A luxurious natural fiber, silk is a popular choice for garments, accessories and upholstery. While prized for its beauty, silk comes with the downside of being relatively high maintenance. It is easily stained, even when splashed with plain water, and those stains can be tricky to get out. Improper or overly aggressive stain removal can cause permanent damage, so it's important to treat a water stain on silk with care. Start with the gentlest approach and only move on to tougher stain removal techniques if the water marks remain visible.
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Test for Colorfast Dye
Before you try any method to tackle a water stain on silk, perform a quick test to make sure its dye is colorfast. Dampen a soft white cloth with water and press it firmly onto the surface of the silk in an inconspicuous area. Examine the cloth and if you see any dye transfer from the silk, don't try to get the stain out yourself. Instead, consult a dry cleaner or upholstery cleaning professional.
Water Stain on Silk? Try Plain Water
If your item passes the colorfast dye test, start by treating a water stain on silk using plain water. This method sounds counterintuitive, but water stains usually appear on silk when one part of the fabric gets wet while the surrounding areas stay dry. Wetting the whole garment or surrounding section of silk followed by even drying should lift out the stain.
With a fully washable silk item, such as a garment or pillowcase, submerge it in a sink or basin full of plain cool or warm water. Swish the fabric around until it's fully saturated and then lift the item out of the water, squeezing it gently with your hands to remove as much water as you can. Let the item air dry by either hanging it or laying it out flat on a towel. With upholstery or another silk item that can't be submerged, spritz the area all around the stain with a spray bottle full of water. Evenly press the area as dry as you can with a soft towel and then let it air dry.
Hand Wash With a Gentle Detergent
If plain water alone doesn't remove a water stain on silk, try hand washing the stained item with warm water plus a dash of gentle fabric detergent. Select a detergent labeled as gentle and safe for silk and use the amount recommended by the manufacturer. After washing the item in soapy water, rinse it in a basin of plain cold water and then let it air dry.
If you can't wash the water-stained silk item in a sink or basin, apply a tiny amount of gentle detergent to a damp cloth. Dab – don't rub – the water stain with the soapy cloth. Rinse the cloth with plain water and continue to dab the treated area as well as the surrounding area of fabric. Press a soft, dry towel evenly over the treated area and then let the item air dry.
Last Resort: Take It to the Dry Cleaner
If your silk item still has a water stain after trying to remove it with gentle detergent, it's best to consult a dry cleaner or other cleaning professional. Don't be tempted to use more aggressive stain removal techniques on silk. This is even more important if the silk item is especially delicate or valuable.