How to remove stains from silk at home

23 common stains on silk and easy ways to get them out

If you’re a frequent silk wearer like I am, correction – clumsy and frequent silk wearer, then spills and stains are part and parcel of life. I can’t be running to the dry cleaners every time I spill something! (which is every other day.) Think of the time and dry cleaning bills!

Case in point, last week I have managed to:

  • spilled curry on a silk top
  • left deodorant stains on the same silk top.
  • somehow managed to get blood stains on a silk slip.

All, in the short span of a week. Sigh.

On the bright side, this gives me the chance to share some tried and tested stain removal techniques with you!

It’s a pretty long post today, so feel free to navigate with the table below:

Click and Jump to:

Can I remove stains from silk safely at home

Previously we spoke about the general guideline to removing stains from silk [Link here] & how to wash silk [Link here]. Both of which can be done at home. Today, we will touch on specific stain removal techniques for some common stains. These stains range from food to cosmetics to blood and even mould.

I will be sharing on various stain removers to use and how to best treat these specific stains.

What stain remover to use for silk clothing

There are multiple ways to remove stains from silk clothing. These range from natural remedies, such as lemon juice and white vinegar, to chemical based products like delicate wash detergent and commercial stain removers.

Some stain removal agents are also interchangeable. For instance, baking soda can be substituted  with talcum powder or corn starch. While white vinegar may be replaced with lemon juice.

Can I use commercial cleaning agents to remove stains from silk

Only if the commercial stain removal is meant for silk fabrics. It will be stated somewhere on the product if it is suitable for silks and delicate clothing. If it is unclear or if you are not sure, avoid it!

How to dilute cleaning agents for silk clothing

Dilution is essential, using any of these cleaning agents at full strength is likely to discolour the silk garment. Here’s a general guideline for the dilution ratios. These instructions hold true to all scenarios in this post.

Lemon juice: equal parts of lemon juice & water

Household vinegar: equal parts of vinegar & water

Hydrogen peroxide: equal parts of hydrogen peroxide & water (minimally)

*feel free to dilute hydrogen peroxide further if you’re worried about discolouration.

Different cleaning agents are suitable for different stains. Here are some of my preferred remedies, which I think works best for the stains shared below.

How to treat sauce and food stains on silk

Remove any food or sauce remnant by scooping it off. Do not attempt to rub the food or sauce stain off with tissue. Rubbing would cause the food particles to settle into the silk fibres firmly, making it even tougher to remove any stains.

Instead head to the nearest sink, rinse the area under water if possible. Another option would be to blot the affected area with cool water, this would work in a pinch if you are outdoors without immediate access to a sink.

Here’s my silk top, victim to curry.

Although I washed off the curry with water at the restaurant, the oil from the curry has clearly left a stain on the silk garment.

23 common stains on silk and easy ways to get them out
Curry scooped off, oil stain pictured. Read on to see how to deal with the oil stain


How to remove oil stains from silk

Oil and sauce stains tend to settle into silk fibres and become more stubborn with time so it is best to treat them as soon as you can. Using a damp cloth, dab and clean the oil stain as much as you can. If the stain is at the edge of your garment, you may want to run that are under cool running water even.

Once you are home, wet the stained area and sprinkle baking soda on it. Give the powder sufficient time to thoroughly absorb the oil from silk fabric. Leave it for a few hours or overnight. Then, brush off the excess powder.

23 common stains on silk and easy ways to get them out
wet the stained are with cool water first
23 common stains on silk and easy ways to get them out
Put baking soda on the stained area, left for 3 hours.

If necessary, do a spot clean or spot treatment before washing your silk garment with cold water. Here’s the silk top, after its been washed.


23 common stains on silk and easy ways to get them out - oil stain removal
Here’s the green silk top on the left which was previously curry stained, post spot treatment.
looks just as lustrous as the pristine white silk top next to it

How to remove old grease stains from silk

Old oil or grease stains on silk can be more of a challenge to get out. The steps are exact to removing new oil stains.

However, as it is an old stain, more patience is required. You may have to spot treat and wash your garment several times to get the stain out entirely.

How to remove wine stains from silk

23 common stains on silk and easy ways to get them out removing wine stains

While it is still wet, blot the wine stain with a paper towel or napkin to get as much of the wine out as possible. Do not rub! If you have club soda or sparkling water around, pour that over the stain and blot it dry. Continue until nothing lifts off the stained area.

There are a few solutions to removing wine stains after getting home:

Spot treatment for mild wine stains

Spot clean the area with gentle detergent, diluted vinegar or diluted lemon juice.

How to use baking soda to lift wine stains

Wet the stain with rubbing alcohol. Sprinkle and coat the stained area with baking soda or talcum powder. Leave it for 30 mins, brush off the powder. This may lift off the bulk of the stain if its mild. Proceed to do spot treatment on any remaining stain.

Soak the entire garment in diluted hydrogen peroxide for big wine stained areas

Mix equal amounts of hydrogen peroxide and water, soak the silk garment in the solution. Soak the garment for anywhere between 30 mins to 3 hours or even overnight. It really depends on how bad the stain is. It is advisable to check in at 30 min intervals.

Hydrogen peroxide may lighten the colour of your silk fabric, so do remember to check in on it.

If it is a dark coloured garment, you may want to soak for a shorter period of time.

If it is a light coloured garment, or white, feel free to soak it for a longer period of time.

Once removed from the solution, wash thoroughly with cold water, spot treat any remaining stain and wash the garment. If the stain is stubborn, you may repeat the entire process until it is gone entirely.

Can I use white wine to remove red wine stains from silk

Using white wine to wash out a stain created by red wine will result in two stains. A red wine stain and a white wine stain. I do not know where the idea of washing red wine stains with white wine came about, but I do not recommend it at all.

How to remove tea and coffee stains from silk


23 common stains on silk and easy ways to get them out coffee stains on silk
Hot coffee and hot tea looks lovely, until its spilled on to silk

Blot the fresh stain to absorb as much as possible. If possible, rinse the area with cool water or club soda. Do not allow the stain to spread further while rinsing. If done quickly, this may remove the bulk of the stain.

Once home, spot wash with delicate detergent and wash. Soaking the stained silk garment in diluted white vinegar is a good alternative as well.

For extra stubborn stains, wet the area with cool water then cover it with baking soda. Let it sit for 30 mins before removing the powder and proceeding with spot treatment and washing.

How to treat perspiration stains on silk

For perspiration stains, you may use either delicate wash or apply diluted vinegar to the stained area with a soft sponge. Dip the sponge into the solution and dab at the stained area on the silk garment. Avoid rubbing.

Rubbing would potentially damage the silk fibres or discolour the silk garment. Dilution of vinegar or lemon juice is important for the same reason. Using concentrated vinegar or lemon juice would be too harsh for the delicate silk fibres, it may cause the treated area to be significantly lighter.

How to remove deodorant stains from silk

You may dampen the stain with rubbing alcohol. Moisten an absorbent pad or cotton with the same rubbing alcohol. Weigh down the absorbent pad on the stained area. Wait until the alcohol has dried, rinse the area with water. After that, spot wash the area with delicate wash or a diluted solution of vinegar / lemon water, then rinse again.

One of the best ways to avoid sweat and deodorant stains is to prevention. Sweat guards, undershirts, anti-perspirant or other protective measures help keep perspiration away from staining your silks. If you are using anti-perspirant or deodorant, let it dry fully before wearing your silk garments.

Can I remove deodorant stains from silk without rubbing alcohol

I ran out of rubbing alcohol at home, so I skipped that step and followed the instructions as per perspiration stain removal.

Sweat stains usually comes off easily. However, deodorant stains tend to be a little more stubborn. I tried all 3 methods, diluted solutions of vinegar water, lemon juice, and delicate wash. For faint or fresh deodorant stains deodorant stains, diluted vinegar or lemon juice worked perfectly well.

Old deodorant stains did not react to vinegar or lemon juice well. In fact, even with gentle detergent, it took a few washes before it came off entirely.

If you do not own rubbing alcohol and have residual deodorant stain after washing, avoid ironing the deodorant stained area. The combination of chemicals and heat will encourage the stain to sit deeper in the fibres.

How to remove blood stains from silk

There are several severeness levels of blood stains. It ranges from a few specks to a small blot to a tough large small pool of blood. There are also dried blood stains to be addressed. Lets start off with the easy one.

I scratched myself in my sleep and got a few specks of blood stain on my silk slip.

23 common stains on silk and easy ways to get them out blood stain on silk
The small faint blot of blood stain

It is barely noticeable, but here’s what I did.

Prepare the basin of cool water with delicate wash & wet the stained area with water.

23 common stains on silk and easy ways to get them out blood stain on silk
Remember to agitate the water after delicate wash has been added to produce the bubbles. This would help clean the silk better.

Spot clean with delicate wash until the stain has lessened or been removed.

23 common stains on silk and easy ways to get them out blood stain on silk
Notice how the stained has lightened significantly, continue until the stain is gone.

As the blood stain was really faint, it came off easily with spot washing. But what if the blood stain was larger or had stained through the silk?

How to remove fresh blood stains from silk

If the blood stain is more severe and still fresh, try this instead. Lay the stained item on a flat surface. It is important to make sure that the stain is not resting on a clean part of the silk, else it’ll soak through that area too.

Using a paper towel or absorbent cloth, dab and blot as much of the blood stain off as possible. Remember to change the paper towel when necessary.

Then, prepare a solution of saltwater by mixing 1 teaspoon of salt with 1 cup of cold water.

Either spray the solution or dip a clean cloth into the solution. Start cleaning the edge of the stain by dabbing and blotting inwards. This is to prevent the stain from spreading.

Every now and then, blot the area with a clean dry cloth to prevent the area from being too wet. If the stained area is too wet, the blood stain might spread and become larger.

Repeat the blotting with salt water and drying process until the stain is gone or lightened significantly. You may then proceed to spot wash to remove any remaining stain.

If the stain is tough to remove or if it has dried and crusted, try the method below instead.

How to remove stubborn or dried blood stains on silk

Prepare a solution of 1 part glycerine, 1 part delicate wash, 8 parts water. Mix well.

Get a few absorbent pads, I’d recommend clean soft sponges. Moisten the sponge with the solution and place it over the blood stain. Check in on the sponge every 15 to 30 minutes, it should be picking up the blood stain. Alternate sponges half hourly, remember to rinse it free of blood!

Repeat the process until the stain is gone or significantly lightened. You may proceed to spot wash then.

How to treat makeup stains on silk

Before we dive into removal of makeup stains, we have to identify the type of makeup or cosmetic that caused the stain. The most common cosmetics stains are marks from lipstick, liquid or powder foundation, eyeliner and mascara. For all cosmetic stains, blot the area gently with a damp cotton ball with the appropriate cleaning agent.

Remember, Blot, do not rub

What to use to clean makeup stains on silk

A general guideline would be rubbing alcohol for lipstick. Hydrogen peroxide for eyeliner, mascara, and foundation. Diluted household ammonia for other makeup stains.

Things to prepare would be cotton puffs, cotton balls or cotton swabs. If you do not have any of those around, you may try using a piece of masking tape or clear tape. Either would lift off fresh stains like lipstick or powdered foundation well.

If the stain is not oily and isn’t too bad, you may proceed to spot clean the area before washing the entire silk garment. Results may vary from a perfect silk piece of a hint of a stain left behind. That’s when you should really consider specific stain removal methods.

Of course, if time permits, always start with the specific stain removal methods. The steps cosmetics stain removal differ slightly. I’ll share more below.

What removes lipstick stains from silk

There are several ways of doing this. From the most efficient, denatured or rubbing alcohol, baking soda or talcum powder, to the most time consuming – sticky tape.

23 common stains on silk and easy ways to get them out lipstick stain

How to remove lipstick stains from silk

Denatured alcohol is the best cleaning agent for this makeup problem. Denatured alcohol is also known as rubbing alcohol. Use it straight out of the bottle, no dilution necessary. Pour or dampen a silk cotton ball, cotton puff or cotton swab with it. Gently, dab away repeatedly until the stain is gone. Do remember to change the cotton ball when necessary

Good alternatives are Chalk dust, talcum powder, baking soda. Sprinkle and cover the stain generously. Once It has absorbed, slowly use your fingers to brush off the powder. Repeat until the stain is gone.

The last option would be to use tape to pick the lipstick off. In my opinion, the least effective and most time consuming. I’ve tried but always ended up going back to using denatured alcohol.

With all three methods, remember to wash the entire silk garment once you get home.

How to remove eyeliner or mascara stains from silk

23 common stains on silk and easy ways to get them out remove eyeliner

Hydrogen peroxide removes pesky stains left behind by eyeliner and mascara, it works especially well for liquid eyeliner. It isn’t my favourite cleaning agent though. Hydrogen peroxide tends to whiten some fabrics when used undiluted. Do test a discrete spot on your silk garment before treating the stained area.

If all goes well, use a cotton ball or cotton swab dampen it with hydrogen peroxide and dab gently.


Scrubbing will definitely lighten the fabric and that is damage that cannot be undone.

How to remove foundation stains from silk

For liquid foundation, follow the exact stain removal steps from eyeliner remover above.

If the silk garment has been stained by powder, try to remove the stain with sticky tape and spot cleaning. If that doesn’t work, hydrogen peroxide will be the next best option.

How to use ammonia to clean makeup stains on silk

For other makeup stains, not mentioned above, you can use diluted household ammonia to remove it. Use equal parts ammonia and water for dilution, you may also choose to use more water to dilute the mixture further. This cleaning solution may remove any makeup stain from silk.

You may choose to use diluted ammonia instead of hydrogen peroxide even.

Keep in mind that ammonia is poisonous, use and dilute it in a well ventilated environment. Apply the solution to a cotton ball and wear gloves to protect your hands from ammonia contamination.

How to remove ink from silk

23 common stains on silk and easy ways to get them out remove ink stain

If it is a large ink spill, soak it up with a paper towel first. Proceed to dampen the area with rubbing alcohol and dabbing it try. Spot cleaning with gentle detergent or diluted white vinegar is a good alternative.

For small ink marks, skip the first step. It should come off very easily.

How to remove nail polish or nail varnish from silk

A trip to the nail salon gone wrong. Some nail polish remover and a cotton ball to dab at the spot will do the trick. Once the nail varnish stain has been removed, use a clean water soaked cotton ball to dab the previously stained area to remove any residual nail polish remover.

How to remove rust stains from silk

Leaned against a rusty railing? Here’s how to tackle this problem. Squeeze concentrated lemon juice over the stain. Add a layer of salt over the lemon juice. Wait for 5 mins before rinsing out the silk garment with warm water. Repeat these steps until the rust stain is gone.

Do not take the lazy way out and soak the stain in lemon juice for more than 5 mins. It will discolour the stained area and damaged the silk fibres.

How to remove paint from silk

Paint, in this case, refers to water colours. If its commercial paint for the walls, I have yet to encounter that situation! General rule of thumb, stay clear of silk if you’re painting.

Watercolours however, should come off easily after spot cleaning and washing.

23 common stains on silk and easy ways to get them out paint stain
If it is as stained as this piece of cloth, i’m not sure if its possible to save it!

How to remove urine stains from silk

Silk pants and the public toilet, a terrible combination. Especially one with a urine stained floor. It is easy to remove urine stains from silk, start with dabbing the stain with rubbing alcohol. Finish off with spot cleaning and washing the entire silk garment after.

How to remove vomit from silk

Babies and silk don’t go well together. Even the source of puke isn’t from a baby, it still vomit. Treat it like how you would treat a food stain. Scrape off any solids, blot away excess liquids. Rinse if possible then, spot wash and clean the garment once you’re home.

How to remove mildew from silk

Mildew or mould grows where its warm and damp. It discolours silk or leave spots behind. Mould spots are easy to treat if discovered early.

I tend to wear my silk pieces about 2-3 times before washing it. Once I left it hanging for too long after wearing it. It was a hot and humid time of the year. Horror ensued; mould spots formed on my black silk tee. But I was lucky, it was discovered early.

Brush the mould spots off. A regular wash with delicate detergent and it was as good as new.

What about mould stains that were discovered later?

How to remove mould from silk

Brush the mould off first. If handwashing silk doesn’t work, soak it in a diluted solution of hydrogen peroxide for 3 hours. Check at 30 mins interval and remove it early if required. Remember to test for colour fastness before soaking!

How to restore shine to silk garments

This isn’t stain removal, it is however a good trick to use! Soak your silk garments in a diluted white vinegar bath for 3 mins. Rinse off with cool water after. Diluted white vinegar has the ability to restore lustre and softness to silk. I find that it works even better than silk fabric conditioners!

Can Dry Cleaners remove stains from silk

Professional dry cleaners can remove practically any stain from silk. The have the right equipment, professional knowledge and various cleaning agents to tackle a whole variety of stains. Just remember to inform your dry cleaners of what caused the stain specifically for the best results.

However, if the stain has seeped in or if the damage to the silk garment is too extreme then even professional dry cleaners may not be able to get the stain out. When that happens, its time to replace those silk garments.

Final tips for removing stains from silk

This has been a super long post. It is also a growing project, if you have any other specific stains that has not been addressed here, let me know in the comments below. In fact, if you have an alternative method to stain removal that is even speedier or safer, please do share!

Hopefully this would save us hefty dry cleaning bills!