"What's the best way to clean my tie?"
That's the headline of an advice column that recently appeared in Esquire Magazine.
I was intrigued by the catchy headline. After all, who wouldn't want to know the secret to cleaning a tie?
Especially given that ties don't take kindly to oil-based stains (such as body oils, steak sauce, salad dressing, etc.) and water-based stains (such as perspiration, wine, beer, coffee, etc.).
And especially given that ties absolutely hate being rubbed, wiped, scrubbed or sprayed with a DIY miracle potion such as club soda, hairspray, white wine and other internet-certified cures.
Maybe there was something to be learnt.
So I started reading.
The first few paragraphs were spot on: Remove as much of the stain as possible by blotting the stain with a napkin or paper towel. "Blotting is important here -- don't rub or grind, which will just smear the stain and push it deeper into the fabric."
Agreed. So far so good.
And what should you do after blotting?
In order to spare you the agony of having to read the entire article, I'll summarize their advise: Spot treat the stains using very specific, branded stain removal products; then hand wash.
The article even advises that you not to machine wash and to limit your hand wash to no more than 5 minutes.
(Aside: I always wonder whether the content of purportedly unbiased articles that mention very specific, branded stain removal products are, in any way, being influenced by a promotional fee. Just saying.)
All of this brings me back to the title of that article: "What's the best way to clean my tie?"
To say that the advise to "spot treat, then hand wash" is utter nonsense is being extremely charitable.
For the record, I'll stipulate to the following:
Fact is, no one's going to stop you. You're free to express your DIY tie cleaning skills in any way you wish.
You're free to pre-treat your Brioni, Cappelli, Cavalli, Charvet, Drakes, Ferragamo, Hermes, Kiton, Ricci and Zegna silk and wool ties with any miracle potion advocated by some Helpful Heloise who heard or read something somewhere about stain removal. And you're free to hand wash them afterwards if you so wish.
The question you should be asking yourself is not CAN I pre-spot and hand wash my ties?
The question you should be asking yourself is SHOULD I pre-spot and hand wash my ties?
Just because you CAN do something doesn't mean you SHOULD.
I confess. I have a bias.
But that bias has been informed by physically examining the results of DIY tie cleaning disasters from all around the USA, Canada and selected other countries on an almost daily basis over a 35 year period.
Here's my take: You should never pre-treat and/or hand wash your fine ties unless
Here's my best advice:
You could save a few dollars using DIY products and methods.
Truth is, you really have no idea what you're doing, do you?
You're just experimenting and hoping for the best.
You have a 50:50 chance of ruining the tie. If your experiment works, you've saved yourself a few bucks; if it fails, you've probably flushed $75 to $300 down the proverbial you-know-where.
That being said, why would you risk destroying your Allison, Anderson, Bergdorf Goodman, Bijan, Brioni, Cappelli, Cavalli, Charvet, Drakes, Ferragamo, Hermes, Howards, Kiton, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Ricci, Saks Fifth Avenue, Talbott, Turnbull & Asser, Zegna and other fine ties on a roll of the dice?