Silk is one of the most comfortable and luxurious fabrics you can get your hands on. Silk garments are incredibly soft and possess a flattering sheen, making them quick-drying and resistant to wrinkles. Since it has a protein-based structure, silk is also one of the most hypoallergenic fabrics on the market.

If you own a silk garment, you know firsthand how delicate of a fabric it is, so it’s natural to feel nervous about attempting to wash it on your own. Despite silk garments being delicate articles of clothing, you can still effectively clean them and keep them in pristine condition. First and foremost, you should always check the label to ensure you’re caring for them the way the manufacturer intended. If that information is unavailable, there are a few general guidelines to follow when laundering your silk clothing. Read on to learn more about how to wash silk clothing without damaging it.

How to Test for Colorfastness

Colorfastness refers to how resistant a piece of dyed clothing is to fading. Dyed silk can fade faster than other fabrics, so it is crucial to test your silk garments for colorfastness before you attempt to clean them. Forgetting to do so could mean washing your silk clothing only to find that their vibrant colors have left them entirely. The last thing you want is drab-looking silk garments.

To test for colorfastness, you should dab an area of your garment that isn’t too visible, like the inside of a seam, with a damp cloth. If you notice that the color bleeds, then the garment is not colorfast. Silk garments with vibrant colors that bleed are best left to the professionals (like ZIPS), as they can clean your silks in a way that ensures the least amount of color is lost.

How to Wash Silk by Hand

Hand-washing silk is the most widely recommended method for washing silk clothing, although some labels say you can use a machine on a gentle cycle. To hand-wash your silk items, ensure your sink is spotless and fill it with cool water. Using cool water will help you maintain the color of your silk garments. You’ll want to make sure the detergent you’re using is free from any harmful ingredients; when in doubt, unscented detergents are usually a good choice.

To properly wash silk, add a small amount of detergent to cool water in a sink and place the silk garment in the water. Stir the silk garment in the water for a few minutes before removing it. Then, drain the soapy water and rinse your silk item under cool running water. Silk releases dirt quickly, so washing your clothing in the sink should be quick and easy.

How to Clean Silk in the Washer

While washing silk garments by hand is the preferred method for silk garments, some silk clothing is machine washable if you are in a hurry. If the label on your garment says to hand-wash only, then make sure to avoid the washing machine at all costs. If it says you can use a gentle cycle, we recommend using a pillowcase or mesh laundry bag to minimize the risk of damage to your garments. Silk garments often get snagged on the washing machine’s drum and can tear if you’re not careful.

If possible, you should wash any silk garments on their own or wash them with similar colors and fabrics. Avoid adding heavy items, jackets with zippers or fastenings, or anything else that can get caught on the silk and damage it during the tumble cycle. Once properly loaded in your washer, add a gentle detergent and set the machine to a cool water temperature. Start the washer on a delicate cycle and once the garments finish washing, separate your silk clothing from the rest of the load to dry.

How to Dry Silk

To dry your silk clothing and garments, avoid tossing them in the dryer or wringing the water out of them, as it can damage the silk. In order to remove excess water from your garments, you should place them on a white towel and gently blot them by folding them over. Afterward, hang the garment on a padded hanger and leave it to drip dry.

Voilà! Your silks are clean.

Removing Stains From Silk

Sometimes life happens, and you suddenly find yourself spilling your favorite wine or coffee on a beloved silk garment. Don’t fret! Here are some tips on how to rescue your silk clothing in the event of a stain emergency.

  1. Act fast and treat the stain as soon as you notice it. Spills that have time to dry and set in are more difficult to remove.
  2. Use a paper towel or a clean wool cloth to gently blot the stain and draw out as much as possible.
  3. Combine lemon juice or white vinegar with warm water to create a gentle stain remover, and apply it to your silk garment.
  4. Do not rub the stain remover into the silk. Instead, apply it to a clean cloth and dab it gently.
  5. Finally, wash the silk garment according to the instructions on the label.

Caring for Silk

Removing Wrinkles From Silk

Silk garments are known for their resistance to wrinkles; however, no fabric is perfect. In the event that you have to remove a wrinkle here and there from your silk clothing, be sure to use a steamer if possible. With a steamer, you can quickly remove wrinkles from dry silk garments, as long as the temperature isn’t too hot.

If you have to use an iron, turn the garment inside out while it is slightly damp and choose a low setting before gently ironing out the wrinkles. In the event that the iron or steamer drips and leaves a water stain on your silk, submerge the item in cool water and let it dry.

Store Silk the Right Way

If you properly care for your silk garments and store them correctly, they can last you several years. When storing silk in your closet, be sure to use padded hangers to prevent them from slipping and falling onto the floor. For silk pants, hang them on a wide bar across the legs or use a clip hanger on the bottom hem.

If you’re moving your silk items into a long-term storage solution, like a garage or storage unit, keep in mind that pests like moths will eat the natural fibers. Use an airtight bin or bag if you are leaving it in storage for a prolonged period of time. Always be sure to clean the garment first.

Let the Professionals Take Care of It

While washing silks on your own can be done, it can be a daunting and nerve-wracking task. There are a lot of risks involved when it comes to taking care of delicate clothing on your own, and there’s nothing worse than accidentally staining, fading, or damaging your favorite silk garment. If you’re short on time and need your silks cleaned and handled in a professional manner, try using a professional cleaning service, like ZIPS.

At ZIPS, we carefully clean your silk garments and other clothing to maximize their longevity and keep you looking your best. Find a location near you and let us take care of it today. For more advice on how to properly wash and handle your valuable garments and clothing, check out ZIPS tips for more information.