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How to Wash Silk

Can you hand wash silk? Yes! Make sure your silk clothes last for years to come with this guide on hand washing & machine washing silk.


Laundry Cleaning Tips and Tricks

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, and you may find yourself asking ‘can silk be hand washed?’ or ‘is it okay to put silk in the washing machine?’ However, the good news is that cleaning silk doesn’t have to be difficult as long as you follow the appropriate methods!

The best method for how to wash silk clothes depends on the type of silk at hand. 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 detergent like Surf excel Easy Wash that is specially designed for hand washing delicate materials will ensure your silk items get the gentle wash they need! Remember to always check the garment care label before washing an item.

Can You Hand Wash Silk?

Yes! Follow these steps for how to hand wash silk clothes:

  • 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 and a dab of Surf excel Liquid detergent. Always test your stain removal solution on a small area of the garment first.
  • Soak the silk in a bowl of lukewarm water mixed with several drops of a gentle soap 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 a fabric conditioner, like Comfort, 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.

Can You Wash Silk in the Washing Machine?

It is possible to machine wash some silk items, just follow these steps:

  • To machine wash silk, check the manufacturer’s 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 were wondering ‘can I hand wash silk?’ or ‘should I machine wash silk?’ you should now have the answers to help you make sure your favourite silks are stain-free and clean!


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Originally published