How To Wash Silk

Silk is one of those materials that have a reputation. Now that might sound like a bad thing and for some materials, it might be but silk’s reputation is actually pretty good. It’s known for being a high-class, luxurious and all-around fancy material.

Silk lives up to this reputation in many ways and is also very comfortable. However, silk does have one aspect to its reputation that is an issue for many people and that is its fragility. Silk isn’t the strongest of materials which means if it gets dirty many people won’t know how best to clean it.

Let’s say you have a luxurious silk shirt that you accidentally spill some soup on how do you get it clean? All too often people will run silk clothing through a wash cycle only to see it come out ruined. However, there is some good news because when you know what you’re doing cleaning silk is easier than you might think.

In fact, below we have outlined the two main ways you can approach cleaning silk clothing. So, without further ado let’s take a more detailed look at each method. Don’t be scared of silk because it is a very versatile, comfortable and stylish material and by using these methods you’ll be able to ensure it always looks its best.

Method 1 – Hand Washing

Cleaning silk clothing by hand is less risky but let’s be honest it is also going to much more time consuming and take more effort. If you only have a few silk items it might not be a big deal but things like silk sheets can be a real hassle to clean by hand.

But if you do want to clean your silk clothing/ items by hand you will still need to use a detergent. Silk should only be washed with a mild detergent because of its very smooth fibres, these can be damaged easily by harsh chemicals.

So, find a mild silk-friendly detergent if you want to get into the technical details look for detergents marked as Ph-neutral. You also will want to avoid heavy fabric softeners as well, many people believe fabric softener is good for silk but it isn’t.

Once you have your detergent you should fill your sink or bath for larger items with lukewarm water. Add a small amount of detergent and then massage the mixture into the silk gently. Try not to rub it just let the water make contact with the materials and massage it.

After this rinse out the detergent and gently squeeze the clothing. Don’t wring it out like you can with hardier materials, then leave the clothes to either dry flatly on a clean surface or hang them on a coat hanger to dry. Once they are dry they should be clean and ready to iron.


Method 2 – Using A Washing Machine

Using a washing machine is going to be the preferred method for a lot of people when it comes to cleaning silk. Yes, it is riskier in some respects but it is also a lot easier and for most people that will be the main priority. The good news is when you know how to do it using a washing machine for silk clothes is relatively simple and straightforward.

If you have a more modern washing machine it might even have a silk cycle you can use without issue. But if it doesn’t just opt for the shortest most gentle/ delicate cycle you have with the lowest spin speed. You should also wash silk clothing alone don’t try to mix them with other materials. You can also place smaller silk clothing like lingerie into laundry bags for extra protection.

Finally, you should also pay close attention to the temperature of the wash cycle. It is often recommended to wash silk on a cold setting however this is usually only recommended as a precaution by manufacturers. Silk clothing can usually be washed at temperatures of up to 30ºC in a washing machine but you shouldn’t go any higher than that even for tougher stains.

Silk Ironing

So, that concludes our look at the two main methods for cleaning silk clothing. However, once it is clean and dry what about the ironing? Ironing silk is something you will again need to undertake with great care but it can be done.

To start out make sure your iron is set to its lowest heating setting and then wait around 30 seconds to a minute to ensure the heat level is equal. Some irons even have a dedicated silk-setting however this isn’t overly common.

Once the iron is ready you can start ironing straight away however as an extra precaution we recommend placing a cotton garment (like a tea towel) over the silk clothing and then gently ironing it. Smooth gentle motions are essential when ironing silk so take your time and don’t rush.

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Author: Repair Aid®

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