The way you wash, dry, and manage your silk will ensure its durability and keep its lustrous, soft properties for many years.

Silk has long been one of the most sought-after materials in the world, with a variety of uses ranging from silk scarves and apparel to home décor, with the fabric even proving beneficial to your beauty sleep regimen.

Silk is one of the strongest natural fibres in the world, but the fabric itself is extremely fragile and requires extra care when it comes to cleaning, drying, and storing to maintain its flawless condition.

To what extent can silk withstand machine washing?

Though it’s technically conceivable, machine washing silk isn’t something you should do. Silk is a delicate fabric that doesn’t do well when the machine drum is constantly spinning. Washing silk in a machine can be too hard on delicate fabric.

Additionally, you shouldn’t wash silk with the same detergent you use for your cotton tees. Washing machines can sometimes retain residue from conventional detergents or bleach from prior washes, which might damage your silk. Therefore, washing it with a specific silk detergent is recommended.

If you really must do this, make sure your washing machine has a delicate setting and wash your silk items at 30–40 degrees. However, take the aforementioned precautions before washing your fragile silks, and wash each item separately.

Does silk require dry cleaning?

Silk may be washed at home. For many years, it was believed that dry cleaning was the only method to properly care for silk. Although the care labels on many silk products may recommend dry cleaning, this is merely the manufacturer’s recommendation.

Care labels are only required to indicate one way of washing, and the manufacturer is free to choose which one. It seems natural that dry cleaning would be their preferred method, as it reduces the likelihood of mishandling and, consequently, customer complaints about ruined silk products. It is crucial to remember, however, that if the label specifies “dry clean only,” this rule must be followed precisely.

1. How to Cleanse Silk 

There are a few things to think about and do before you throw your pricey silk into the washing bowl.

1) Does your silk retain its colour well?

Silk is excellent for dying, and it will keep even the boldest, brightest patterns without fading or bleeding. You should check the colour fastness of your silk before you buy it to make sure the pattern will survive being washed.

The simplest method for doing this is to dampen a tiny patch of the cloth (preferably in a hidden spot, in case something goes wrong!). , and apply the cotton swab to the damp spot. You may tell whether or not the cotton bud picked up any colour remains by pressing softly yet firmly on the swab. If that happened, you’ll need to take your silk to the cleaners. However, if the swab test came back negative, you can proceed with washing your silk by hand as described below.

2) Treat any stains ahead of time.

Have you stained silk? Before beginning the washing procedure, you must ensure that this is the case. Ideally, stains should be treated as quickly as possible for the greatest chance of removal.

The best method for removing stains from silk is to combine silk detergent and water at a ratio of 50/50. Soak a cotton swab in the solution and massage it gently onto the soiled spot; never rub forcefully, as silk is delicate! Repeat the same procedure on the reverse side of the stained silk, and the pre-treatment will be complete.

Note: Always use detergents designed specifically for silk or delicate fabrics, and avoid all-purpose stain removers to avoid damage silk.

3) Hand-washing silk

After preparing your silk and ensuring that it can be hand-washed without shedding, you may proceed. Make that you have a clean sink or bowl and fill it with cool water. Not too chilly, not too warm, but a pleasant medium between the two extremes.

Follow the manufacturer’s directions and add your silk detergent to the water, then submerge your silk. You will not be soaking your silk for an excessive amount of time, therefore it requires your constant care.

Small lengths of silk should be washed by gently twirling the garment in the water for approximately four to five minutes to ensure that all regions are thoroughly cleaned. Alternately, larger clothing may be submerged for up to thirty minutes.

4) Rinsing silk

Once the recommended amount of time has passed, remove the clothing from the bowl without squeezing the water out. Instead, empty the soapy water out of the bowl and replenish it with fresh, chilled water.

To eliminate any detergent residue, gently agitate your item in the water for an additional minute, ensuring that no soap remains. If necessary, the procedure should be repeated.

silk fabric from Forest Digital

2. How is silk dried?

You won’t need a tumble dryer for this, as it is strongly discouraged to dry silk in a tumble dryer. Instead, silk should be dried by air for optimal effects.

The first step is to absorb any extra moisture by placing the item flat on a clean towel. Roll the silk-filled towel and apply gentle pressure. Repeat with another clean towel until the silk is no longer dripping wet.

After removing the silk garment from the towel, place it flat on a drying rack without using clothespins. Because direct sunshine might cause the silk’s colours to fade, it should be dried in the shade.

Silk tends to dry relatively rapidly, so your item should be dry within 30 to 60 minutes.

3. How to steam and iron silk

If the silk has been air-dried flat, there should not be many wrinkles or creases. However, a short ironing can restore its pristine appearance! Yes, steaming is often the safest method for reducing wrinkles, however, silk can also be ironed.

To prevent the silk from becoming stained or damaged, ensure that your iron and ironing board are dry and free of any substances. Be sure to iron on the reverse side of the fabric at a low temperature. Use the silk setting on your iron, or set the temperature to around 148°C (300°F). We want to avoid water droplets at all costs, thus avoiding the steam setting at all costs!

Use a pressing cloth to avoid putting heat directly on the pattern on both sides of double-sided silk when ironing.

4. How to maintain silk

In order to keep the quality of your silk between wear and washes, it is essential that you know how to properly store it after the silk wash.

Silk should normally be stored in a cold, dry, and dark location with enough air movement. As a natural fibre, silk must be able to breathe; therefore, you should avoid storing silk garments in tightly sealed plastic bags. For optimal results, hang garments inside breathable cotton bags to prevent unnecessary creases and wrinkles so that they retain their form and are ready to be worn again.

Finally, silk should always be well-cleaned prior to storage. Silk clothing that is damaged, unclean, or contains natural oils should not be hung up, since this can degrade the fabric over time and cause harm.

Sustainable FabricsWhether it’s a gorgeous silk outfit for a special event or luscious silk bedding, if you take proper care of genuine silk products, they will last a lifetime.

Please note that this is a general guide to washing silk, and different qualities may require different methods. Always consult the care label before attempting to wash silk at home.

Forest Digital is a renowned digital silk printing expert in the United Kingdom. Using our bespoke colour-matching service, we can match your chosen silk to any colour swatch. To learn more about our services, please visit this page or contact us directly. Visit our shop.