Few fabrics are as elegant, sensual, and incessantly on-trend as silk. This must-have (and must-touch) fabric has been a symbol of luxury and elegance for centuries. While the question of wearing silk is relatively straightforward (answer: always, with everything), the question of how to wash silk is a bit more daunting. To help eliminate the guesswork and keep your favorite silks in top form, we’ve put together a simple guide with a few essential tips for laundering silk at home.
Read on to learn how to wash silk in just five simple steps.
Check the Label
While it may sound obvious, failing to follow the care instructions on your garment can cause irreversible damage to delicate fabrics. Some silks will allow for machine washing, while others will stress dry cleaning only. Others respond best to gentle handwashing. If you’re unsure what those little hieroglyphic care instruction labels mean, here’s a useful resource to help you crack the code.
Tips for Machine Washing
If your silk garment can be machine washed, there are still a couple of extra measures you can take to ensure the longevity of the fabric. First, always be sure to wash your silk garments in a lingerie bag. If your garment has any buttons, snaps, zippers, or other detailing that could potentially snag fabric, make sure that these elements are fastened and secured. Lastly, only use cold water to machine wash silk. Hot water can be rough on delicate fabrics and can especially pose a hazard to richly dyed silks.
Tips for Handwashing
Handwashing is one of the simplest solutions for washing silk. Simply fill a basin with cold water, and then add a small amount (no more than a 1/4 cup) of mild laundry detergent. Gently swish your garment in the sudsy liquid, paying special attention to areas that are stained or that might require extra cleansing. Finally, use either a second basin or drain the first and fill it with cold, clean water. Submerge and thoroughly rinse the garment by hand, repeating as needed until the water runs clear.
Tips for Dry Cleaning
While dry cleaning typically involves outsourcing the job to someone else, there are a couple of ways to wash silk by dry cleaning at home. One of the most cost-effective is a dry-cleaning kit, which can be a valuable resource for mild and routine cleaning. However, according to Martha Stewart, these kits tend to fail at resolving stubborn and oil-based stains. If a significant portion of your wardrobe calls for dry cleaning, you might even consider investing in a home dry-cleaning machine.
Dry the Garment
If you’ve washed your garment either by hand or machine washing, one of the most important factors in washing silk involves proper drying.
First, remove excess moisture by laying your garment on a clean towel. Next, gently roll the garment and the towel together, and then press to squeeze out the water. Repeat this step three to four times (the fabric should no longer be dripping), and then lay your garment flat to air-dry, either on a separate towel or on a flat drying rack. If possible, avoid hanging to air-dry, as this can affect the shape of the garment.
Now that you know how to wash silk, it’s time to refresh your wardrobe with a handful of must-have silk accessories.
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