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How to clean a Bow Tie

The right bow tie can not only make you look classy and official, but it can also work wonders on your self-esteem. But the stained, wrinkled and improperly washed bow tie can make you look sloppy, and no matter how well the rest of your attire looks, you won’t be able to turn it around. There are many different speculations on how to clean a bow tie properly, some of which might seem reasonable, while others sound plain crazy. Truth is, that it all depends on the fabric and the gentle care. Here’s an extensive list of the things you need to know when cleaning and maintaining your bow ties, so they can stay perfect for longer.


Guide on how to clean a bow tie


Everyday care

The first important thing in bow tie maintenance is how you treat it on a daily basis. Pre-tied and clip-on bow ties are easy because the knots are already sewn, and you don’t have to worry about the integrity of the fabric. But the self-tie bow ties need a little more attention to keep their good looks. For once, when you try to remove the tie, try not to yank it too hard, because this can tear the seams and ruin the shape. Another mistake people often make, is to just loosen the knot and then leave it still tied and creased on a chair or something. This will certainly create permanent wrinkles on the fabric, it will look crumpled, and it will be difficult to tie it to perfection again.


How to store your bow ties

Bow ties are usually made from very gentle materials which can easily get deformed. Once removed, they should be hung up to help the creases loosen up a little. The best way to store your self-tie bow ties, is to get a tie rack. It will keep them organised, easy to choose from, and their lifespan will increase dramatically. Keeping them rolled or folded in a drawer won’t necessarily hurt them, but you’ll lose a lot of time trying to find the right one in the morning.


How to remove wrinkles

Of course, preventing wrinkles on your bow ties by storing them properly, is always easier than removing them. Another important moment is when travelling – bow ties shouldn’t be squeezed by other items in your luggage, many people even buy travel tie cases, they are mostly for neckties, but can also work for bow ties. If it’s already too late and the wrinkles are there, you need to take immediate action. First, you can try hanging it for a prolonged period of time, most slight wrinkles should disappear on their own. If this doesn’t work, you can try to roll it, pin the end, and leave it on a flat surface for a few hours. Then unroll it and hang it again for some time. And the third, but the least recommended option is ironing it.


How to iron your bow tie

You should also be very careful about the temperature of the iron. For cotton bow ties, for instance, the recommended temperature is no higher than 170°C, and for gentle fabrics like silk or polyester, the highest temperature you can use is 140°C. Avoid running the iron too many times across the fabric, because this will flatten it irreversibly.

How to clean stains

First, no matter what you do, never put your bow ties in the washing machine. This will disfigure them, and there’s nothing you can do to fix them afterwards. Second, forget about all the chemical products and special laundry solutions sold in stores. Almost all of them will make the colours fade, and some may even stain your bow tie. If you stain your bow tie, first you need to get a clean cloth and gently blot up the stain without rubbing. Then soak a clean piece of the cloth in a mixture of cold water and soap and use it to scrub the stain carefully.


how to clean a bow tie

How to clean a bow tie according to the fabric



Polyester is a synthetic material similar to cotton, but more durable. It’s wrinkle and water resistant, dries quickly, and it doesn’t shrink. You can hand wash polyester bow ties in both cold or warm water. The best drying method is to press out the water using a towel and to hang it to dry naturally. Ironing is not recommended, only steaming. If you have to iron, use the low setting, and make sure there are no stains on the fabric because the heat will set the stain for good.



Silk is a natural protein fibre produced by insects, and one of the most difficult to clean. The silk bow tie should be dry cleaned only. If you accidentally get it wet, hang it up to dry, without any pressing or twisting. Steaming is the preferred ironing method. However, if you must use the iron, make sure to place one dry towel beneath the bow tie, and one slightly damp towel on top. Iron on the lowest setting and keep the bow tie in the stack until the top towel dries.



Cotton is a very durable fabric and dries quickly. However, it also wrinkles easily and can shrink if washed in hot water. This is why it’s recommended to hand wash your cotton bow tie in cold water, then carefully press out the excess water. For best ironing results, you can use the medium or high setting, combined with steam.



The linen fabric is very light, which makes it susceptible to wrinkles, so extra care should be taken for linen bow ties, especially when it comes to storage. You can hand wash them in cold or lukewarm water, dry them a little by pressing them with a towel and iron them only on the steam setting, or by pressing them with something heavy while they are damp.



Wool is soft, but it requires a lot of care to remain in a good condition. Just like silk, you can only dry clean your wool bow ties, and only if absolutely necessary. Don’t use the iron on wrinkles, just steam them out when needed.


A few more rules which apply to all bow ties

  • Never use hot water or bleach on them
  • Don’t store them in plastic containers or bags, or under direct sunlight
  • Never wring or twist when washing
  • Always look at the care tag, sometimes manufacturers provide special advice for their products.


Author bio: Jane Wilson is a mom, a blogger and a manager from Melbourne. She is the head of marketing and social at Fantastic Cleaners Melbourne – an established cleaning company with a rich portfolio of services for home and business owners. She also has a small blog, called Modern Housewives, where she shares all kinds of DIY cleaning and gardening tips, and more.