How To Remove Oil Stains From Silk

Have you ever wondered how to remove oil stains from silk?

Oil stains are tough to remove, and silk is a temperamentally delicate fabric.

Knowing what steps to take as quickly as possible, when it’s easiest to remove, is critical.

Due to the nature of silk, you need to know what you’re doing – almost anything you do could further damage the silk.

Knowing when to act on your own and when the best advice is to seek a dry cleaner is vital.

This could save you a lot of money and a lot of angst!

Are you looking for answers? You’ve come to the right place!

Ready to get started?

Important Silk Rules

There are some rules to keep in mind about silk:

Avoid Heat. No hot wash, irons, blow dryers, tumble dryers. It causes silk to become dull, pucker, or burn.

Even direct sunlight damages silk and fades its color.

Use only a gentle detergent designed for delicate fabric, silk, and wool.

Never use bleach! Harsh chemicals harm silk.

Test the colorfastness of the silk before stain removal.

To test whether the dye will run, blot a hidden part of the silk (possibly an inner seam) with a clean, damp, white cloth.

If any color from the silk transfers to the cloth, then you shouldn’t remove the stain using water.

Check the label! Some silk is machine washable; some must be hand-washed, some recommend Dry Cleaning, and some are Dry Clean Only.

The latter should be brought straight to a dry cleaner!

Never rub a stain!

Always blot and remove excess oil with an appropriate tool.

Act quickly.

The longer you wait, you’ll have to contend with set-in stains, which are more difficult to remove.

Items You’ll Need

The items you’ll need to have available to remove oil stains from silk are natural household products.

I’ll list and discuss them here, including some alternatives in case you need options.

A Scraper

Examples of a scraper are a dull knife, a spoon, paper towels, or an absorbent napkin.

These tools are great at removing excess oil from the stain.

A Damp White Cloth Or Sponge

These tools are used to test the colorfastness of your silk. See my instructions in the “Important Silk Rules” section.

Cornstarch/Absorbent Powder

Acceptable alternatives are products such as talcum powder, salt, baking soda, or artificial sweeteners like Splenda or Sweet ‘N Low.

Absorbent powders are used to soak up the oil from the stain.

A Soft, Clean Brush

Use a clean and soft toothbrush (old or new).

You’ll use this to gently wipe away the extra powder after the oil from the stain has had time to become absorbed.

Gentle Liquid Dish Soap/Soft Soap/Mild Laundry Detergent Specifically For Delicate Fabrics

Acceptable alternatives are baby shampoo, shampoo for oily hair, and a good grease-cutting dish soap such as Dawn, Palmolive, or Seventh Generation.

Pro Tip:

Never use dishwasher detergent!

It’s highly alkaline and damaging to silk.

Clear, Cold Water

I recommend using distilled water because tap water can be harsh at times.

A Soft, Clean Cloth

A white cloth is best.

You’ll use this to blot the stain to assess its status.

I love these microfiber cloths that I found on Amazon.

A Soft, White Towel

This is your secret Silk Air-Drying system.

Since silk must avoid heat, air-drying is the best alternative.

Lying flat wrapped in a fluffy, white towel is the luxurious drying your silk deserves.

Those are all the items you’ll need.

You may not even need all of them, depending upon how stubborn your oil stain is.

You probably already have most of these items – or you can easily improvise – which makes doing it yourself extremely cost-effective!

Step By Step Instructions For How To Remove Oil Stains From Silk

#1 Remove Any Excess Oil

Use a scraper, such as a dull knife or a spoon, to remove any excess oil.

Then blot (DO NOT rub) using paper towels or an absorbent napkin.

The idea is to soak up and scrape off as much of the excess oil from the stain as possible.

#2 Apply Absorbent Powder/Talcum Powder/Cornstarch

Lay the silk flat, somewhere out of the way, where it can sit undisturbed for a while.

Pile a generous amount of whatever absorbent powder you happen to have on hand, atop the silk’s oil stain.

Let the powder sit on the stain (absorbing the oil) for a minimum of 30 minutes to anywhere up through overnight.

Using a clean, soft toothbrush, brush off any excess powder and then blot the stain using a clean, white cloth.

If any stain remains, repeat the process, or move on to step #3.

#3 Apply Gentle Dish Soap

Apply a few drops of gentle dish soap to the stain, or an alternative soap from my items list.

Gently blot it into the silk using the damp cloth or damp sponge.

Rinse the silk clean of dish soap and powder using clear, cold water (preferably distilled.)

Blot the stain with a soft, clean cloth to assess whether it’s been completely removed yet.

Repeat the process until the stain is gone.

#4 Immediately Launder By Hand Washing

In a small basin, mix lukewarm water and a few drops of a mild laundry detergent specifically for delicate fabrics or an alternative soap from my items list.

Add the silk to the basin and lightly move it around in the soapy water, making sure the stain gets some light friction.

Rinse the silk gently and in multiple changes of clear, lukewarm water.

Using a clean, white cloth, blot the stain to assess whether it’s been completely removed.

If not, repeat the process until it has been. If the stain is gone, proceed to step #5.

#5 Air Dry Your Silk

Once the stain is removed, air dry your silk. Wrap it loosely in a fluffy, white towel.

Roll the silk up gently in the towel to press out some of the water.

Commonly Asked Questions

What can you do if you have an older, “set-in” oil stain on silk?

The steps I’ve laid out are adept at handling both fresh stains and older stains.

For older stains, you may have to repeat the processes a few more times.

It’s important to know when to ask a dry cleaner for help.

Are there any stain removers specifically designed for silk?


I’ve seen good results with a couple, and they get positive reviews on Amazon.

Puracy Natural Laundry Stain Remover, Enzyme-Based Spot Cleaner, Free & Clear.

It’s a liquid stain remover in a spray bottle.

Spray a small amount onto the stain and launder your silk days or weeks later.

The longer the product stays on, the better.

I found it on Amazon, and it gets excellent reviews, almost five stars.

60 pack Naturally It’s Clean Stain Eraser, Natural Enzymes Based/Biodegradable Instant Stain Removal, Spot Wipe

These wipes are incredibly portable.

You just open a wipe, blot your stain, and it disappears.

I found them on Amazon, and they get almost five stars for reviews.

When should you do it yourself, and when should you seek the help of a professional?

The basic rule of thumb regarding silk and dry-cleaning help is mostly tied to the manufacturer’s care labels affixed to each product.

These labels will have the manufacturer’s recommended care instructions for the silk.

They range from Machine washable to Dry Clean Only.

The labels mean:

Those recommending Dry Clean can be hand washed or brought to a dry cleaner.

Those labeled Dry Clean Only should be brought directly to a dry cleaner.

This is the first thing you look at when deciding.

Other factors involve whether you have everything you’ll need and whether you’re comfortable with the steps.

If you have difficulty removing the stain, bring it to a dry cleaner.

Just be honest; tell them everything you know about the stain to date, including everything you’ve done.


Now that you know what to do when you get an oil stain on silk, you’ll save a lot of money, a lot of silk, and a lot of panicky time.

Instead, you’ll be productive and feel like you’ve accomplished something because well…. you have.