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A Smooth Process For Washing Silk


Are you unsure of how to wash delicates like silk? Maybe you've always shipped your items off to the dry cleaner, but breaking news, people: you can actually clean silk at home by hand or washing machine.


The basic rules to washing silk are:

  • Check the care tag and water test as needed.
  • Use cool water and a gentle, enzyme-free detergent like Delicate Wash. Avoid soaking for over 30 minutes.
  • Always air dry silk fabrics.

handwashing silk with the laundress delicate wash

BEFORE YOU WASH

Wondering what happens if you wash silk? Silk's washability can vary greatly depending on the manufacturing or dyeing process of the garment. That's why it's very important to check your garment tag before tossing your item in the wash to look out for any special instructions.

If your silk item is tagged:

  • Hand Wash: Launder in cool water with a gentle solution like Delicate Wash.
  • Dry Clean: Silk tagged as "dry clean" can often be washed at home. Before laundering, we recommend performing a water test to ensure washability.
  • Dry Clean Only: Consider this tag your virtual stop sign. Do not wash items with this tag, as it typically means the garment is not meant to be submerged in water. Items with embellishment tagged "dry clean" should also be left to the professionals.


While a silk garment is washable with the right detergent, it's important to note that these fabrics commonly bleed and can potentially stain other items in the wash. This is normal and will generally not result in color loss at the end of the wash process.

To test for color bleeding, find an inconspicuous area on the item, such as a hem, and dip it in luke warm water. If dye releases into the water, you'll know that bleeding would occur if washed. If you discover that an item bleeds during the test, simply take your delicates to the dry cleaners. Or, if the garment is a solid color, wash it alone. It's also important to note that some smooth finishes may be textured after washing, and can be steamed gently to achieve a smooth finish.


Need more help with your silk garment tag? Check out our Care Tag Guide for personalized tips.

STEP 1: SORT IT OUT


As mentioned, silk fabrics are prone to color bleeding during the wash, so it's important to test for significant color bleed, and launder like colors together!

Start by sorting silk items: for example, a dark navy silk tank and a black slip dress may be washed together, as can an ivory blouse and a pale pink silk t-shirt.

If your washable silk garment contains embroidery, zippers, or other details, it's best to hand launder it alone (or place in its own Mesh Bag if machine washing) to avoid snagging.

handwashing silk fabric


STEP 2: LAUNDER

HAND WASH


Hand washing is the gentlest way to clean and preserve the integrity of silk. If it's your first time learning how to clean silk at home, this is the best place to start.


Put It In Reverse: Prepare to wash by turning the silk item inside out. Wash with the same or like colors only. 

Draw A Bath: Add Delicate Wash to a wash basin or sink filled with cool water. This enzyme-free solution gently cleanses fabrics like silk.

Go Under: Submerge your item and gently agitate the water with your hand to evenly distribute suds and water. Soak for up to 30 minutes. 

Rinse Clear: Run cool water through items until rinse water is no longer soapy. Do not wring. Instead, gently press the water out of your item between your hands or against the sink. 

Note: If there is color in the water, don’t worry! This is normal and it is simply the fabric releasing dye upon exposure to water. Take care to limit soaking to 30 minutes or less to help avoid color loss.


-or-

MACHINE WASH


When washing silk in the machine, we recommend removing items promptly after the cycle is complete to reduce wrinkles and prevent musty smells. Do not machine wash silks without first completing a water test if they are tagged “dry clean”.


Bag It Up: Turn your silk item inside out and place it in a Mesh Bag to protect it in the machine. Wash with the same or like colors only.

Select Your Cycle: Select the delicate cycle on your washing machine and make sure the water temperature is cold and the spin is on low.

Soapy Situation: Add the appropriate amount of Delicate Wash considering the machine type and load size. Avoid adding too much detergent, as this can make delicates like silk feel stiff from excess buildup.

Woman placing mesh bags into washing machine

STEP 3: DRY & FINISH


Wondering how to dry silk? Whether you lay flat or hang, the answer is always to dry silk by air. Never, ever place silk pieces in the dryer, even if they are tagged as machine washable. The heat and tumbling will cause irreparable damage to the delicate silk fibers.

No-Rush Drying: Lay the item flat in its natural shape on a drying rack or hang to dry. If hanging to dry, be sure to position the item properly on the hanger to prevent stretching. If your delicate item feels a little stiff after air drying, gently steam it to soften up the fabric.

Wrinkle-Free: Steam to remove wrinkles and help rejuvenate the natural luster after washing. This will achieve the perfect finish! Don’t have a steamer handy? Use an iron set to the “steam” setting, hovering over the item – do not make contact. 

Stay Fresh: To freshen between washes, gently steam and spritz with a fabric refreshing spray.

the laundress delicate wash on counter with silk clothes
Cotton dress hanging from hanger in laundry room

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