Silk! It’s gorgeous, it’s luxurious, it feels great to the touch, and you can ruin it forever if you throw it in the wash without pausing to think first. Here’s how to clean silk without causing damage.
Can you wash silk at home?
As with all clothes, you should check the care label on your silks before you try to clean them. Sometimes your only option is to dry clean silk. If the label insists on dry cleaning, follow its advice.
If the care label permits washing silk by hand or in the washing machine, just check our guide on how to wash silk below!
A note on how to get stains out of silk
If there’s a small stain on your favourite silk tie, you might be tempted to spot treat it. Resist the urge. Spot treatment can cause lightning in the treated area, which will stand out very clearly against the surrounding silk. When you’re cleaning a silk item, wash the entire thing.
How to wash silk in the washing machine
Occasionally, you’ll find a silk item that allows you to use the washing machine. You might encounter this when washing silk pillowcase or bedsheets, for example, as silk bedding can be a little more resilient than silk clothes.
If you’re washing silk in the washing machine:
Wash similar colours together. This is particularly important with silk, as the dyes can often run.
If you want to avoid snags, wash your silks in a mesh laundry bag.
Use the delicate cycle, or, if your machine has one, the silk cycle, with as short a spin cycle as possible.
Check that the wash temperature is not above the temperature recommended on the care label. If the label suggests a cool wash without specifying, try 30°C.
Use a detergent for delicates, such as
Don’t leave your silks wet in the machine. Take them out as soon as the wash has finished.
Don’t rub or wring the silk. Instead, roll it up in a towel and gently press the excess water out.
Hang the silk and let it dry, unless the care label recommends drying flat, in which case you can lay it out and leave it to dry on a fresh towel. Keep it out of direct sunlight to avoid fading.
How to hand wash silk
Is your silk hand wash only? That’s not a problem. Here’s how to wash silk scarf or how to clean a silk tie by hand.
Fill your sink or a clean tub with lukewarm water.
Mix in a small squirt of a detergent suitable for delicates, such as Persil Silk & Wool.
Add the silk item.
If there are stains you want to pay attention to, you can stroke them with a clean, soft sponge. Don’t rub hard.
After about four minutes, take the garment out.
Rinse the detergent out completely with cold water.
Follow steps 7 and 8 in the machine washing guide, above, to dry your silks.
How to care for silk
That’s how to wash silk, but how do you look after silk from day-to-day? We have a few silk care tips:
Never use bleach on silk.
If you’re storing silk for a long time, put it in a cool, dark place.
Cotton storage bags are better than plastic for storing silk, as moisture can build up inside plastic bags or boxes.
Moths can wreak havoc on silk, so it’s worth checking on your stored silks occasionally for signs of an infestation.
If you want to get rid of wrinkles in your silk, steaming is safer than ironing.
Don’t habitually hang up your silks in a place where they’ll be exposed to direct sunlight, or the colours could fade.
Silk may not be the easiest of materials to handle, but knowing how to wash silk properly is worth it. A little care and thought can preserve that gorgeous silkiness for a long time.