How to Restore Shine to Silk

Carly asked: I was wondering if you had any advice on fixing silk. My boyfriend was trying to be nice one day and threw some laundry in. My fabulous silk blouse went through the wash, and I want to try and save it if I can. It lost all its luster and doesn’t shine anymore from the washing and drying. The fabric still feels smooth and hasn’t popped a thread or anything. Is there any way to give it back its shine? Is there an oil or anything at all I could use?

Silk is a finicky fabric, requiring quite a bit of care when washed. Although dry cleaning is recommended, many silks, lightweight ones in particular, can be successfully hand washed. The side effect of hand washing, however, may be a loss of luster. If your silk has lost its brilliance, the following process should restore some of that shine.

You Will Need:

  • Clean sink, tub, or wash bin
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Warm water
  • Two thick, clean towels
  • Padded hanger or drying rack

Steps to Restore the Shine:

  1. In the wash bin, mix ¼ cup vinegar for each gallon of warm water.
  2. Stir to mix.
  3. Submerge the silk in the water.
  4. Swish the garment around until thoroughly soaked.
  5. Remove from vinegar water and rinse well with clean water multiple times to ensure all of the vinegar, and the smell, is gone.
  6. Spread a thick towel on a flat surface.
  7. Lay the silk fabric over the towel.
  8. Top with the second towel.
  9. Press or roll gently to remove excess water.
  10. Remove the garment from between the towels.
  11. Hang or spread over a drying rack until dry.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Always spot test a hidden area before you begin.
  • Never dry silk on wood, including wooden hangers or drying racks. The wood can stain the fabric.
  • Never dry silk in direct sunlight or heat. Either one can cause yellowing.
  • If desired, iron silk inside and out on cool or “silk” setting when it’s still damp.


  1. Izza says:

    I can’t believe how well this works! I thought my husband had permanently ruined my favorite dress!

  2. Laura says:

    Thanks! It totally worked! Whew!

  3. Dana says:

    This does work! I accidentally washed a black J.Crew blouse and after air drying and trying to steam it, it looked dull and wrinkled. My shirt is a little shrunk from the wash, so now it is not quite as over-sized, but it has it’s sheen back!

  4. Erica says:

    I can’t wait to do this!

  5. Ingrid says:

    I really hope this works. I actually took my silk shirt to the dry cleaners, along with two pair of DCO pants, and the dry cleaner’s washed them! I was so upset; I had only worn the shirt once and the pants twice. I asked for my money back to replace what I spent on the clothes and instead of a refund the jerk closed up shop and disappeared.

    So again, I hope this works! Fingers crossed xxx

  6. Valerie says:

    I have a Dior scarf that was my sister’s who died suddenly and it was one of her favorites.
    I must have washed it in the machine a while back and it had lost it’s shine. Well, I followed your instructions and it looks brand new again and every time I wear it, I think of my sister.
    Thanks for the help!

  7. Nikki says:

    This did absolutely nothing for my silk shirt. I hope everyone else has better luck.

  8. Sonia says:

    I have to say this saved my silk pillowcase that was washed with other bedding in hot water, normal cycle. The fabric is still thinned out and more fragile, but at least it’s shiny and smooth. I used the iron and it helped a lot. Thank you so much!!

  9. Ben says:

    Is there a way to make silk not shiny?

  10. Sean says:

    How long should I soak my silk clothes in vinegar water?

  11. Melanie says:

    You only need to keep the silk in the water until it is soaked-through. Moving it in the water will help the fabric to absorb the liquid more quickly. As soon as the fabric is completely soaked, it’s ready to be removed.

  12. Sue says:

    I have found a silk chair in some things that were thrown out of a home that the people left behind. How do I clean the chair?

  13. Melanie says:

    This is the article that you need: How to Clean Silk Upholstery.

  14. Jen says:

    If it doesn’t work the first time, will it work best / is it safe to place the shirt back inside the vinegar again and redo the process?

  15. Janine says:

    I left my silk duponi wedding dress at the dry cleaners to have stains removed. They did a deep clean wash and now the shine has completely gone. Do you think this would work as well for a wedding dress?

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