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How to Wash Silk: Washing Machine or by Hand

A silk nightie, scarf, or sheet – no matter what the item is, when it’s made of silk you need to wash it with caution. We all know that silk is a very delicate material so you may even be wondering “can you wash silk at all?” Well, the answer is yes, and here we’re going to show you how.


How to wash silk: The golden rules

While you should always read the care label on your silk items before washing them to check for washing instructions, there are a few golden rules to washing silk that you can follow too.

Here are some of the answers to common questions about machine washing and hand washing silk.

  • Never wash silk with chlorine bleach. It could damage the natural fibres
  • Avoid drying silk in direct sunlight. Prolonged exposure can cause damage or fading
  • Never tumble dry silk – the heat can also cause damage or shrinking
  • Use a mild, non-biological detergent like Persil Silk & Wool. A detergent specially designed for the purpose is best for washing silk
  • Always check if the item is colour-fast before washing. Dab an inconspicuous area of the silk with a white, wet cloth to see if any colour runs from the item. If colour sticks to the white cloth, we recommend that you do not hand wash or machine wash your item – take it to a professional dry cleaner instead


Can you hand wash silk?

Yes, as long as the ‘dry clean only’ symbol isn’t pictured on the item’s care label. A bucket symbol with a cross through it means the item cannot be washed at home and will need to be taken to the dry cleaners.

If your item is suitable for handwashing at home, then follow these steps:

  1. After checking that your item is colour fast, fill a basin with lukewarm water and the recommended dose of a mild detergent, like Persil Silk & Wool. Read the product’s label for instructions.
  2. Soak the item for no longer than five minutes. Then empty the basin and refill with cool water and ¼ cup of distilled white vinegar, and rinse. The white vinegar will help remove excess soap and alkali traces.
  3. Drain the water and give your item a final rinse with fresh water. You may like to add a gentle fabric conditioner, like Comfort Pure, to your final rinse water (just follow the instructions for dosing on the product label). This will help to leave the silk feeling super soft.
  4. When you’re done, remove the item from the basin and lay it down flat on a clean towel. Roll the silk in the towel and gently press to enable the towel to absorb excess water. Do not twist or wring silk as this can distort the shape of the item.
  5. Either lay the item out on a fresh towel to dry, or hang it up and allow to air dry. Do not tumble dry and make sure you keep the item out of direct sunlight.


Can you wash silk in the washing machine?

If your item’s care label doesn’t feature the ‘dry clean only’ symbol or the ‘hand wash only’ symbol, then it’s okay to use the washing machine to do the job for you!

Here’s how:

  1. Pop your item in the washing machine – we recommend placing any silk items inside a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase to avoid snags or damage caused by the drum.
  2. Select a cool, delicate cycle (do not set the wash temperature to any higher than 30°C).
  3. Choose the shortest spin cycle and add the appropriate dose of a mild detergent, like Persil Silk & Wool.
  4. Dry your item as with the above method.


How to remove stains from silk?

Before machine or hand washing silk, spot treat any stains with cool water, diluted white vinegar, or lemon juice. Test the solution on a small, inconspicuous area of the garment first and then blot the stain with a clean cloth and your chosen solution.

There you go, learning how to wash silk in the washing machine or by hand is simple – just follow our golden rules and check your care labels!

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