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Cleaning silk: everything you need to know

Learn how to wash a silk scarf, blouse, dress or saree at home with our guide to hand washing silk.


silk dress hanging against a white wall

Your precious delicate clothes need special attention, especially when it comes to cleaning silk. The good news is you can hand wash silk garments yourself. Just follow our straightforward tips on how to hand wash silk items at home and keep your beautiful silk scarves, dresses, sarees, blouses and abayas as good as new.

Do not squeeze or wring silk to remove excess water as you could damage the shape of your clothes.

Can you hand wash silk?

Check the item’s care label. If it says ‘dry clean only’ then you shouldn’t include it in your home washing. If it is suitable for hand washing, then there are a couple of additional safety checks you should take before beginning:

Carry out a colourfast check

If you are looking on how to wash silk saree at home without damaging the fabric colour, you might want to use a little water to dampen a small area of the inside hem or seam. Iron or dab a piece of white fabric or kitchen paper over the dampened area. If it soaks up any colour, then the item isn’t colourfast and shouldn’t be hand washed.

Safety Warning 

It’s always best to use products that are specifically designed for silk or delicates. Always read the instructions carefully before you attempt to hand wash silk dresses, blouses, scarves or other garments.

Do a detergent patch test

Whenever you use a product for the first time, it’s worth testing it on a small area first. Using a mild, gentle detergent (not chlorine bleach or stain removers) will also help protect your silk clothes. Always follow the instructions and safety precautions on the packaging.

How to clean silk by hand washing

Follow these easy steps and you’ll know how to clean silk the careful way:

  1. Check the care label for the recommended wash temperature.
  2. Use a detergent suitable for delicate, such as OMO Sensitive that is gentle on the fabric and skin. Add the recommended amount to a bucket or basin of water.
  3. Soak the item for up to 5 minutes – no longer.
  4. Empty the container and refill with cool water and a quarter cup of white vinegar.
  5. Rinse your clothes in the solution. The vinegar helps rinse out the detergent.
  6. Empty again and refill with plain water. You can add fabric conditioner if you wish.
  7. Rinse your clothes a second time.
  8. Lay the silk garment flat on a dry, clean towel.
  9. Gently press the item as you roll it up in the towel to remove excess water.
  10. Lay it on a fresh, dry towel or hang it up to dry. Avoid direct sunlight.

Now you know how to wash silk scarf, blouse, abaya, saree or dress why not check out our other advice on caring for delicate clothes at home?

Key steps

Whether you want to clean silk scarf accessories or hand wash silk blouses, sarees and other garments, there are a few simple processes to follow:

  1. Check the care label to ensure the item isn’t dry clean only.
  2. Carry out a colourfast check and detergent patch test before washing.
  3. Use gentle products and follow our step-by-step hand wash guide.

Originally published