How to Clean a Stained Tie
Ties are wonderful, but they live in a dangerous place. Right there, in front of your chest, ready to take a bullet for your white shirt. In this culinary free-fire zone, only the most agile player will avoid eventually ending up with some combination of coffee, marmalade and marinara crisscrossing a beloved tie.
So what to do? Throw it away? As much as we would like you to buy more ties, here are some pointers for keeping your ties clean and dealing with stains.
Tie Stain First Aid
For ties of any material, there are some things you can do right away. The quicker you get at the stain the better.
Dip a cloth napkin in club soda (seltzer water). Dab the stain gently and get as much of it as you can. Don’t rub it, as that will drive the stain deeper into the cloth, and might make the color of the tie run.
If you got into something greasy, try to absorb it with talcum powder. Sprinkle some on the offending spot, wait a few hours, and dust it off with a clean cloth.
Care for Fabrics
If our first aid kit didn’t completely get rid of the stain, to take the next step you need to know what the tie is made of. Different fabrics require different treatment.
The three materials used to make Solid Color Neckties ties are polyester, polyester microfiber and silk. Polyester and microfiber are pretty hardy fabrics, and so are easier to clean. Silk is delicate and needs to be handled with care.
Most recommend hand washing polyester ties in cold or warm water with a little soap, rinsing them gently and drying them on a line. Don’t use bleach, even on a white tie. Bleach will destroy the color of your tie, and will actually turn a white tie yellow. Be sure not to iron the tie prior to getting any stains completely out. The heat of an iron will set the stain in forever.
We have also seen recommended this unusual and entertaining method for cleaning polyester: seal the tie in a plastic container with a small amount of liquid detergent (even dish soap) and hot water. Shake it up and let it sit for a day. Then drain the soapy water, replace it with warm water and let the tie soak again. Press out the water, and repeat until the tie no longer gives off bubbles. Line dry.
Polyester microfiber can be machine washed and dried, but should not be washed with cotton or other fabrics that produce lint. This material likes to hold on to lint, which is a pain. Also, don’t use bleach or fabric softener.
Silk should only be cleaned if it is stained, otherwise just leave it be. Some recommend dry cleaning stained silk, others warn against it. Unless used very carefully, the dry cleaning chemicals can harm delicate fabrics like silk. In addition, dry cleaners press things after they clean them which can also harm silk and leave a sharp crease that is not the way a silk tie should look. It should have a slightly rolled edge.
If you do have your silk tie dry cleaned, be sure to point out the stain to the cleaner so they know to pay attention to it, give them instructions about pressing the tie (or not), and ask them to use their gentlest chemicals. But if you don’t want to dry clean your silk, here’s another method:
First, don’t soak silk in water. Water is not nice to silk. If seltzer dab first aid doesn’t get rid of the stain, try a combination of heat, a light water sprayer, soft tissues and time. Lay the tie on a towel over a radiator or similar heat source. Spray the stain lightly and evenly with water and dab it with the tissue. Leave it on the heat source overnight. Repeat as necessary.
Other things to try: commercial stain remover or rubbing alcohol. Always test stain remover on part of the tie that is out of view. If it discolors the silk or makes the color run, don’t use it.
If these methods fail to remove the stain, then it is time for a new tie.