How to Wash Silk

Silk is a luxurious and delicate fabric that requires special care when it comes to cleaning. Wash silk improperly can result in damage, discolouration, or shrinkage. This article will guide you through washing silk effectively while preserving its beauty and longevity.

Silk is a natural fibre known for its smooth texture, lustrous appearance, and breathability. It is often used for clothing items like dresses, blouses, and ties. However, silk requires specific washing techniques to ensure it remains pristine due to its delicate nature.

Wash Silk
Wash Silk

Why Silk Requires Special Care

Silk fibres are finer and more delicate compared to other fabrics. They are prone to damage from harsh chemicals, excessive heat, and rough handling. The special care required for washing silk is necessary to maintain its softness, colour, and shape.

Understanding Silk Fabric

Before delving into the washing process, it’s essential to understand the different types of silk and their characteristics. Common types of silk include mulberry silk, charmeuse silk, and chiffon silk. Each class has unique properties, such as sheen, drape, and weight, which may influence the washing method.

Preparing to Wash Silk

  1. Sort your silk items: Separate silk garments based on colour, as darker colours may bleed onto lighter ones during washing.
  2. Check the care label: Read the care instructions on the garment’s label to determine whether it can be hand washed or machine-washed. Follow the recommendations provided by the manufacturer.
  3. Spot-treat stains: If there are any visible stains on the silk item, use a gentle stain remover specifically designed for silk fabrics.

Handwashing Silk

  1. Fill a basin with lukewarm water: Fill a clean basin or sink with lukewarm water and add a mild detergent formulated for delicate fabrics. Avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach.
  2. Gently agitate the water: Swirl the water with your hand to create a gentle soapy solution.
  3. Submerge the silk item: Place the silk garment in the water, ensuring it is fully submerged.
  4. Hand wash gently: Gently massage the silk fabric in soapy water, paying extra attention to stained areas or areas prone to sweat and oil buildup.
  5. Rinse with cool water: Drain the soapy water and rinse the silk item under cool running water until all the detergent is removed.
  6. Remove excess water: Press the silk gently against the side of the basin or use a clean towel to absorb excess moisture.

Machine Washing Silk

  1. Use a mesh laundry bag: Place the silk item inside a mesh laundry bag to protect it from potential snags or tangles.
  2. Select a delicate cycle: Set your washing machine to a light or gentle cycle with cold water.
  3. Add a mild detergent: Pour a small amount of mild detergent formulated for delicate fabrics into the detergent compartment.
  4. Start the wash cycle: Start and allow the machine wash cycle to complete.
  5. Remove silk promptly: Once the process is finished, remove the silk item from the washing machine to prevent wrinkling or colour bleeding.

How to Wash Silk

Drying Silk

  1. Lay flat to dry: Lay the silk garment flat on a clean, absorbent towel, gently reshaping it to its original form.
  2. Avoid direct sunlight: Place the silk away from direct sunlight or heat sources, as excessive heat can damage the fabric.
  3. Allow ample drying time: Silk may take longer to dry than other fabrics, so ensure it has enough time to air dry completely.

Ironing Silk

  1. Select the appropriate temperature: Set your iron to the silk or low-temperature setting to avoid scorching or burning the fabric.
  2. Use a pressing cloth: Place a clean pressing cloth or a cotton fabric over the silk item to protect it from direct heat.
  3. Iron gently: Press the iron lightly over the silk fabric, moving back and forth. Avoid applying excessive pressure or leaving the iron in one spot too long.

Removing Stains from Silk

  1. Act quickly: Treat stains on silk as soon as possible to increase the chances of successful removal.
  2. Blot, don’t rub: Use a clean cloth or sponge to blot the stain gently. Avoid rubbing, as it can spread the paint or damage the fabric.
  3. Use a gentle stain remover: Apply a small amount of stain remover specifically designed for silk to the stained area. Follow the instructions provided by the product manufacturer.
  4. Test in an inconspicuous area: Before applying the stain remover, test it on a small, hidden area of the silk garment to ensure it does not cause discolouration or damage.

Tips for Maintaining Silk Clothing

  1. Avoid contact with harsh chemicals: Keep silk garments away from perfumes, deodorants, and hair sprays, as these can discolour or stain the fabric.
  2. Store silk properly: Hang silk items or fold them carefully in a breathable storage bag to prevent wrinkling and protect them from dust and sunlight.
  3. Follow care instructions: Always refer to the care label of your silk garments and follow the recommended cleaning and maintenance instructions.
  4. Consider professional cleaning: If you need clarification on washing silk at home or dealing with stubborn stains, consider taking your silk items to a professional dry cleaner experienced in handling silk fabrics.


Properly washing silk is essential for preserving its luxurious feel and appearance. By following the recommended techniques and taking extra care, you can maintain the beauty and longevity of your silk garments. Remember always to read and follow the care instructions provided by the manufacturer to ensure the best results.


Can I use regular detergent to wash silk? 

Common detergents can be harsh on silk and may cause damage. It’s best to use a mild detergent formulated specifically for delicate fabrics.

Can I wash silk in warm water? 

Silk is best washed in lukewarm or cold water to prevent shrinkage and colour fading.

Can I machine-dry silk? 

Machine drying silk is not recommended as it can lead to shrinkage and damage. Air drying is the safest method for drying silk.

Can I remove tough stains from silk at home? 

While some colours can be withdrawn at home, seeking professional help for tough stains or delicate silk items is advisable to avoid further damage.

How often should I wash silk items? 

Silk garments only require frequent washing if visibly soiled. Spot cleaning and airing out between wears can help maintain their freshness.