can you machine wash silk

 Do you have beautiful silk scarves or ties that always look stylish? Maybe it’s a treasured silk dressing gown or a sophisticated shirt or blouse. For many of us, silk is the ultimate luxury fabric but it comes with a big question: how to do you wash silk?

As a delicate material, you don’t want to cause unnecessary damage by washing in the wrong way – but what is the correct procedure? Can you wash silk in a washing machine? And what steps should you follow when you do?

 

How to wash silk in a washing machine

The answer to ‘can you machine wash silk?’ depends on the item in question. First, you need to check the item’s care label. It will have clear instructions on whether the garment can be placed in the machine or not.

Next, you’ll want to do a colour fastness test – especially if the item is brightly coloured. Complete this test by dipping a corner of the garment in cold water. Then, lay it on white fabric and apply a warm, but not hot, iron. If the colour stays you should be alright to wash it in the machine.

When washing silk in the machine, remember to:

  • Choose a low heat setting (30°C) and a gentle wash cycle
  • Only wash silk items with similar colours to help avoid colour run
  • Use a mild detergent designed for delicate fabrics
  • Place extra delicate items inside a laundry bag or pillow case to protect them whilst in the washing machine drum.

 

How to wash silk by hand

Now you know how to wash silk in the washing machine, it’s time to consider your other option: handwashing. This is ideal for non colour-fast fabrics and anything extra delicate that you don’t want to risk in the machine.

To begin with, fill a bowl with cold water. Add a little detergent and then put your silk items inside the bowl. Move the clothes around the bowl gently to help the cleaning process but never rub, boil or soak your silk clothes as this could damage the fibres.

Once cleaned, remove your items from the bucket and empty the water. Rinse each piece of clothing separately in cold water until all detergent residue is removed. Squeeze excess water from the silk items gently and leave them to dry naturally – do not wring them out.

 

How to dry silk safely

Getting the drying process right is just as important as washing when it comes to silks. You should never wring your silk garments as this can leave lasting creases and risks breaking the fibres.

Instead, squeeze excess water out gently and then pat them dry with a clean towel. Hang the items away from direct sunlight or heat (avoid radiators and washing lines in the height of summer) until they are completely dry.

Next, check whether they need ironing. You should avoid ironing silk whenever possible to protect against damage and scorch marks. If you do need to iron your silk clothes, check the care label first and use a low heat. Always apply heat to the underside of the fabric and consider using a clean, plain cloth as a barrier between the iron and the silk material.

 

Caring for silk: Learning how to wash silk garments, dry, and iron them

With these basic tips on how to wash silk garments, you can help your delicates get clean and fresh with minimal effort.

For more information on caring for delicate fabrics like silk, have a look at our other helpful articles on topics like washing wool and acrylic. With a bit of knowledge on your side you’ll keep clothes, scarves, and other treasured possessions looking great for longer.