How to Wash Silk Clothing

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How to Wash Silk Clothing

Washing silk garments can be daunting given that silk is a very delicate fabric and can be easily damaged if not cared for properly. You might think that all silk clothing should simply be shipped off to the dry cleaners each time it needs to be washed, and while this might be the case for some garments, it is also possible to safely wash lots of silk clothing items at home without causing any damage to them.

The worst thing you can possibly do when it comes to washing your silk clothing is to reach for bleach or any other harmful chemical ingredients. Chemical-rich detergents and cleaning agents are simply too harsh for delicate silk fibers and will cause irreversible damage to the garment, as well as being awful for you and the environment. This can leave you asking, how to wash silk clothing and items?

Instead, opt for all-natural ingredients that will gently clean the fabric fibers without stripping any color or causing fabric pulls or pilling.

By following the guidelines laid out below, you should be able to determine whether or not your silk garments can be safely washed at home, and if so, how to do this, or whether they do in fact require the services of a professional.

How to Wash Silk Clothing

Always Start by Consulting the Fabric Care Label

The first step in how to wash silk clothing, whether that is by hand or in the washing machine, is to make sure you check the garment’s fabric care label before starting.

If the label says that the item is ‘dry-clean only’, you will need to have the garment washed by a professional. If it doesn’t, however, you should be able to wash the garment at home.

Silk is extremely prone to color bleeding, so it is important that you check the label for a colorfast guarantee. If you can’t find one, you can carry out a quick test to see whether the color is likely to run in the wash.

Simply take an inconspicuous area of the fabric and dab it with a small amount of water. If you see color bleeding, it is best to take the item to the dry cleaners, but if there is no bleeding or if the garment is one solid color, you should be able to wash it safely at home.

Your care label should also give you some basic advice on how best to wash the item and whether this should be done by hand or in the washing machine, so it’s super important that you check here before simply tossing the items in the wash with the rest of your laundry.

Pre-Treating Your Silk Clothing

If your silk item is stained or marked, you should start by pre-treating it before moving on to the full wash.

To do this, you can mix your own DIY stain-treatment solution to effectively lift stains before washing. Simply take a clean, empty spray bottle and mix two cups of lukewarm water with half a cup of white vinegar.

Spritz the solution over the stain and use a gentle sponge or fabric cloth to work it into the garment. You need to be super gentle here to avoid pulling or agitating the fabric too much as this will cause it to become textured.

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The white vinegar works to cut through and lift the stain out of the fabric while also neutralizing any odors.

If you have more than one stain on the item or if you’re trying to remove unpleasant odors, you can also soak the entire garment in the vinegar and water solution for up to thirty minutes prior to washing.

Related: How to Get Ink Stains Out of Clothes

Washing Silk Garments in a Washing Machine

Washing your silk clothing in the washing machine might seem a little risky, but it can be done safely if you follow these tips…

Start by turning the garment inside out and place it into a mesh wash bag as this will protect it from any damage caused by excess abrasion. In most cases, we recommend washing the silk garment alone to avoid damage or color bleeding, but if it is colorfast and in a secure mesh bag, you should be able to wash it with other similar laundry items of the same color. Just avoid super heavy or rigid fabrics such as denim.

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Next, take your chosen all-natural laundry detergent. When working with silk you should opt for a detergent that is super gentle and has no synthetic dyes or chemicals to avoid any irreversible damage. Don’t use fabric softeners with your silk clothing as these can cause pilling and may actually cause your silk items to come out of the washing machine feeling considerably less soft than when they went in.

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After this, you will need to select an appropriate wash cycle. Again, consult your care label to find out what the manufacturer recommends. Typically, you will want to choose a setting with the shortest spin and a low temperature. Most machines have a delicate wash option which should be suitable.

Run the cycle and be ready to take the items out as soon as it is complete to avoid creasing.

Washing Silk Garments by Hand

If your care label recommends that you hand wash your silk items, or if you simply feel that this is a better option for you, this is the method we recommend:

Start, again, by turning the item inside out. Then, fill a basin or bathtub with cool water and place the garments in the water. Add in roughly half a cup of your chosen laundry detergent. Again, this should be super gentle and all-natural to avoid damage to the fabric fibers.

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Allow the item to soak in the water and detergent for around three to five minutes before using your hands to plunge it up and down in the liquid. Do this for around five minutes until the garment has been thoroughly cleaned.

Take the item out of the basin and rinse with cold water until the water runs clear and there are no suds or soapy residues on the garment.

Use a soft, non-abrasive towel to soak up any excess water but avoid rubbing the item.

Related: How to Get Paint Out of Clothes

Drying Silk Garments

Drying your silk clothing properly is equally as important as washing it in our How to Wash Silk Clothing guide. If your silk garments are not dried using an appropriate method or are left damp for too long, they can quickly become stretched, misshapen, or extremely creased.

The best way of drying silk clothing is by hanging it on a drying rack or laying it flat in a well-ventilated space. Never dry your silk clothes in direct sunlight as this is likely to cause bleaching and color loss. If you choose to hang the item to dry, do so carefully to prevent it from becoming misshapen or stretched.

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If the item is creased after drying, you may be able to use an iron to remove the wrinkles, but only when the item is thoroughly dried, and again, always consult the care label before doing so. If you are going to iron the garment, be sure to turn it inside out beforehand and use the lowest heat setting possible.

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Frequently Asked Questions

The Care Label Says ‘Dry Clean’ But Not ‘Dry Clean Only’, So Can I Wash The Item at Home?

If your care label says ‘dry clean only’ then the item must be taken to a professional to be cleaned. If the label says ‘dry clean’, this is a recommendation but means that you may be able to wash the item at home if the appropriate methods and products are used, as shown above.

How Should Silk Clothing be Stored?

For everyday items, silk can be hung in your closet on velvet hangers. Try to avoid hanging your silk items next to abrasive garments such as denim or bulky jackets. If possible, use garment bags to protect the delicate fabric.

For more long-term storage, keep silk items in secure bags once they have been thoroughly cleaned and dried to avoid any moth damage or dampness.

Can Silk Clothing be Steam Cleaned?

Steam cleaning is not recommended for silk clothing items because the high temperatures can cause stretching and loosening of the fabric fibers. A basic rule of thumb when cleaning and drying your silk clothing is to always use low temperatures, so steam cleaning is not the best option.

Related: How to Wash Linen Sheets (Plus Soften and Dry)

Final Thoughts on How to Wash Silk Clothing

Washing your silk clothing items may seem like an intimidating task, and you could be inclined to simply hand them over to a professional, but as long as you follow the item’s care label guidance and the advice laid out here explaining how to wash silk clothing, there is no reason that you can’t clean your delicate silk items at home, saving you time and money.

As a final tip, we always recommend treating stains or marks on your silk clothing as quickly as possible. Allowing dirt to soak into the fabric fibers will make it much more difficult to remove and could result in lasting damage to the garment.

Silk clothing can be extremely beautiful if cared for properly, so be sure to take the appropriate steps to ensure that yours are cleaned and dried using the best, all-natural ingredients that won’t harm the delicate fibers.