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How to wash silk


Lady buttoning up a beige silk blouse

Silk is a beautiful, luxurious fabric that makes you feel that bit more glamorous when you wear it. A favourite fabric of the summer months, silk is lightweight and can be colourful too. However, it can absorb sweat or can stain, just like any other fabric. And just like most other fabrics, you can wash silk at home without too much fuss. There are a few things to keep in mind, but we’ll cover that here. Let’s get started!

Washing silk in the washing machine

You can wash silk in a washing machine that has a delicates setting, and follow the steps you would for a delicates wash. This includes picking a washing powder that is suitable for silk, and a low temperature (don’t wash silk hot!) as well as a low spin setting. Because silk is a delicate material, you might want to invest in some laundry bags, so your clothes don’t snag in the machine. But that’s the gist of washing silk fabric in the washing machine – if you’re feeling a bit hesitant about washing silk in the washing machine, you can also wash silk by hand yourself.

Can you handwash silk at home?

If you’re worried about ruining that pure silk blouse in the wash, you can get more control over a silk wash by washing the silk yourself by hand. You don’t need to take a trip to the drycleaners to wash silk properly, just follow these steps and your clothes should look fresh and clean! Of course, every textile is different, so if you’re in any doubt, check the laundry care label – silk garments should have silk care instructions on them. But here’s how to wash silk, in general:

  1. Fill a basin with cold water and add a little gentle washing powder. The detergent’s packaging should tell you how much to use for a handwash on the bottle. It is usually less that what you’d put in the machine, but double check for the specific instructions of your washing powder. 
  2. If you have sensitive skin, wear clean washing up gloves so your hands aren’t exposed to too much washing powder. 
  3. Put your silk garment in the cold water and swirl it about a little. If there are stains in the fabric, give these spots a gentle rub. Since silk releases dirt quickly, you shouldn’t have to work the fabric too hard.
  4. After the silk has been in the water for a few minutes, take it out of the tub and rinse it under cold, clear water. 
  5. Give the garment a very gentle squeeze to expel any excess water and flatten it to air dry.
  6. If your silk garment is still very wet, you can use a clean white towel to blot any excess water from the garment.
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Tips to wash silk properly

If you notice a stain on a silk garment, wash the whole garment rather than spot-cleaning stains. This might go against what you’d normally do for removing grease stains or chocolate stains in cotton, but it’s the best method for silk. That means for stains in silk, you’d just follow the same steps as above and repeat until the stain is gone.

Once your washed silk garment has dried, you might notice that it is a bit wrinkly. This is normal, as washing silk yourself will mean that it gets a few wrinkles in the process. Fortunately, this is not permanent, and all you need to do is steam the silk gently with a steamer, or iron it on a low setting. Ironing silk is a bit tricky, though, because the fibres can burn easily. If you can, steaming is the better option.

We hope that these tips on how to wash silk have helped you – if you want more laundry tips, tricks, and hacks, read through our other articles such as how to wash jeans, how to wash a wool jumper and how to clean white trainers.