How to wash silk

Silk is a delicate fabric that needs to be washed with care. Discover our top tips for washing silk here.

Updated 19 November 2021


AuthorBy Cleanipedia Team

Reading Time5 minutes

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How to wash and take care of silk

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Silk is one of the most beautiful and luxurious fabrics available and has been a key element of our wardrobes for centuries. Despite its alluring appearance, cleaning silk can be exceptionally tough due to its delicate fibres. However cleaning silk doesn’t have to be difficult as long as you follow the appropriate methods!

How you wash silk depends on the type of silk at hand, nonetheless there are several precautions which must be taken first to avoid damaging the fabric and ruining your favourite silk item for good. It is important to note that silks should never be washed with bleach and should be kept away from alcohol-based products such as perfume and hairspray.

Further precautions when you wash silk include keeping silk away from heat and sunlight as this can stain the silk and turn it yellow over time. Finally, when cleaning silk it is most advisable to handle the material with care and avoid applying too much force as this again can damage the silk.

Using a pH neutral, non-enzymatic detergent or a detergent specially designed to wash delicate materials (such as Persil Non-Bio) will ensure your silk items get the gentle wash they need! Remember to always check the garment care label before washing an item.

How To Hand Wash Silk

  • Start by carrying out a colour-fastness test on an inconspicuous area of the silk. Take a white cloth and wet the area. Gently press the area with the wet towel to see if any colour runs from the silk. If any colour remains on the white cloth it is recommended that you do not hand-wash the silk and instead take it to a professional dry cleaning service.

  • If the colour-fastness test was successful the next step is to spot treat any stains on the silk. Blot the stained silk with cool water or diluted vinegar.

  • Soak the silk in a bowl of lukewarm water mixed with several drops of soap (something gentle like Simple Kind To Skin Pure handwash will be best) for no longer than five minutes.

  • After five minutes, drain the water from the bowl and refill with cool water and ¼ cup of white vinegar. The vinegar will help remove any excess soap and alkalinity.

  • Next, add several drops of conditioner to the bowl. This will leave the silk soft.

  • Drain the cool water from the bowl, replace with fresh water and then rinse.

  • Once you have rinsed the silk, remove the silk from the bowl and lay flat on a towel.

  • Roll the silk in the towel and gently press on the towel to absorb the water from the silk.

  • Lay the silk out on a fresh towel and leave to dry flat.

How To Machine Wash Silk

  • To machine wash silk, check the manufacturing label first. If the silk is dry clean only, do not wash the silk in a washing machine.

  • Choose a cold and delicate cycle on the washing machine with a maximum water temperature of 30°C. Do not set the temperature any higher than 30°C as this can damage the silk.

  • Place the silk in a pillowcase or laundry bag so the silk does not snag on the washing machine drum.

  • Choose a mild, non-alkali detergent and avoid using too much – follow the directions on the label.

  • Never tumble dry silk. Lay the silk out on a fresh towel and leave to dry flat.

Cleaning silk is an extremely easy process and certainly doesn’t have to be your worst nightmare as long as the correct steps and precautions are taken. Whether you hand wash silk or machine wash silk, the results will certainly be rewarding and leave your favourite silks stain-free and clean!

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