Silk Care Guide

15th Sep — 2021
Well-made silk garments should last you a lifetime if you take proper care of them. Silk generally keeps better if you hand wash it, but sometimes you don’t have the time or may not be confident that you’ll handle it correctly.

How to Wash Silk

Some silks are washable in the machine but if your silk becomes badly stained, it should be dry-cleaned. It’s best not to attempt to remove stains with a stain remover yourself – let your dry-cleaner know what caused the stains and ensure they know how to clean silk before handing over your garments.
Some silk items that should always be dry-cleaned include silk robes, scarves, chiffons, ties, taffetas, brocades and silk clothing with several multi-coloured designs and prints.
If you plan to use your washing machine to clean your silk, consider investing in a delicates bag which will protect your silk while you wash it. Always wash silk on a cold wash or use a delicates setting at 30° - 40°.

How to Hand-Wash Silk

Here’s how to hand-wash your silk: 1, Fill your bathtub or basin with cool water
  1. Add a little detergent (designed for delicates is best)
  2. Soak the garment for 3-5 minutes
  3. Swirl the item to dislodge dirt
  4. Rinse your silk item well in fresh cold water, squeezing out any excess moisture by rolling it in a towel
  5. Hang your silk to dry

Avoid soaking, bleaching, wringing, or boiling silk, and let it dry unfolded rather than leaving it crumpled in a tea towel.
Try not to let your silk become too dirty before you wash it; scrubbing tends to damage the fibres and can even create holes in the material. If you do discover any light marks or stains, rub them lightly with a soft brush or a sponge.

How to Check if a Silk’s Dye Will Bleed in the Wash

If you’ve just bought a new silk item and haven’t washed it yet, you’ll want to test the item for colorfastness:
  • Wet a small amount of your item’s fabric and lay it on some white material.
  • Press the material with a warm iron (for just a few seconds). If it doesn’t leave a mark on the white fabric, go ahead and wash it as normal.

How to Repair Silk

If you’re confident repairing clothing, you may be able to repair your own silk garments. However, if you’re not experienced in making clothing repairs, consider hiring a seamstress or using the repair service at a local dry-cleaner.
There are two ways to repair silk if it gets a tear in it:
  • Use fusible fabric
  • Use more silk

How to Repair Your Silk with Fusible Fabric

Here’s how to repair a tear in silk with fusible fabric:
  1. Measure the hole in the material.
  2. Cut out a piece of fusible fabric that is slightly bigger than the hole.
  3. Even out any jagged edges around the hole in the material. You can use nail scissors or embroidery scissors.
  4. Turn the item inside out, placing it on an ironing board. Have the inside of the garment facing you.
  5. Gently pull the edges of the hole as close together as you can, avoiding puckering the fabric.
  6. Take a cloth and use it to press the edges of the hole so that they’re flat.
  7. Spray your cloth with some water, placing it on top of your patch of fusible fabric.
  8. Press your iron gently onto the material.
  9. When you’re finished, remove the extra cloth and turn your fabric right side out.

How to Repair Silk with Silk

This method can offer the best results, but take things slowly so you don’t make any mistakes:
  1. Measure the hole in the material and cut out a triangle of silk that is bigger than the hole.
  2. As with the previous method, cut away any of the hole’s jagged edges with nail scissors or embroidery.
  3. Place your silk onto a flat surface with the outside of the material facing you.
  4. Thread a needle, ensuring you tie a knot at the end of that thread.
  5. Place the triangle of additional silk over the rip in your garment. Fold two of the three edges under the material and pin it.
  6. Sew the uneven edges of the hole on the inside of your silk patch.

How to Dry Silk

Silk tends to dry quickly, so you won’t need to use a tumble dryer. Using a tumble drier is usually not a good idea anyway, as it can damage the fabric’s fibres.
When hanging silk garments out to dry, it’s best not to leave them in direct sunlight as this can cause the colour to fade. Instead, dry your silk garments on a clothes hanger rather than clothes pegs, as these sometimes leave a mark on the silk. You’ll also want to position the garment straight on the hanger so it doesn’t stretch.
If your garment’s label says you can iron it, set it at a low temperature and iron the garment while it’s still a little damp. If your garment’s label doesn’t say it can be ironed, do not iron it.

Hanging and Storing Silk

Always make sure your silk is thoroughly clean and dry before you store it. You wouldn’t hang up a dirty garment of any other material, so make sure your silk is clean. Silk that is dirty, stained, or carrying natural oils can degrade over time and won’t last as long, so try to clean your silk garments as soon as you notice they’re dirty.
Silk garments generally do best when stored in a cool, dry, and dark place with some air circulation. Silk is a natural fibre, so it keeps best when it can “breathe.” For this reason, it’s best not to pack your silk garments in tightly sealed bags if possible. Silk maintains its shape best when hung inside breathable cotton bags as this reduces the risk of any unwanted folds and wrinkles.

Common Mistakes When Washing Silk

  • If you notice a stain on your silk garment, do not spot treat it as you would with another material. This is a common error but this can cause the material’s colour to fade.
  • Many people are tempted to bleach a material if they notice a stain, but you should avoid products containing chlorine bleach- this can cause permanent discolouration.
  • If you iron silk, don’t remove it from the ironing board before it has completely dried, as it can result in wrinkles.

From bedsheets and pajamas to dresses and ties, silk can produce a vast array of garments and home products. Its soft and luxurious texture has ensured its ongoing popularity worldwide, and, when taken care of properly, can last a lifetime.