clean your ties and refresh them, without pressing them flat as most dry cleaners will. The service costs $11.75 per tie, with a minimum order of four. Not cheap, but worth it if you’re talking about a favorite tie.
If you don’t want to take that route, you can try to treat the stain at home. If it’s a grease stain, first put some talcum powder or corn starch on top of the stain and allow it to sit overnight. Then brush off the talc, which will have absorbed some of the grease. This can be repeated until the grease stain is invisible.
For other types of stains, you can try a standard spray stain remover – spray it on the stain (don’t soak) and blot to dry with a clean cloth. This may remove color from the tie along with the stain, but that’s the risk you must take.
You can treat ties with a fabric protectant like Scotchguard if you like. I’ve never done this myself, but I’ve heard from those that do that they notice no difference in the appearance of the tie.