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How to Get Oil Out of Silk

The topping fell off my pizza and slid down the front of my silk shirt. It’s left an oil mark behind. I’m devastated. Is my silk shirt ruined? Can I fix it? How can I get oil out of silk?

Remove the excess oil from the silk with a scrapper or blunt knife. Then blot the stained silk with a soft, clean paper towel. Do not rub the area. Apply some talc or cornstarch to the oil spot and leave overnight. Brush away the powder and launder the garment according to the care label’s instructions.

In this article, you’ll learn how to remove oil stains from silk fabric. You’ll discover what household items can remove fresh and dried-on oil and when it’s safer to take your silk to a professional cleaner.

How to Get Oil Out of Silk

What Causes Oil Stains on Silk?

No matter how careful you are, you always get oil stains on your clothes. Especially when they are made from fabric that is difficult to clean. It’s like the oily residue just knows by instinct which fabrics to attack for maximum inconvenience and distress.

Silk is a fabric well-known for needing a delicate touch at laundry time, making any oil or greasy mark a particularly tough challenge.

The thing is, avoiding stains on your silk garments isn’t as easy as it sounds. Those icky spots on your silk tie are probably there because you are wearing it rather than because you were clumsy with your lunch.

Oil stains have more than one cause. One of the biggest contributors to oily splodges on your clothes is your fingers. Hands are like magnets when it comes to collecting greasy substances. Your fingers can get covered in body oils and sweat from your own body. As well as picking up oily grime from door handles.

Whatever is on your fingers will end up on your clothing when you straighten your silk blouse or adjust your tie. The goop will brush off, leaving an oil mark on the delicate silk material.

Food can be a culprit too. Fried food and salad dressings are both harbingers of the dreaded grease that leads to oil stains on silk. Even the smallest morsel of a cinnamon roll falling down your front is enough to leave a snail trail of oil.

Then there are the cosmetics you put on your body. Anything from baby oil to moisturizing body lotion can add an unwanted oil splatter to your precious silk shirt.

How to Get Oil Out of Silk

How to remove Oil stains from Silk

Before we start the process of removing oil stains from silk, there are a few things you need to know about caring for this delicate material.

Don’t be tempted to use hot water, irons, blow dryers, or other heat source next to silk. You’ll want to avoid moisture altogether for some silk items. Not only is the fabric heat intolerant, but some silk is highly allergic to water. Moisture can make the colors run and ruin the integrity of the fibers.

Check your garment’s care label before you get water from any temperature anywhere near it! If it states that the garment is dry clean only, don’t attempt to clean it yourself. You risk damaging your silk beyond repair. Head straight for a professional dry cleaner and let them treat the stain.

The next thing to steer well clear of is bleach. Yes, I know bleach is thought to be the go-to solution for removing oil stains. But some fabrics can’t tolerate bleach. Silk is one of those fabrics.

Your initial thought on seeing all the things you can’t use to clean silk will probably be one of complete panic. It’s OK. There isn’t any need to worry. You can get that oily icky spot off your best silk tie as long as you act quickly.

Your best chances of success rely on you dealing with the blob of oil as soon as it comes into contact with the fabric. The stain needs to be fresh and still wet. In this step-by-step guide, I’ll show you how to get new oil stains out of silk.

You will need:

  • Corn starch, talc, or baking soda
  • Flat surface
  • Scraper
  • Paper towels
  • Damp cloth or sponge
  • Soft brush
  • Dish soap
  • Bowl for hand washing
  • Clean bath towel
  • Mild laundry detergent suitable for use on silk

Step 1

Carefully remove any excess oil before it has a chance to spread across the garment. Use a scraper or a blunt knife to lift the excess away from the material.

You need to make sure the edge of the scraper is flat and free from any sharp edges. So don’t be tempted to use a steak knife or a bread knife. An old credit card or a butter knife would be ideal.

Step 2

Gently blot the stain with a paper towel. Don’t rub the fabric! Silk doesn’t like being roughed up. Just put the paper towel on the surface of the stain and push it downwards. Lift and repeat.

Move to a clean area of the towel as soon as you see oil on the paper. Use a clean paper towel if you need to. Keep doing this until no more oil is absorbed by the towel. This will indicate all the excess has been removed.

Step 3

If you haven’t already, check your garment’s care label. Make sure you are treating silk that can be hand washed. If the label says dry clean or dry clean only, don’t go any further with this DIY treatment.

Take the silk to a professional dry cleaner. Explain to them that you have removed the excess oil and let them take it from there.

Step 4

Using a flat surface, lay your silk garment out so that the stain is facing upwards. You’ll need a surface that you don’t need to use for a while.

Once your silk is completely flat, apply a liberal amount of your powder to the stained area. It doesn’t matter if you choose cornstarch, talc, or baking soda for this. They will all work equally well. Leave the powder to soak into the stain for 30 minutes.

If there is still some stain left on the garment after the 30 minutes have elapsed, add more powder. This time, leave the garment to soak for an hour.

Step 5

Use a soft brush to gently remove any powder that hasn’t been soaked into the stain. A toothbrush is ideal for this as long as it has soft bristles. Grab a clean cloth and blot the stain.

Step 6

Next, apply a couple of drops of dish soap to the stain residue. It needs to be dish soap for hand washing dishes, not dishwasher soap. With your damp cloth or sponge, carefully dab the dish soap into the remainder of the stain.

Step 7

Rinse the dish soap out using cold water. Blot with a paper towel and check for signs of the stain. If it is still there, add some more dish soap and repeat this step. When you are happy all traces are gone, move on to step 8.

Step 8

Hand wash your silk in a bowl using a mild detergent suitable for silk or delicate fabrics. The water should be lukewarm so as not to damage the silk. Very carefully swirl the silk around in the water. Not too harshly, silk is easy to damage when it’s wet.

Make sure the stain is fully submerged so that the detergent can get to work on it. Rinse the silk using lukewarm clear water. Keep rinsing until you are sure all the detergent has been removed. Then blot with a clean cloth.

Step 9

As soon as you are satisfied that all the stain has gone, you can begin to dry your silk. First, roll it up in your bath towel. This will soak up the excess water and help to dry the garment. Once the silk has stopped dripping, you can air dry it by laying it on a flat surface.

How to Get Dried Oil Out of Silk

Getting dried oil stains out of delicate silk fabric can be a bit of a challenge. However, it is possible. Most of the time, an extra light touch and a huge dollop of patience are all you need for stain-removing success.

As with fresh oil stains, you do need to avoid some cleaning products when treating silk fabrics. Bleach is a definite no-no. So too, is heat. Regardless of whether it’s the water temperature or your drying techniques.

I’ve said this before, but it’s important, so I will say it again. Always check your garment’s care label before subjecting your silk to water. Some silk cannot be washed under any circumstances.

Dry clean only silk should not be treated using any of the methods in this article. Don’t risk it! Take the silk straight to the dry cleaner.

For washable silk, the method to remove dried-on oil stains is fairly similar to the one for fresh stains. It will take a bit longer, though and you may have to repeat the process several times. Let’s find out how to get rid of pesky dry oil stains in this step-by-step guide.

You will need:

  • Corn starch, talc, or baking soda
  • Flat surface
  • Clean cloth
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Soft brush
  • Diluted dish soap or baby shampoo
  • Mild laundry detergent suitable for use on silk
  • Bath towel
  • Patience

Step 1
Lay your silk garment on a flat surface with the stain facing upwards. It needs to be a surface where you can leave your silk without disturbing it.

Step 2
Apply cornstarch, talc, or baking soda to the stain. Be liberal with the powder but try to keep it in the stained area as much as possible. Leave the powder to soak up the oil stain overnight.

Use talc, which works better than the other powders on dried stains. It also leaves a nice fresh smelling fragrance behind.

Step 3
Using your soft brush, gently wipe away the excess powder. Check the stain. If it looks as though there is still some residual goop, reapply the powder and leave it to soak overnight.

Step 4
If you’ve repeated step 3 a couple of times without success, try a solution of 1 part distilled white vinegar to 1 part lukewarm water. You can also use diluted dish soap or diluted baby shampoo.

Add the solution to the stain with a clean cloth and dab it in. Don’t rub as this will damage the material. Rinse the solution out of the silk with clean water.

Vinegar works in the same way as dish soap and baby shampoo. All three will eat away the oil and break down its bond with the material. However, vinegar might be the safer option. It doesn’t create soap suds, so it needs less water to rinse it out of the silk. The less water you need to use, the better your silk will survive.

Step 5
Hand wash your silk using a mild detergent suitable for silk products. You want to minimize your silk’s exposure to the water as much as possible. Only use the dosage recommended on the detergent packaging.

Don’t be tempted to twist or rub your silk while it is in the water. This will damage the fabric. Instead, gently swirl the silk so the water can lap at the fabric and the stained area.

Step 6
Dry your silk by rolling it into a bath towel. The towel will absorb the excess water from the silk, so you don’t have to wring it out. Then, once the silk has stopped dripping, air dry it by laying it out on top of a flat surface.

Should I Take My Silk to a Professional Dry Cleaner?

There are times when you should take your silk to a professional dry cleaner. If you’ve attempted to clean it yourself and still have a stain, it might be time to admit defeat.

Professional dry cleaners have the products, the equipment, and the training to deal with any stain. Take your silk garment to them and let them know what steps you have taken to try to clean it yourself. They will be able to assess the silk and take the necessary action to rid you of that annoying oil mark.

Better still, they will be able to care for your silk so that it stays in tip-top condition. When you get your garment back, it will look as good as new.

You should always take your silk to a dry cleaner if the care label says, “Dry Clean Only”. This indicates that the silk is water intolerant and should never be washed. As home remedies for oil stains tend to involve water, you could cause irreparable damage to your garment.

If you don’t know what kind of silk you have, don’t risk washing it. Particularly if the silk is white, pale, or has even the slightest hint of a multicolored pattern. Silk isn’t always colorfast and can be prone to color bleed. Washing pale-colored silk, especially white, can lead to water marks being left behind.

Sometimes, it’s better to err on the side of caution and take your silk to a professional dry cleaner. Seriously, the cost of a dry cleaning bill is a lot cheaper than replacing your silk.


Getting oil stains out of silk is a lot easier than you think. Patience and a delicate touch are all you need to remove blobs of grease from your silk garment.

Have you ever had to get oil out of silk? What method did you use? Did you take your silk to the dry cleaner? Let me know in the comments.