How To Care For Silk
Silk, a more luxurious friend, is one of our favorites to design garments in. Silk is naturally made, has a beautiful hand, and can add a sprinkle of elegance into your day.
Albeit beautiful, 100% silk can be intimidating to keep in your closet. What if I wash it wrong? Will it retain its effortless shine after a cycle? How does it respond to heat?
Sabrina Spanta is here to give you a step-by-step guide on how to care for your silk garments. A key to sustainable fashion is longevity, and caring for our garments right to last for years, and eventually to pass on to family members or friends who can love them all over again. You might want to bookmark this one.
Does “Dry Clean Only” Really Mean Dry Clean Only?
One of the more popular conundrums with silk is this: Do I have to take it to the dry cleaner?
All the information you need is in the care label on your garment.
If the label says “dry clean only”, that’s signed and sealed, go to the dry cleaner. There’s likely part of that garment that would be ruined by hand wash at home - best not to mess with it.
BUT, If the care label says just "dry clean," this is the manufacturer’s recommendation, which means dry cleaning would be the best case scenario, but you may be able to wash your silk garment by hand at home. A way that you can test if you are able to hand wash at home is by testing the silk’s “colorfastness”, or its resistance to fading or running:
- Dampen a small part of the fabric on an inside seam. Wait a few minutes, and wipe your spot with a white cloth. If color comes off on the cloth, take that garment to the dry cleaner. The dye will run in your wash. If it’s clean, your garment’s dye won’t bleed and you’re in the clear.
- It’s also worth noting that if your silk is brightly colored, it may bleed when washing for the first time. Some silks that are brightly dyed or contain multiple colors may be more difficult to wash. The dry cleaner may be the best choice for these garments.
Hand washing is your friend! Silk is a delicate fiber, and the more delicate you can be, the better your results. Machine washes can be harsh and fade your garments, so we always will recommend hand-washing your silk rather than the latter.
Do not scrub or wring your silk with your hands, it will damage the fabric, show wear, and cause wrinkles. A gentle wash and blotting for specific spots is best. Silk is weaker when it’s wet, and going the extra mile for care goes a long way.
Spots and Stains
Important: Never use commercial spot treaters or stain removers on your silk, it can (and will) damage your garment. And say it with us: Never. Use. Bleach.
If you stain your silk, spot treating with delicate detergent is your best bet.
- Dab your stain spot directly with a delicate detergent (ex: Woolite). Let the detergent it and work for 15+ minutes before your hand wash.
- Mix cold water and a tiny amount of delicate detergent in a clean sink or wash bowl. Wash gently, do not scrub or wring.
- Add ½ cup of white vinegar to your rinse water to help your silk keep its luster.
- Hang to air-dry.
Heat and Iron Tips
Wrinkly silk can be upsetting, and you don’t want to scorch your garment by ironing - this burns the fibers, and the same goes for wool, and other fibers derived from protein.
Try using a steamer instead, or hanging your garment in a steamy bathroom for awhile.
If you must use an iron, keep your setting on as low as possible, or a “silk” setting if your iron has one. Turn your garment inside out when you iron, and never wet your silk - this can result in water stains on your garment. You can also use a pressing cloth to keep your iron's temperature down.
Yay! You can now take care of your silk without fear. We hope a few of our tips and tricks are helpful to keep in your back pocket. We love our silk, and want to see it drape and shine for years to come.