Silk is an extremely versatile and robust fabric. It is strong yet delicate, absorbent but reflective, and offers both insulating and cooling properties.

When it comes to cleaning silk, it’s important to make sure that the right cleaning processes are used to guarantee the fabrics lifespan and integrity.

In this article ‘For the Love of Silk ‘ shares a few helpful tips for cleaning silk.

How to wash silk fabric - Tips from a silk supplier

For the Love of Silk – Silk Suppliers Cape Town

At For the Love of Silk, all silk fabrics are pre-shrunk and we use a chemical dye process which safeguards colour fastness ensuring colours do not run.

However, every silk supplier is different and therefore we advise if you have purchased silk from another silk supplier and not from For the Love of Silk - ALWAYS test a small part of the silk fabric to see if the colours run and the material doesn’t shrink. If they do run, then we advise you to dry-clean only.

How to clean silk

Silk is a natural protein fibre. Therefore, do not use chlorine bleach to clean any silk items because bleach will damage your silk fabric.

Additionally, substances containing alcohol such as perfume or hair spray will damage silk. *Always make sure your perfume is dry before dressing.

Hand Washing Silk

As silk suppliers and avid silk enthusiasts, we recommend hand washing your silk items.

Almost all silk can be hand washed. If the fabric has been pre-shrunk before sewing, your fabric should not shrink dramatically.

If you have hard tap water, we advise that you first add a spoonful of borax to the washing water. Use lukewarm water and mild, non-alkaline soap such as baby shampoo.

While rinsing, you can add a few tablespoonfuls of distilled white vinegar to the rinse water. This will neutralize alkali traces and help to dissolve soap residue.

Alternatively, add a few drops of hair conditioner to the final rinse water for an extra silky feel.

Things to remember when hand washing silk

  • - Do not soak silk for longer than a few minutes.
  • - Do not use harsh detergents that contain bleaches or brighteners.
  • - Do not wring or twist the silk fabric; roll in towel to extract water.

Machine Washing Silk

We do not recommend machine washing silk, this also applies to garments labelled safe for machine washing.

If, however, you do wish to machine wash silk, please make sure to use the Delicate Cycle and a mild detergent such as Woolite.

Silk cleaning tips from a Silk Supplier in Cape Town

Things to remember when machine washing silk

  • - NB! Do not use detergents that contain enzymes and brighteners.
  • - Always use the shortest spin cycle.
  • - In a top-loading machine, we strongly recommend using a mesh bag for extra protection.
  • - Always separate your colours.

Dry Cleaning

The only silk which cannot be hand washed is Duppioni or Raw Silk. For silk fabrics such as heavy Dupioni Silk or Raw Silk, we recommend dry cleaning because hand washing changes the lustre and sheen of the silk. This includes silks such as heavier silks i.e.: Bridal Silk and Heavy Silk Crepe.

However, for lighter silks (Silk Satin, CDC, Silk Twill, Silk Chiffon, Silk Georgette, etc.) please follow the instructions we have previously mentioned and test a small piece of the silk before taking the item for dry-cleaning.

Spot Cleaning

When it comes to removing spots and stains, a fantastic trick to use is baby powder or corn-starch as they are both absorbent.

Grease Stain

For a grease stain apply either baby powder or corn-starch to the affected area and allow to absorb overnight and shake off. Take note, this method can only be used while the stain is still wet.

Pen Mark

  • - Blotting paper should be applied first, and thereafter soak fabric in cold water, then apply blotting paper again.
  • - Hairspray can be used, it is a solvent which breaks up remaining ink, thereafter wash once more.
  • - Third trick would be to use vinegar and water solution, use a soft bristle toothbrush to brush affected area.
  • - If it's a stubborn pen mark, then dry cleaning would be final option. However, please do communicate to your dry cleaners all steps that have been taken.

Silk Care: Drying Tips

Silk drying tips from a Silk Supplier in Cape Town

It's important to avoid drying silk in direct sunlight as prolonged exposure to sunlight will damage the silk’s fibre and cause the colour to fade. Additionally, wet silk may yellow in direct sunlight.

Always hang silk garments to dry in order for them to hold their shape.

Never use a wooden drying rack to hang wet silk fabric, the rack's dyes & finishes can leave stains.

Furthermore, we do not recommend using a clothes dryer to dry silk. Using a clothes dryer can damage silk in two ways:

  • - Excessive temperature and heat dulls the silk fabric and may also shrink it.
  • - Furthermore, friction with the dryer drum might cause yarn breaks or white streaks.

Silk Care: Ironing Silk

If necessary, press the silk garment inside out while damp using cool iron setting or the “Silk” setting on the iron. Always use a low heat as a high heat can dull, pucker, or burn silk fabric.

  • - Do not wet the fabric locally as this may cause rings when it dries.

Most wrinkles in silk can be removed by hanging the garment in the bathroom while you shower. Let humidity do the ironing for you!

Silk Care: Travel Tips

Pack your silk garments as you would any other clothing. Simply hang the garment after unpacking. As mentioned, minor wrinkles should disappear overnight.

For the Love of Silk – Silk Suppliers in Cape Town

The guidelines mentioned are general recommendations, however, we encourage you to discover the best option that works for you.

Taking gentle care of your silk will ensure a longer lifespan for you to enjoy.

For more information about our silk suppliers in Cape Town, available silk fabrics or fabric design, please contact us.