How to remove stains from silk at home

How to remove stains from silk at home


Previously I spoke about how to clean silk safely at home [Here].

What if there’s a stain? How do we remove fresh stains or stubborn stains from silk?

Process of removing stains from silk

The way to remove stains from silk is a simple two-step process. We start with spot treatment or spot cleaning, followed by washing the entire silk garment. Remember, always wash the whole garment after spot treatment is done to avoid uneven patches on your silk garment.

Is it safe to attempt to remove stains from silk at home?

If done gently, carefully, why not?

Today’s agenda is to empower you, with the knowledge to safely remove stains from most silk garments at home. I say most, because if you have a vintage, extra delicate or heavily embellished silk garment, its still best left to the professionals. Those silk garments may be strictly ‘dry clean only’ and best left to the expertise of trusted professionals, the dry cleaners.

The trip to the dry cleaners require little explanation. Let us focus would mostly be on how to safely remove stains from silk, at home. However, before we start the process of stain removal, remember to test for colorfastness of the silk garment.

What is colourfastness

Colourfastness is the material’s colour’s resistance to fading, running or bleeding.

Silk, fades, sometimes the colour of silk garments bleeds and may stain other clothing. Hence, always test new silk pieces or colourfastness before washing.

How to remove stains from silk at home
If your silk garment is not colourfast, imagine this happening in the basin of water.

How to test for colourfastness

If it’s a solid coloured garment, you can opt to put it in a basin of cool water and check if the colour runs. if it does, wash it on its own or with like coloured items.

If its patterned or multi-colored, use a damp clean cloth or damp Q-tip, dap at an inconspicuous area. If it bleeds, you may want to bring it to the dry cleaners, else the entire silk piece might be ruined when the colour runs.

After colourfastness of the silk garment has been determined, you may proceed with spot treatment or spot cleaning.

What is spot treatment or spot cleaning

Spot cleaning means treating only the specific part of the clothing that has a stain on it. Hence the term ‘spot’. It is usually done for garments that are fragile or contain elaborate details. It is also a good way to pre-treat stained areas before the entire garment is washed.

How to perform spot treatment or spot cleaning on a silk garment

Firstly, wet the area where it is stained. Then use a bit of delicate wash detergent, blot the stained area gently. Rub the silk fabric itself very gently.

I emphasise on very AND gentle.

Rubbing too vigorously or much on one spot may cause the fabric there to lighten, which cannot be undone.

Use lemon juice or vinegar instead of detergent for spot treatment on silk.

If you are out of delicate detergent or prefer natural cleaning agents, lemon juice or white vinegar is a good alternative or substitute.

Combine an equal part mixture of lukewarm water to white vinegar/ lemon juice. I use about 2 tablespoons of each for a small stain. Apply or spray this mixture on the stain and rub gently.

Can I perform spot treatment or spot cleaning on silk to remove stains?

Spot treatment or spot cleaning is the start to the stain removal process. Always wash the whole garment after spot treatment is done to avoid uneven patches on your silk garment. This is right at the top of this post, but I have to emphasize on this again!

What to do when I stain my silk clothing outside the house

The general tips above are helpful but slightly tough to apply if you are not at home. Attending to fresh stains immediately would make the stain removal process much quicker once you are home.

Here’s how:

  • If you have a fresh stain on silk, act quickly, the sooner it is dealt with, the easier it is to treat the stain
  • Gently scrape away any excess food bits, sauce
  • Carefully dab (do not rub!) at the stained area with a clean piece of cloth or paper towel absorb any remaining oil or liquid. Tissue can be used, but try to fold it thick, else it would disintegrate and pill.
  • If you’re near a sink, do try to rinse the only stained area with cold or lukewarm water.
  • Blot the wet area dry afterwards.
  • When you get home, start with spot treatment before washing the entire garment.

* If it is a patterned silk piece and you are unsure of it colour fastness, avoid rinsing it. Either wash it at home if it passes the colourfastness test or bring it to the dry cleaners as soon as possible.

Take It to a Dry Cleaner Nearby

If you do not have experience in caring for silk, especially vintage or expensive silk garments that are irreplaceable, I would advise to leave it in the experienced hands of dry cleaners. Dry cleaners have the experience and equipment to remove stains safely.

Word of advice, be sure to tell the dry cleaner what caused the stain so it can be treated appropriately.

Silk Cleaning Tips & Tricks

If you have decided to wash your silks at home safely, here’s some cleaning tips and tricks.

  • Remember to check for colourfastness
  • Never use bleach-oxygen- or chlorine-based-on silk. Silk fibers will turn yellow permanently, weaken and even dissolve in chlorine bleach.
  • When hand washing, never wring or twist silk fabric. It’ll damage the fragile silk fibers.
  • Avoid the tumble dryer, even on low heat.
  • Lay flat on a drying rack, or use a plastic hanger

As always, I hope this post has been helpful. I do realise that certain stains require more effort to remove while others come off so easily. This space is for sharing, if there are other specific stains that you want me to touch on, feel free to leave a comment!

Edit: Check HERE for a more detailed post on how to remove several types of common stains from silk!