How to Wash Silk

Silk is a delicate fabric and should be handled with care. However, it is fairly easy to clean. It has a naturally tendency to release dirt quickly and does not always require dry cleaning to keep its quality.

Washing Silk Items

  1. Gently handwash silk items using very cold water.
  2. Apply a very mild detergent such as Woolite or Dr. Bronner’s Baby Soap (this soap will help preserve the garment’s natural oils).
  3. Rinse the item in cold water until all soap residue has been removed.
  4. Add a few drops of hair conditioner to the rinse water to keep the silk soft and flexible.
  5. Press the water out of the fabric by rolling it in a towel. Do not twist or wring, as this will damage the fabric.
  6. Hang the wet garment and allow it to air dry completely.
  7. Do not hang silk garments in the sun to dry.
  8. Iron only when absolutely necessary. Use a cool iron with a press cloth between the iron and the fabric.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Unless the tag on your silk fabric recommends dry cleaning, it should be avoided as dry cleaning will shrink certain types of silk.
  • Use lemon juice or vinegar to spot clean, but test an inconspicuous area first to test for colorfastness.
  • Be gentle – it’s the agitation from washing that causes this material to shrink. Even the gentle cycle on the washer is too rough for this delicate fabric.
  • To keep silk from yellowing, add ½ cup of vinegar to the rinse water.
  • Since silk is a natural fiber, do not use bleach as it will damage the fibers.
  • Be careful not to let hairspray and perfume get on silk as the alcohol will damage the fabric.
  • If you have hard water, you may want to add a tablespoon of borax to the water prior to washing.

Comments

  1. Lynn says:

    Silk is too delicate, most stain remover or spot sticks will damage it. Always check the label first to see if the remover is safe for silk, and test it first someplace where a spot won’t show.

  2. Lynn says:

    Wash silk gently in cool or lukewarm water with a soap made for delicates. Rinse at least twice, then squeeze dry without twisting – some people roll the silk in a towel and squeeze the towel. Dry the silk flat so it doesn’t get stretched out of shape.

  3. Lynn says:

    I love silk, and I wash mine right in the washing machine. Use your gentlest cycle and cold water, and a detergent that’s safe for delicates. Don’t use too much detergent, and be sure to wash like colors and fabrics together. Depending on what it is, you can dry it flat, or arranged on a drying rack, or with the no-heat setting in your dryer. If you use the dryer, be sure you take the silk out the second it’s done so that wrinkles won’t set in.

  4. Lynn says:

    But they do a great job on my favorite silk blouse. Especially if your silk is white or a light color, I say it’s best to let the professionals do it. They can get out sweat stains before the stains start to turn yellow, and they can remove spots you can’t get out at home.

  5. Lynn says:

    Don’t wash them with your pantyhose, no matter how similar you think they look and feel; silk is not nylon. Always hand wash, and if you must use soap, use just a tiny bit that you have pre-dissolved in the wash water. Swish scarves around in the water; if there are spots, rub gently to get them out. Then, pat dry on a towel and hang the scarves over a wide dowel (or your shower rod, if it’s clean and smooth) so they don’t crease and let them air dry overnight.

  6. Ana says:

    I washed a silk/cotton blend blouse and it turned yellow. Is there any way to take the yellow out and make it white again?

  7. Sarah says:

    Question: I used the washing machine to wash my silk and now it has turned rough. What can I do to fix this?

  8. Hmeister says:

    Hi…

    I have used Oxy-Clean successfully in the small aerosol container to remove stains from my silk shirts without any issues. It will sometimes cause a small water spot so I will just hand clean the shirt after using the OxyClean and air dry and it will come out perfect.

  9. Dorothy says:

    I have a very expensive silk embroidered bed spread and shams, which are turning yellow. Even if I hand wash it will the yellow come out? Will it go back to white?

  10. Lorri says:

    I washed a silk and cotton blouse in bleach; it got mixed in with towels and turned yellow. Can I get the yellow out?

  11. Dwin says:

    Some silks respond fairly well to exposure to water. Silk satin is not one of those fabrics. The texture of silk satin changes when exposed to water. It can not be changed back.

    Shantung silk on the other hand, ironed wet, will wash beautiful.

    Any silk: Once it has been turned yellow by exposure to bleach, it can not be whitened. It will always be yellow. It is a chemical reaction that can not be undone.

    If it is an important article of cloth, trust the professionals and don’t do it yourself.

  12. Angela says:

    Question: I accidentally mixed my crepe de chine dress in the washing machine! and now it has turned rough. Is there any way to repair this?

  13. Clara says:

    I have a silk kimono that is water damaged and looks like it is molding. Is there any way to save it?

  14. Chelsea says:

    Question: I was about to wash my clothes and I did not see my silk pants and I accidentally put them in the washing machine and washed them. The silk got rough; what shall I do?

  15. Sue says:

    Hello, I have just had my ivory wedding dress altered and when I got it home, there was a dirty foot print on the train, not only underneath but on top as well. What’s the best way to remove it? I have a spare piece of the material which I have tried treading on to see if it comes off with varnish, but I am afraid my underfoot mark is different from that on the dress.

  16. Sue says:

    To Chelsea: Apparently hair conditioner gives it that soft feel again?

  17. Debbie says:

    I have silk drapes that are too dark for my liking. I washed them on delicate with bleach, and they got darker. I have them air-drying. How can I lighten them?

  18. Tara says:

    I hand washed a very expensive silk blouse as per the washing instructions. Unfortunately, the color has run slightly and the silk has gone crispy – what can I do to reverse the color run?

  19. Eric says:

    I was at a restaurant and the waiter spilled red wine on my shirt. What can I do to wash it?

  20. Melanie says:

    Eric,
    There are several methods that you can try.
    Liquid dish soap is a great option since you likely have that available. If you applied dish soap to the stain, let it soak for 15 minutes, rinsed with cold water and if the stain is still there, you can repeat the process with a 2:1 mixture of peroxide and dish soap. However, if the shirt is dark-colored, it is possible that the peroxide could bleach your shirt so test a small hidden area first – under the back of the collar would be a good spot.
    Club soda works great for removing red wine stains and will not damage the silk.
    You can also try pouring a bit of white vinegar on the stain, allow the vinegar to sit for several minutes and then blot out the liquid.
    Another option is to use a powder to soak the liquid out of the shirt. Just pour cornstarch, baking soda or something similar (talcum powder, salt, etc.) over the moist stain and allow it to sit overnight.

    Source: Remove Stains – How To Get A Stain Out Of Silk
    Source: Pacific Heights Cleaners – How to Remove Red Wine from a Silk Blouse
    Source: About.com – Cleaning Silk Ties
    Source: HowToCleanStuff.net – How to Remove Red Wine Stains

  21. Michelle says:

    Hi. Help! I got a dirty fingerprint on my ivory satin wedding dress. What can I use to get it off without paying for dry cleaning?

  22. Karen says:

    I found the two silk/satin purses my granddaughters had in their Godparent’s wedding. They were an off-white, and need to be cleaned before I give them to them. Is there a safe way to do this? They have cord shoulder straps and a snap closure. Their names are embroidered on the flap. They are 3 3/4″ by 4 3/4″.

  23. Sylvia says:

    I’m not sure how, but I ruined part of my silk blouse. It has bumpy bubbles and a couple of small thinned out areas. I suspect it might be from using my clothing steamer too long on that area. Please help me fix this! Thanks!

  24. Mimi says:

    My makeup toner (alcohol free, supposedly) poured all over my silk blouse. Could you please let me know how to repair this? :( Thanks!

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