Silk clothes and accessories are a timeless trend that makes you think about elegance and luxury. A silk kimono worn over the shoulders not only looks spectacular, but also is so pleasant to the touch that you just don’t want to take it off. A silk scrunchie, even though it’s just an addition to your outfit, gives a subtle hint that you love sophisticated details. Most of us know how beautiful and glamorous fabric silk is, but not everyone knows how to wash, dry or iron it best. With this post we’ll try to resolve all of your doubts. Let’s start with a little cheat sheet in a nutshell (cheat sheet for dummies? 😊):
How to wash silk?
- Prepare a bowl, delicate soap or shampoo and a towel
- Pour cool water into the bowl, add soap and soak the silk garment in it
- Gently soak the silk in water, remembering not to wring or rub the fabric. Make only gentle moves and watch so that this stage doesn’t last more than 5 minutes
- Replace water with the clean water and rinse off the detergent
- Put the silk on a clean towel, roll and squeeze it, getting rid of too much water
- Dry flat away from the sun
And now the option for those who want to learn about silk care from scratch:
Can you machine-wash silk?
To cut the long story short: we wouldn’t do that. In theory anything that fits into a washing machine can be washed in that way. Practically speaking, you should keep the most delicate and valuable fabrics away from the machine. When you put your clothes into a washing machine, you lose control over what happens to them – you don’t know if something gets tangled in something else or damaged. And here we’re talking not only about “regular” washing, where dresses with metal zips can land next to delicate lace lingerie, but also about washing individual things, such as our silk kimono. While being washed, it can get tangled up with itself, causing the fabric to stretch and making the kimono lose its initial cut. The simplest and the most reasonable piece of advice is to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. The labels attached to our kimonos or slips will show you not only the common, well-known symbols but also a short description of how to properly wash, iron and dry silk. So if the manufacturer warns you against machine-washing, it’s best to follow the recommendations.
And how about the gentle washing programs? If you have a tried program and trust your washing machine enough to put expensive fabrics into it – you can give it a go. But remember that from a professional point of view putting silk into a washing machine is a kind of looking for trouble (thrill-seeking) 😉 Even though silk threads are really durable, the fabrics made of them are quite demanding. If you’re not careful enough, they can deform, stretch, lose color or become unpleasantly rough. So if you’re still thinking about testing the “hand wash” or “gentle wash” programs, it’s worth remembering that silk doesn’t like long-time soaking in water and is sensitive to the temperature, which we will talk about in a moment.
What kind of water should silk be washed in?
Delicate fabrics require gentle treatment and paying attention to all aspects of washing. One of them is water. When it comes to water, two factors are important: its hardness and temperature. Silk doesn’t like hard water because it damages the structure of the threads, taking away their characteristic shine. You can see it especially in the case of silk satin from which we make our silk Black Beauty kimono, the Black Beauty slip or our scrunchies. So if you have hard water at home, think about the delicate softening detergent – be it a children’s soap or ecological borax.
When it comes to the temperature, there’s one simple rule: the darker the color, the cooler the water. Dark, saturated colors don’t like being washed (or even soaked in water) in high temperatures because then they fade and lose their depth. It’s important especially in the case of black, navy blue, dark green, red or purple. Perhaps you know some natural methods of keeping the fabrics from fading that have been used for generations, like adding white vinegar to water while rinsing, so that the fibers keep their color, making clothes stop dye bleeding and keep their initial colors and brightness. The method is still used and, well, it still holds good.
How to wash silk step by step?
- Prepare the washing space
Washing silk is quite quick, even though it doesn’t seem so. Silk is very delicate, and when exposed to water it’s prone to stretching, so the process of washing shouldn’t last longer than 10 minutes. It’s good to prepare everything we need for washing in advance because then you won’t leave silk in water for too long.
So what do you need to wash your silk quickly and without any trouble? The list is really short:
– bowl (you can use a washbasin too)
– delicate detergent: children’s shampoo, delicate soap, silk washing liquid
– towel for squeezing out too much water
– space for drying the garment flat – or a good hanger
- Actual washing
When you have the space ready, you can move on to the actual washing, which is not difficult at all. You should soak your silk clothes in a bowl of water, remembering not to wring, rub or tug the fabric. Everything you do with silk must be very delicate – it’s best to simply soak the silk in water, squeezing it gently.
Remember this stage should not last longer than 4-5 minutes. Wet silk becomes prone to stretching, so if you leave it in the bowl for too long, it may lose its shape and form. Of course, the bigger the surface of the fabric, the more prone it is to stretching – that’s why a silk kimono will stretch more than a small silk scrunchie or a sleep mask.
Just like with any other washing, you need to remember to carefully rinse off the detergent. The easiest method of doing it is replacing water with the clean water and repeating the actions from the previous point – soaking the garment in water until the soap or shampoo is completely rinsed off.
- Drying silk
After the thorough rinsing it’s time for drying. Because of the fact that silk shouldn’t be wrung, it’s better to use a clean towel for drying it. If you put the wet fabric on it and roll it, you’ll be able to get rid of too much water.
It’s best to dry silk flat by putting it, let’s say, on a drying rack. Thanks to that you can make sure the silk will not stretch under its own weight, which is important especially in the case of heavy dresses, blouses or bathrobes. If you wash clothes and accessories of a small surface, you can hang them on a hanger to dry. Be sure to check if the hanger is safe for your fabrics so that it doesn’t damage their structure.
How to iron silk?
In our post Silk nightwear we mentioned that silk has one wonderful feature: it doesn’t crease as much as, let’s say, viscose. But it doesn’t mean you don’t have to iron it at all – you do, especially after you’ve washed it. So, how to do it best? Let’s start with checking the manufacturer’s recommendations – if the label shows one dot, that’s what you should set your iron to.
It’s hard for us to imagine the label would show anything else than “one dot”, so we can agree silk should always be ironed at lowest temperatures possible or with the use of a special silk ironing program. Just to make sure, you can try to iron the less visible part of your silk garment, for example the inner part of the sleeve or the kimono’s hem – if the iron can smoothly move over the fabric, the temperature is right.
The important tip is that you can iron silk also when it’s still a little wet – it will make the ironing easier and faster. But if you iron silk after it’s dried you can help yourself with a spray bottle or a steamer – the most important thing is to be careful and not let the fabric get totally wet.
And now the thing that rankles most of the consumers:
Machine-washing and complaints
The good news is that if you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, you won’t have any trouble wearing your silk garments. Gentle care, hand washing and proper drying of silk fabrics will make them serve you for years without losing their fairness and shine.
The bad news is that – even though the manufacturer says otherwise – if you decide to machine-wash your silk garments, soak them in water at high temperatures, bleach or rub the fabrics (which is all you mustn’t do with silk), you can’t count on handling a complaint in your favor. You should remember about this, keeping in mind that the word silk should be synonymous with gentleness. This word guarantees that your luxury silk kimono or the silk slip will be a timeless ornament to your wardrobe.