A Guide to Spills On Silk


  1. Read the Care Label
  2. Spot Cleaning
  3. Hand Washing
  4. How to remove wine stains from silk
  5. How to remove ink blots
  6. How to remove sweat stains

Silk garments are a wardrobe investment that can last for many years if properly cared for. But life happens sometimes, spills, stains, tears. Whether you're new to owning silk or looking to refresh your knowledge, we wanted to share our hints and tips guide that we have developed over years of working with and caring for our silk. This will provide you with essential tips on how to care for your precious silk garment especially in relation to some of our most common mishaps: wine spills, ink blots and sweat stains.

At Silkinc, our garments are either pure silk or innovative silk blends all combined with other natural fabrics such as wool, cotton and linen. For all intensive purposes, treat all blended silk garments as you would pure silk.

1. Read the Care Label

Before you start caring for your silk, always check the care label. We always provide specific instructions for cleaning and maintenance. This label is your best friend when it comes to knowing what's best for your item.

At Silkinc, most of our garments can be machine washed but please do check the label before rushing to try out our home remedies. Always make sure your silk piece doesn't have a Dry Clean Only sign specified on its label, and leave the job to a trusted local laundry person if it does.

2. Spot Cleaning

Spot cleaning is often the best approach for minor stains on silk (and in fact, any fabric as it tackles the problem directly and avoids unnecessary carbon intensive washing processes). Here's how to do it:

  • Speed is of the essence and persistence is key!
  • Blot the stain gently with a clean, white cloth or paper towel to absorb as much of the spill as possible.
  • Mix a small amount of mild neutral to acidic liquid detergent (designed for delicates) with cold water. Avoid alkaline washing products such as laundry detergent and certain soaps. The simplest home method is to use shampoo or shower gel.
  • Dab the stained area with the detergent solution using a clean cloth.
  • Rinse the area thoroughly with cold water to remove any detergent residue.
    Black slip dress with red wine

3. Hand Washing

For more extensive cleaning, hand washing is the most effective method for stained silk. We believe this is always kinder to your silk and the environment compared to dry cleaning which often uses harsh chemicals as part of its process.

  • Fill a basin or sink with cold or luke warm water.
  • Add a small amount of mild neutral to acidic detergent to the water and mix it gently.
  • If you have had multiple accidents (why lie, it has happened to all of us!), do not mix different colored items together. They must be washed separately.
  • Turn your silk item inside out and submerge the silk in the water. Do not let this exceed 20 minutes!
  • Gently rub the stained area(s) with your fingers or a soft clean cloth; do not twist or wring the fabric.
  • Rinse the garment thoroughly with cold water until all detergent is removed.

Now, let's get into a little more detail on specific types of stains…

How to remove wine stains from silk

There are multiple options available to you, we will start with the natural remedies with items you might find at home before moving to shop bought options.

  • Milk and lemon juice: pop your item in a basin or sink and pour a dash of milk on the wine spill. Let it soak for about 30 minutes. Mix in a little lemon juice and water and soak the item for another 15 minutes. Rinse the garment with clean cold water. Repeat this process if the stain persists.
  • Salt and white vinegar: sprinkle a bunch of salt on the wine spill and gently wipe with a clean cloth to absorb the excess liquid. Then soak your item for about 30 minutes in a basin or sink in a mixture of cold / luke warm water and white vinegar. Rinse with clean cold water and repeat this process if the stain persists.
  • Sparkling water: couldn't quite justify the casual life of drinking sparkling water? Well now it might not just be that refreshing drink but also a cleaning hack! Start by wiping the excess wine with a clean cloth. Then pour the sparkling water onto the stain and gently wipe with a damp clean cloth. Repeat this process until the red wine spill disappears. Finally rinse the garment with clean cold water.
  • Professional stain remover: as a last resort if all natural remedies do not work, use as per the manual instructions! 
    Black slip dress with red wine

How to remove ink blots

  • Water and soap: pen marks, so easily done, especially with kids or at work! As soon as this has happened, rise the stain with cold water (do not rub!). Then soak the item in warm water and ordinary soap to form a solution and soak for about 15-20 minutes (if you can spare it!) which will effectively 'melt' the ink. Finally, rinse the garment in clean cold water. Remember, do not rub the stain! If at the office, you might need to stand under the hand dryer awkwardly for a bit…
  • Rice grains, alcohol and detergent: for stains that have been there for a while, you will need to use detergent rather than ordinary soap. There is a weird and wonderful trick before the proper wash which is to rub clean white rice grains into the stain, rinse in clean cold water and finally use a little alcohol to rub the stain.
  • Rice balls and detergent: If you want to get a little weirder, you can even try smearing hot rice balls onto the stubborn stain. Wrap up your item for a few hours, rub repeatedly and clean with neutral or acidic detergent.
  • Hot milk and detergent: heat up a dash of full fat milk. Apply the milk to fade the ink stain and then soak in a neutral or acidic detergent.
  • Oxalic acid: if the ink stain is blue, a substance called oxalic acid can be used. The ferrous tannate in the blue ink is oxidized by the oxygen to form a product that is insoluble in water. This is a higher risk option as the acid can cause colors to fade so it is important to test this in a small hidden area first. After completing this process, make sure the item is washed properly clean in cold water.
    Black slip dress

How to remove sweat stains

The yellow stains we associate with sweat are actually caused by antiperspirant / deodorant rather than actual sweat which is clear. The best solution is to make sure you let this dry before popping on your silk to wear as this will avoid the stains in the first place! You can also try underarm sweat pads. After a while however, stains may naturally appear, so this is what to do…

Water and detergent: prepare a mixture of cold water and neutral or acidic detergent. Stir until this is fully mixed. Soak your garment for about 10 minutes. If the stains are not severe, soak for only 5 minutes. Gentle rub and clean the fabric.

Salt and water: soak your item in salt water (5% salt) for about 60 minutes. Gently rub the garment clean before rinsing with clean cold water.

Ginger and water: soak the fabric in cold water for about 10 minutes. Slice some ginger and gently rub this in the stain. Rinse the item in clean cold water.

Lemon juice / white vinegar and water: a light solution of vinegar or lemon juice mixed with an equal amount of water can also do the trick. Soak the fabric and rise with clean cold water.

Back of black slip dress

So hopefully you have a few options to try if some common but stubborn stains find their way onto your treasured silk. In all cases, once you have washed your silk you should let your garment air dry (without the use of clothes pegs!) in a cool, shaded area, away from direct sunlight or heat sources. You can simply shake off the excess water - do not wring out any water and in fact, you can just let the fabric drip to dry.

You should also always test out the solution you choose to use on an inconspicuous part of your silk garment to see how it reacts, before applying it to the affected area. By following these care guidelines, your silk will remain a timeless piece in your wardrobe, ready to accompany you on your most stylish adventures.

Treat your silk with care, and it will reward you with timeless elegance which stays with you for many years.

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