How to Remove an Oil Stain From Silk

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Things You'll Need

  • Liquid dish soap

  • Eyedropper

  • Clean sponge

  • Soft brush

  • Baby shampoo or detergent for hand washables

  • Absorbent white towel

  • Padded hanger


If the dish-soap solution does not effectively remove the oil stain, you may need to make a stronger solution. Increase the detergent to 2 parts in 10 parts water, but test the solution on an inner seam before treating the stain.


Never use bleach on silk -- the chlorine may dissolve the fabric. Never use bleach substitutes or products containing enzymes, which can destroy silk and other natural fibers.

Never attempt to remove an oil stain by rubbing the silk with bar soap; the soap may set the stain.

Luxurious natural fibers make silk garments cool, comfortable and long-lasting. If an accident happens and your silk is stained with oil, act quickly. Even oily stains such as hair oil, lotion, salad dressing and butter can be easy to remove if treated promptly -- but stains left untreated for 24 hours or more may be difficult or impossible to remove. Always read the garment care tag first. If the tag indicates the silk is not washable, take the garment to a professional dry cleaner.


Step 1

Make a gentle stain removal solution by mixing 1 part liquid dish soap with 10 parts water. Never attempt to remove a stain by using dishwasher detergent -- it is highly alkaline and may damage the silk.

Step 2

Test the fabric for colorfastness before you treat the stain. Use an eyedropper to place a drop of the solution on a hidden inner seam, and then let the solution penetrate the fabric for one to two minutes. If the silk fades or discolors, take the garment to a professional dry cleaner.


Step 3

Apply a small amount of the soap solution to the stain with an eyedropper or a clean sponge. Tap the solution gently into the stain with your fingertips or a clean, soft brush. Let it penetrate the stain for five to 10 minutes.

Step 4

Launder the garment immediately, according to the garment care tag. If appropriate, wash the garment in lukewarm water and a few drops of baby shampoo or a detergent manufactured for hand washables. Silk should be agitated very gently if at all, advise fabric care experts at Oregon State University Extension.


Step 5

Rinse the silk gently in clear water.

Step 6

Inspect the garment and repeat the stain removal process if the stain is still visible. If the stain is gone, wrap the garment loosely in a soft white towel, and then lay it flat to dry or hang it on a padded hanger.


references & resources

M.H. Dyer

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.