How To Care For Silk

Silk is a luxurious fabric that, if cared for correctly, will give you a lifetime of wear.

Silk is a protein and is full of natural fibres, and as a result, it requires specific care and attention to keep it looking at its absolute best.

At Jayley, we want to ensure that your silk clothes and accessories last a lifetime. That’s why we’ve pulled together this helpful guide on how to care for your silk garments. Including everything from washing to drying and storage, we’ll give you the tools you’ll need to preserve this amazing fabric for a future of stylish dressing!

Table of contents:

How to care for silk clothing 

What is the best way to clean a silk garment?

How to dry clean silk

How to wash silk at home

Removing stains from silk 

How to iron and store silk 

How to care for silk scarves

a sheet of pink silk material

How to care for silk clothing

a cream silk garment turned inside out to see it's care instructions

Silk is a timeless, luxurious fabric that, if looked after correctly, is built to last, making it a perfect choice for some of your core wardrobe staples. Used on its own or blended with other materials in garment production, as silk is delicate, it’s important to follow any care instructions that come with your garment as the first port of call. 

Before we talk about how to wash and care for your silk, here are some initial starting points to follow to ensure you get the best out of yours:

  1. ALWAYS check your care label as this will indicate whether your silk can be washed at home or is strictly dry clean only. If it needs dry cleaning – leave the job to the professionals.
  2. NEVER use chlorine or bleach on your silk items. Silk is a natural fibre, and harsh chemicals and bleaches agitate its fibres, causing damage. If you want to avoid thinning and wearing, keep your detergents silk-friendly.
  3. NEVER expose silk to direct sunlight, as this can cause it to fade unevenly and damage the fibres.

What is the best way to clean a silk garment?

silk clothing be placed into a washing machine

Although silk is delicate, unless its label states that it is specifically dry clean only, there’s no reason why you can’t clean it at home with the correct tools and products. 

Before deciding whether to hand wash, machine wash or dry clean, you must check your item for colour fastness to see if the garments’ main colours will bleed when washed. This is particularly important for patterned garments, where the colours may bleed.

Here’s how to check your silk for colour bleed:

  • Take a cotton bud or clean white cloth and wet it with cool water and some mild, silk-friendly detergent.
  • Choose a hidden area of your garment to check the colour against, such as down the inside seams.
  • Dab the cloth against the area and check for any colour transfer. If your cloth remains clean, your garment will be fine to wash at home, but for any colour bleed, visit a dry cleaner.

How to dry clean silk 

If your garment is strictly dry clean only, rather than dry clean, you must take it to be professionally cleaned to prevent colour and fibre damage.

When you visit your dry cleaner, notify them if your silk is prone to colour transfer and point out any noticeable stains. Tell them if you’ve tried to remove any stains with home remedies, as this could affect their cleaning process and how successful the dry cleaning outcome will be for your silk item.

A professional dry cleaner should know all the correct methods to restore your silk to its former glory, so you’ll feel safe knowing that your garment will be returned looking fabulous!

However, don’t store your silk item away at home in the plastic bag supplied by the dry cleaner, as this can lock in moisture and damage the fabric.

How to wash silk at home 

If you’re confident that there’s no colour transfer and your garment’s care label allows it, it’s absolutely fine to wash your silk at home. Just remember to choose a mild detergent that’s safe to use on silk – look for phrases such as ‘delicate’ and ‘silk-friendly’ on your care label. 

Whether you choose to hand wash or machine wash – always check your care label for instructions!

How to machine wash silk

If you’re washing in the machine, invest in a mesh bag to place your silk inside to prevent it from knotting and tangling, which could damage the fibres and never wash it with heavier pieces, such as jeans.

Add your silk-friendly detergent to your machine, using the bottle’s dosing instructions to ensure the correct amount. Check the care label for the recommended temperature, and choose a delicate wash, with the shortest spin cycle, for best results.

Once the cycle is finished, remove your garment immediately, roll it in a towel to remove any excess moisture, then hang it on a padded hanger over a bath or sink and allow it to drip dry, keeping it out of direct sunlight.

How to handwash silk 

Probably the safest way to wash silk at home, hand washing silk is relatively simple. Here’s how we’d recommend you wash yours:

  1. Take a large basin and fill it with cool water. Then submerge your garment fully. Because of its delicate nature, we’d recommend washing your silk garments one at a time.
  2. Add a few drops of silk-friendly detergent and mix with your hand. Allow your item to sit for a few minutes.
  3. Plunge your item up and down to release and remove any dirt. Silk is very easily cleaned, so this should be a quick process.
  4. Drain the bowl and rinse your silk under cold water to remove the soap. 
  5. Lay your garment flat inside a folded towel and roll it back and forth to remove any excess moisture. Although it may be tempting, never wring out or twist the silk as this will damage the fabric.
  6. Hang to dry (as before, over a sink or tub) or lay flat on a clothes airer. 

Removing stains from silk

Although you can spot clean silk because it easily colour fades, sometimes it’s easier to wash or dry clean the garment rather than aggravate the stain. However, some home remedies can help remove things like deodorant marks or perspiration stains for smaller marks. 

Start by mixing two cups of lukewarm water with 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar or lemon juice. Next, fill a clean spray bottle with the mixture and spray it onto the stain. 

Gently work the mix into the stain, taking care not to rub as this can damage the fibres, then wash as normal, as per your garment’s care instructions.

How to iron and store silk 

silk scarves hanging on a rail

As silk is delicate, it’s essential to take as much care ironing it as you do washing it. 

Whether you choose to iron or steam, here are our top tips to prevent any damage:

  • Whether ironing or steaming, always turn your garment inside out and work on low heat. Or, if your iron or steamer has one, a silk setting.
  • If steaming, only do this when your garment is fully dry and don’t allow the temperature to get too hot.
  • If your steamer leaves any water stains, these can be easily removed by soaking your garment in water and allowing it to dry.
  • If ironing, iron silk damp and press your garment inside out. Put a cloth between your item and your iron to avoid burning. 
  • Don’t spray the wrinkles when ironing, as this could cause the heat to burn and damage the garment’s fibres.

How to store your silk items 

As silk is prone to wrinkling, storing your silk garments away carefully helps to keep them looking at their best. 

Always store your silk in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight, hanging garments on padded hangers to prevent them from slipping. For pants, use a wide bar hanger and drape them over, across the centre of the leg, or clip them at the bottom of their hem. 

For long-term storage, store your items in breathable bags, avoiding plastic which can lock in moisture. Always ensure your items are clean before storing them to prevent moth damage. 

How to care for a silk scarf

a multicoloured silk scarf tied up against a white background

Silk scarves can be cared for following the same washing and ironing tips and tricks.

If you want to prevent colour fade, it may be more beneficial to wash your scarves by hand rather than in your washing machine, and if you wear them frequently, you may want to avoid folding them or bunching them up when they’re dry to prevent them from creasing. 

Try hanging your scarves up rather than folding them and, when storing away, store hanging in a material clothes bag with a natural moth repellent to prevent any unwanted insect damage. That way, your scarves will last a lifetime, giving you years of styling options!

How to care for silk: The highlights

Although silk is delicate, there’s no reason why it can’t be a staple in your wardrobe. 

By examining your care labels to determine how to clean your silk correctly and avoiding washing dry clean only items, you’ll be doing your items a world of good and caring for them correctly.

Remember that silk requires delicate detergent, that it shouldn’t be twisted or wrung out and that it should be left to dry naturally, away from the sun’s harsh light. 

When ironing, use delicate settings and only press when slightly damp, being careful not to burn your silk. 

Finally, consider your silk storage, storing garments in a cool, dry place, where they can breathe in material clothes bags.

By following our tips, you’ll wear your silk for years to come and let it take centre stage as a long-lasting, core wardrobe staple.

Shop our finest silk and silk blend pieces at Jayley

Now you know how to care for your silk like a pro, why not browse our silk collection at Jayley? Featuring fabulous dresses, skirts, tops and accessories in a kaleidoscope of colours and prints, it’s never been easier to transform your wardrobe for the new season!

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