How to clean a silk tie? The dreaded stain.
You're sitting in a restaurant and a dollop of hollandaise inevitably drops onto your expensive silk tie. What do you do? The natural instinct is to put some water on a napkin and wipe it. Don't do it!
You'll find a lot of advice on the internet about what to do with a silk tie stain and what to put on it (normally water, club soda or even talcum powder). Again, don't do it. Silk dye can run and it can loose it's shine. It's even best to shield a printed silk tie from the rain.
Our advice is very simple. Just blot the tie with a towel and get it to a professional as soon as possible. But who are the professionals?
Surely, you can take a tie to a dry cleaner? In theory, yes. However, there are very few dry cleaners that have the necessary machinery to take care of a handmade silk tie. The best you can probably hope for is for your tie to be very lightly hand ironed with rounded edges. Always ask for this.
Don't press the tie: Most dry cleaners will press your silk tie in a machine and this is very detrimental to its health. If it comes back pressed with razor flat edges, it may look nice in the packaging, but it's not going to look great around your neck.
A handmade printed silk tie is extremely delicate. It is stitched together with one continuos piece of thread. This is a loose stitch and if you delicately peel back the fold on the back of one of our silk ties you can see it. This stitch needs to be loose in order to allow the tie to stretch, flex and tie beautifully.
If a silk tie is not delicately taken care of when cleaned, this thread may distort as well as the interfacing (the inside that gives the tie its weight). The silk is perfectly cleanable, it is the construction at risk.
Cleaning the silk: Most stains generally need pre-spotting before dry cleaning. This is the removal of water and oil-based stains. Again, ask for this, as many won't do it and you may find your tie comes back flat as a pancake, with stains still visible, and a shrug from the dry cleaner.
There used to be services that would completely deconstruct a silk tie for cleaning, but these seem to have slipped away with the tie's everyday popularity. The only one we still know of is called Tiecrafters, but is based in New York. If anyone knows of such an establishment in London (or the UK for that matter), we would love to support them.
So what is the best way to keep your beautifully crafted silk tie looking like new? Try not to get it dirty in the first place and flip it over your shoulder in that restaurant (and show off that lovely lining). I know that's not ideal for those that already have a stain on their tie, but defence is always the best form of attack.
If the worst happens remember the following: Blot. Seek help quickly (don't leave it). Don't get it pressed. Ask for pre-spotting.