How to Care for Silk

When you’re in possession of a very delicate fabric, it’s import you know how to look after it right. After all, not doing so can cause irreversible and permanent damage.

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This applies very much so to silk garments. It’s important that you look after silk correctly, as it is not only delicate, but also fairly expensive. Owning a material like that takes some extra level of care that can only be done with good research.

So let’s take a look at the ways to best care for your silk garments.

Don’t Machine Wash

Putting silk into the washing machine and washing it normally like other garments is a big no-no. Although your washing machine will have a silk or ‘delicates’ setting, I recommend that you take further care by not doing this at all.

This is because it still works with a one-setting-for-all. It will wash everything on that setting for the same consistent spin speed, time and temperature.

Most silk garments actually vary quite a lot in qualities, from very fine and delicate to the tougher and more durable makes that can withstand some heat. So in order to really monitor how the item responds to being washed, you’re best off not putting it in the washing machine.

Hand Washing

Having said that you should avoid the washing machine, I would recommend that you make time to wash your silk by hand. This will give you the best result in maintaining the fabric’s best qualities, since you are not putting it under the pressure of fast spin speeds in the machine.

You can also control the temperature that you wash your silks in. Putting it in lukewarm or cold water is optimal to retain the fabric and stop it from getting damaged by heat. I also find that the color comes off of silks rather easily if it’s exposed to hot water. And ultimately, the heat can cause the fabric to become deformed and no longer a luscious as it once was.

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The best method of washing it is to fill up a basin or bowl with room temperature water. Add a very mild detergent that works specifically for delicate materials, such as woolite, or any supermarket branded one that specifies that it is suitable for silk.

Now add the item to the water bowl. Personally, I stick to washing one garment at a time, since it improves the quality of the wash. I also have a lot of different colored silks, so I don’t want to run the risk of the dye colors mixing.

All you need to do is knead the material very gently into the water for a minute or two, and then let it soak for between 20 to 30 minutes at the most. Although I wouldn’t advise keeping it in water for any longer, I found that no harm was done to my silks when I left one overnight by accident. But it’s better to be careful than to regret it.

Once its finished soaking, rinse it once more under clean water, and then lightly squeeze some of the water out. I’ve personally dried silk tops and dresses on hangers and had no problems at all, but since they are delicate, I would actually suggest that you keep any kind of pressure to the fabric to a minimum, since silk can seem quite fragile.

You can lay down a clean bath towel and place the silk flat on the surface. This will assist the item in drying while putting no pressure on the silk to hang off a surface and crease it. The more attempts you can use now to keep it flat and uncreased, the less chance you’ll have to iron or steam it later.

Iron on Low Heat

It can be durable, but it is also a fine and natural fiber. Silk can still suffer slightly under the hands of heat, so using a hot iron with direct contact on the material is something you should try to avoid.

Because direct contact causes the fabric to be at risk of potential damage, you must take a lot of care when doing this. So you should either use the lowest heat setting, which will cause the least amount of damage, or you use a silk setting if your iron has it. Most irons have specific setting depending on the fabric you have. So read labels on your clothes carefully as to what the best setting is.

Better Yet, Steam It

I always, always prefer to use my clothes steamer for the clothes I deem too risky to iron (Partly because my inexpensive iron always has burnt marks that attract it). The steamer is a more indirect way of taking out the creases in your silky clothes.

You can use it in shorter bursts to very quickly straighten out a kink in the fabric and it doesn’t have to be put onto a flat surface to do this. Its also an advantage as silks, being thin, will pick up of bumpy pieces of fabric, which when ironed over will create a bump on top of your ironed pieces.

And if you want that silk to spend longer in your closet, you don’t want to wear the fabric down even quicker with all that heat.

Hang It Up

Silk is famous for its beautiful satin sheen finish. This lovely exterior would be ruined if it got a lot of crease marks in it, so you shouldn’t just screw it up and throw it in a drawer.

You should place it on a hanger and put it up in your wardrobe. This is the best way to store it, and maybe the second best way to dry it.

vintage dress hanging on hanger near window in rainy day
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You should put it on a hanger because silk normally creases very easily and folding it up will do it no justice when you pick it out and come to wear it. This makes things simpler because you don’t even have to iron out the creases if you’ve looked after it properly from the beginning.

Love Your Silk Pieces

If you do all these things and keep damage to a minimum, then you’ll have no problem making your silk pieces last for a long time. It’s a truly miraculous material that is not only beautiful but is also remarkably strong when it wants to be too. So don’t forget to give them lots of love!

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