Silk has been a revered fabric for centuries and is a timeless addition to any wardrobe. With its natural sheen and lightweight feel, it’s a great choice to wear year round. Here’s some history on silk and how to properly wash, care for, and remove stains.
What Is Silk?
Silk provides the look of a delicate fabric, while being strong and long-lasting when properly cared for.
It’s a natural protein fiber obtained from silkworm larvae, who spin cocoons made of continuous filaments. The cocoons are harvested (before the moth inside breaks free), carefully unraveled, and the silk threads are collected and spun into yarn.
The Benefits of Silk
Silk has been prized for thousands of years for its soft hand and beautiful sheen. It’s also a natural thermal regulator that helps the body maintain temperature, keeping you cool in the summer and warmer when it’s cold.
Is Silk Washable?
Yes, but it needs special handling to maintain its quality. While many people opt for dry cleaning, there are ways to wash silk safely without damaging the fabric.
How to Wash Silk by Hand
1. Fill a basin with cool water
2. Add a mild detergent, ideally one formulated for delicates
3. Swish, swish, swish
4. Rinse thoroughly
5. Lay items flat on an absorbent towell and roll to gently press out excess moisture
6. Air dry, avoiding direct sunlight which can cause fading
Can You Wash Silk In The Washing Machine?
Yes. Start by turning the piece(s) inside out. Select a gentlest setting, such as “delicate” or “hand wash,” set your machine to 86°F or tap cold, and choose an extra rinse. Avoid regular laundry detergents as these often contain harsh chemicals which weaken fibers. Instead, opt for a hypoallergenic or plant-based delicates wash. Finish by air drying (never the dryer) away from sunlight.
Removing Stains From Silk
As with washing detergent, spot clean using a stain remover formulated for delicates. For tougher stains, mix one part distilled white vinegar and one part lukewarm water, then apply directly onto the affected area. Let it sit for 30 minutes and wash in tap cold water on a gentle cycle. For stubborn stains, try the same solution and use a gentle stain brush with soft, densely-packed bristles or your fingers to target stains, and follow the same washing instructions.
How To Dry Silk
First and foremost, never use a machine dryer for silk. Heat exposure is the fastest way to cause wrinkling, discoloration, static cling, and shrinkage of your silk pieces.
Air-drying silk is best. To do this, lay your garment flat on a towel or mesh drying rack and let it dry away from direct sunlight. Flip your item halfway through the drying process for equal exposure to the air.
Caring For Silk After Washing
When it comes to removing wrinkles from silk, steaming is our first choice. Hang the item up and steam from the inside out, taking care to move quickly if you’re touching the fabric. You may also choose to hold the steamer a few inches away from the material, which is helpful for tricky areas like shoulders. Ironing silk clothing is a delicate process that should be done with caution. When using an iron, choose the coolest setting. Be sure to turn the clothing inside out and place a towel between the silk and the iron. Always use the lowest temperature setting and keep it on the move at all times—this will help prevent the scorching or burning of the silk. Do not spray silk when ironing, as this can cause damage from the heat.
To store your silks, place them in breathable cotton bags, not plastic, to reduce humidity. Lay pieces flat or hang them on wide or padded hangers in a cool, dry place.
Shop our Washable Silk styles.