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How do you properly clean a tie?
January 2, 2011 4:43 PM   Subscribe

Are ties supposed to be cleaned? If so, what is the best way? Or do you just have to keep them 'clean'? Because if it is the latter, then you would have a tie for decades and never have it washed, and this just feels dirty. I read online that since ties are made of silk, you would dry-clean them, but this process slightly damages the tie. I'm not talking about spills or stains on the tie, but just wearing a tie as part of your day (ie like a doctor). My alternative would then be to buy many cheap ties and throw them away every year once they seem to get dirty.
posted by eliluong to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (35 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
My local dry cleaner has lots of unclaimed ties for sale on their display case, which leads me to think many, many folks dry clean their ties.
posted by bluedaisy at 4:45 PM on January 2, 2011


I dry clean them. There is no cleaning process that doesn't "slightly damage" the article of clothing being cleaned.
posted by griphus at 4:48 PM on January 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


(I will assume people who buy $50+ ties go to special dry cleaners or something, but I've never dropped more than fifteen dollars on one.)
posted by griphus at 4:50 PM on January 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nothing to Sneeze At: Doctors' Neckties Seen as Flu Risk: "An 2004 analysis of neckties worn by 42 doctors and medical staffers at the New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens found that nearly half carried bacteria that could cause illnesses such as pneumonia and blood infections. That compared with 10% for ties worn by security guards at the hospital."

We have assembled a few general rules for taking care of your fine silk neckties. Follow some of this advice and your neckties should be well cared for.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:51 PM on January 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


You take them to the dry cleaners, but rarely, really only when they are visibly dirty or too wrinkled to be worn. Dry cleaning a tie somewhat of a last ditch effort, not something to be done regularly.
posted by zachlipton at 4:52 PM on January 2, 2011


I beg to differ. You dry clean your ties a couple of times a year, on rotation. And if there are spots, point them out to your dry cleaner for special attention. By the way, if you are at dinner and the course is slurpy, it's demonstrates much panache if you swing your tie over your shoulder, or tuck a napkin under your chin to protect it. Women notice! Ties are mad sexy!
posted by thinkpiece at 4:55 PM on January 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I worked in a restaurant for many years and wearing a silk tie was part of my uniform. I wore the same tie day in and day out and even working in an environment where I was constantly carrying things my tie didn't get dirty enough to wash more often than once a month. Then I just threw it in the wash with everything else and the dryer afterwards. They always came out fine except they were somewhat wrinkly after drying and needed a quick ironing. A tie would last me about six months before looking grimy or getting a bad stain before I tossed it. I imagine in an environment where carrying food was not required a tie would last much longer without needing to be washed especially considering the same tie probably wouldn't be worn every single day.
posted by FairlyFarley at 4:56 PM on January 2, 2011


I throw them in the handwash / silks cycle of my washing machine. They're fine.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:59 PM on January 2, 2011


You take them to the dry cleaners, but rarely, really only when they are visibly dirty or too wrinkled to be worn

I beg to differ. You dry clean your ties a couple of times a year, on rotation.

...I don't think you two disagree.
posted by griphus at 5:26 PM on January 2, 2011


They do need to be cleaned. If they aren't silk, you might be able to hand wash them. But often times the filler stuff in the middle will shrink and make the tie go crazy. To prevent this, dry them with a warm (not hot!) iron. This takes forever, it's probably worth the $4 to just get them dry cleaned.

By the way, if you are at dinner and the course is slurpy, it's demonstrates much panache if you swing your tie over your shoulder, or tuck a napkin under your chin to protect it. Women notice! Ties are mad sexy!

This is irony, right?
posted by gjc at 5:30 PM on January 2, 2011


My local dry cleaner has lots of unclaimed ties for sale on their display case, which leads me to think many, many folks dry clean their ties.
That's awesome! I'm going to check this out.

I picked up cheap ties from Marshall's, since the ties are being worn for the sake of being worn as a requirement. Even if the tie is not visibly dirty, it feels dirty to touch and wear knowing that it has not been cleaned for a while and it has touched so many things. It's like wearing a t-shirt for a whole week.

I wish there were cheap cotton ties or something that were machine washable. :)
posted by eliluong at 5:34 PM on January 2, 2011


I dry clean them, probably once a year or so. When I was wearing a tie every day, I did it about every 6 months or so.
posted by SNWidget at 5:34 PM on January 2, 2011


So how often does everyone here wear a tie? Say, wear tie X every Y days? What is Y.
posted by eliluong at 5:35 PM on January 2, 2011


If I'm taking a hot shower, sometimes I'll hang a wrinkled tie in the bathroom. I pretend the steam sterilizes it. (I'm pretty good at tricking myself into believing anything.)
posted by jng at 5:47 PM on January 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


My father wears a tie every day to work, and often on the weekends to synagogue. He's been doing this for over thirty years. He has maybe two dozen on light rotation (humorous, dated, ugly, occasional) with another 8 or so he wears far more than the rest of them (D.C. government lawyer approved). When he gets a spot on them he immediately tries to get most of the gunk off if he can, and he gets them dry cleaned a couple times a year. He irons his ties lightly when needed.
posted by Mizu at 5:48 PM on January 2, 2011


Response to OP's comment @8:35 PM: I wear a tie 2-3 days per week, during the academic year, and it takes me about 10 weeks to get through my collection of ties. I take them to be dry cleaned when they're visibly dirty or they need to be pressed. In other words, since I have about 30 ties I wear, I wear tie N about every 30 tie-wearing days. That's only an average, though, since some of my ties go with a range of shirts, and others can only be worn with a few shirts.
posted by brianogilvie at 5:53 PM on January 2, 2011


According to Sam Hober (best ties ever), you should dry clean occasionally but make sure to ask the cleaner not to press the tie.
posted by mullacc at 5:54 PM on January 2, 2011


By the way, if you are at dinner and the course is slurpy, it's demonstrates much panache if you swing your tie over your shoulder, or tuck a napkin under your chin to protect it. Women notice! Ties are mad sexy!

This is irony, right?

posted by gjc at 8:30 PM on January 2 [+] [!]

Nope.
posted by thinkpiece at 5:59 PM on January 2, 2011


Agree that you should have your ties dry cleaned from time to time. Cleaner will pretreat stains, dry clean and steam (not press - tie should not have creases along the edges) your ties. Some cleaners may be able to apply a stain resistant treatment.

Used to work for a dry cleaner and attended training at International Fabricare Institute.
posted by Agatha at 6:01 PM on January 2, 2011


I wear a tie for work. Only rarely (I think once or twice in 20 years) have I had a favorite tie dry-cleaned, after a spill, and the results didn't entirely satisfy. Usually, they wear out first, become too wrinkly and don't drape correctly. Also, I'm guessing some very intricatly-patterned tie fabrics wouldn't stand up to frequent or even occasional cleaning.
posted by Rash at 6:11 PM on January 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


By the way, if you are at dinner and the course is slurpy, it's demonstrates much panache if you swing your tie over your shoulder, or tuck a napkin under your chin to protect it.

Not in the US. There is probably some level of social expertise below which this would be seen as a genteel innovation, but I guarantee you that if you did this at a fine restaurant in any major US city you would be seen as a buffoon. Don't be that guy. The only people I have ever seen swinging the tie over the shoulder while eating are high-school teachers and LDS missionaries, two segments of our society not generally singled out for their panache.


eliluong, you sound like someone who wants washable ties. Washable ties exist! Ask the tie guy at Macy's or your local equivalent. Men's Wearhouse also has them. I know someone else who is a doc and who buys washable ties to cut down on contagion risks. Most washable ties go right into the machine and then hang dry.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:14 PM on January 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


These folks also sell washable cotton neckties.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:15 PM on January 2, 2011


And I'd say I have about twenty ties in rotation, each worn about once a month -- some more, some less.

demonstrates much panache if you swing your tie over your shoulder
and even more when said tie slips off shoulder, right into the food

posted by Rash at 6:17 PM on January 2, 2011


Hey, I was inspired by my own reference to LDS missionaries, so here is the motherlode of super-cheap washable ties!

They are less stylish than one might hope, but for $5 what do you want?
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:32 PM on January 2, 2011


I really hope you're not serious about throwing away ties and buying new ones instead of cleaning them.

My husband just looked at his ties and many of them actually say "dry clean only" on them. I suspect that many of these could also be hand washed in woolite.

Also, I dry clean a lot of clothes and never have I had anything damaged to the point that it's unwearable. I have had some of my dry clean only clothes for 10+ years and they are doing just fine.
posted by echo0720 at 6:45 PM on January 2, 2011


Yep, dry clean occasionally.

I "refresh" my ties (I don't wear them often, at all... but they get "closet smell" or just feel crunky) by folding them very very loosely without introducing creases, put into a paper bag, and stick the bag into the freezer for a day or so. After thawing out (hung somewhere dry, and out of the light, ie., the closet), they feel a lot better.
posted by porpoise at 6:59 PM on January 2, 2011


I wear a tie every day for work. It's a desk job and I don't eat soup or stuff that is saucy too often, so there isn't much opportunity for them to get stains. A tie with a stain is really the only tie I clean. Looking at some of the comments this is apparently gross to some people, but I really don't see the issue. If they don't smell and don't look dirty in any way, why wash?

That said (and veering from your question, I know), they do sometimes end up getting stains on them. Half the time I don't even know how it happens. Here are my results after attempting some of the suggestions I found on the web:

Hand washing with mild soap - removed the stain but screwed up the structure of the tie, making it hang slightly crooked.

Hand washing with Spray N'Wash - made a bigger stain.

Dry cleaning - tried this on two ties, the first one came out beautifully and the second one, while undamaged, still had the stain. After a second try, they told me they couldn't remove it.

Washing machine on gentle setting - have not yet tried this one
posted by Defenestrator at 7:12 PM on January 2, 2011


By the way, I wear each tie every 2-3 weeks.
posted by Defenestrator at 7:13 PM on January 2, 2011


Not in the US. There is probably some level of social expertise below which this would be seen as a genteel innovation, but I guarantee you that if you did this at a fine restaurant in any major US city you would be seen as a buffoon. Don't be that guy.

Seconding this. A napkin tucked into your shirt is not clever or appropriate, it evokes a bib and makes you look buffoonish and infantile. If you must, tuck the tie between buttons so that the end doesn't hang loose. Alternately, a tie tack or tie clip is a stylish way to keep a tie still. Mostly though, it's just expected that a gentleman knows how to eat without dripping food on his own shirt, and is self-aware enough to not lean over the table and drag his tie through his plate.
posted by explosion at 8:34 PM on January 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


thinkpiece:
By the way, if you are at dinner and the course is slurpy, it's demonstrates much panache if you swing your tie over your shoulder, or tuck a napkin under your chin to protect it. Women notice! Ties are mad sexy!

A paraphrased quote from The Advisor: fashion is shorthand for what you can get away with. But The Style Guy disagrees.
posted by chinesefood at 10:08 PM on January 2, 2011


I wear a tie every day and go through the collection such that most of them get worn every few weeks or so. If they get dirty, they get thrown in with the washing and get washed on whatever setting happens to be going. Careful hanging followed by a careful iron on low heat brings them up like new (usually). Probably best to read the washing instructions first, but those are often (not always!) very cautious and you can step up the washing method a bit from what they say (ie if it says 'hand wash', you can probably machine wash it carefully).

Unless you actually do something to get them dirty, ties should stay pretty clean in an office situation. They don't come in contact with skin, so should not get sweaty or anything. I only wash them if they look like they need it.
posted by dg at 11:13 PM on January 2, 2011


I've always dug a rule-breaker, albeit fully dry-cleaned.
posted by thinkpiece at 6:26 AM on January 3, 2011


slight derail but in public hospitals in the UK we have a "bare-below the elbows" policy and no ties, cravats, etc. The evidence for the dirt on ties, under watch straps etc., is too compelling apparently to ignore. Lots of surgeons I work with were really pissed off when that was introduced as ties allowed them to demonstrate their political incorrectness, infantile sense of humour while the daily exchange of Rolexes infuriated their anaesthetic colleagues.
posted by Wilder at 8:47 AM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


By the way, if you are at dinner and the course is slurpy, it's demonstrates much panache if you swing your tie over your shoulder, or tuck a napkin under your chin to protect it. Women notice! Ties are mad sexy!

In case you haven't gotten the point by now, don't do this. Bibs are for babies and advertising to the world that you don't know how to eat properly isn't exactly what I would call panache. Mad sexy is an untied bow tie around your neck at the end of a long black-tie evening (a real bow tie that is). Swinging your tie over your shoulder or wearing a bib is mad sloppy.

Lobster may be an exception. You still look ridiculous, but since it's the restaurant's doing, you have slightly more wiggle room.
posted by zachlipton at 10:11 AM on January 7, 2011


Thanks for all the help and advice, everyone. I have no clue how to mark this as best answer, because there are so many useful suggestions :)
posted by eliluong at 12:07 PM on January 23, 2011


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