Silk was used by ancient warriors as form of armour, and get is it so soft and delicate.  Silk washing and silk care can depend on a lot of factors.  If your silk is hand painted, like many artistic garments are, you will need to take extra care.  You may choose to dry clean your silks but silk washing is not difficult and can get great results for your garments to last a long time.

Silk comes in a few forms, woven like a sweater, in fine flowing fabric and in near translucent gauze-like weights.   In all cases, silk washing requires care and attention.

Generally speaking, it is important to avoid exposing silk to chemicals like deodorant, perfume, harsh soaps and bleach.  Silk also requires protection from the sun, too much will damage the fibres and colours.

Silk can be machine washed on delicate, though hand washing is more trustworthy.   Hot water shrinks silk and cold causes it to lose its sheen… so using lukewarm water is very important here.

Create a Silk Washing Work Space

Washing silk needs space, clean and clear space.  You will also need a very gentle laundry detergent for delicate, silk or baby clothes and 2 towels of an appropriate size. Create a clean work area in your bathroom, kitchen or laundry room.  Clean and thoroughly rinse the sink and counters. Do be certain there is no remaining cleaner in the area to wreck your jumper.

Washing Silk

  • Half-fill the sink with water. Silk should be washed at no more than 30 degrees Celsius
  • Add to about ¼ cup of detergent to the water and gently swoosh around to mix. Don’t use regular detergents, will shorten the life of your silk garments.
  • Place garment in the sink and thoroughly wet it, allow it to soak for about 5 minutes
  • Swoosh the silk garment around in the water, gently squeezing in in all areas, do not wring or rub the jumper.
  • If you have a spot with a mark that needs to be removed and is not coming out with regularly squeezing, put a tiny amount of baby shampoo in your hand and gently rub with your fingertips.  Do not over work the fibres.
  • After a maximum of 5 minutes of swoosh-cleaning, remove from water
  • Silk fabrics are ideally not dried in the dryer.  Starting at the top of the garment, hold it over the sink and gently squeeze the water from it.  Do not wring it, just squeeze in pulses all the way down, repeat until most of the water is gone.
  • After gently squeezing the water out of the item and lay flat on a clean, dry towel.  Lay another clean, dry towel on top. Roll up the item inside the towel and squeeze the water into the towel by standing on it or pushing on it inch by inch.
  • The last step is to lay the sweater out flat on a third clean, dry towel with all hems and collars arranged as you would like them to look.
  • Finish the drying with a low heat iron on the back side of the fabric.

If you choose to try to wash silk in the washing machine remember these tips:

  • Use lukewarm water on low speed and short spin cycle, if spinning in your machine
  • Use only detergent for special care fabrics
  • Do not tumble dry silk, or hang on the line outside as it can easily be damaged in these ways