Silk is a luxurious but also delicate fabric. That is why we need to follow a few rules while washing to make it last long. The more you know how to take care of your silk pillowcase, the more it will take care of your skin and hair.
“Can you wash silk pillowcases”? The short answer is, yes! You can wash silk pillowcases. Washing them is easy as we are about to see. You do not have to stick with dry cleaning all the time.
You can even opt for machine washing if you’re not comfortable with handwashing.
The following is the step-by-step guide how to wash your silk pillowcases the proper way. I will explain two approaches:
- Washing silk by hand
- Using a machine to wash silk
Because I believe using a machine is not the most suitable way to wash silk, this guide will focus on washing by hand. Some people use machines but I would never recommend it any day.
I will begin with instructions for hand-washing silk.
How to Wash Silk Pillowcase
1. Read the care label for washing conditions
The first step is to look at the care label. What does it say? Based on the image above, let me explain the meaning of the symbols in this silk beginning with the top left to right.
- Machine wash at 30 °C
- Hand wash
- Do not bleach
Bottom symbols from left to right:
- Do not tumble-dry
- Iron at the coolest setting
- Hang to dry in the shade
If your silk pillowcase is brand new, you might want to run a color fastness test. To do so, consider the following procedure:
- Place a white towel on top of a clean, flat surface, for instance, a table.
- Get a small glass of clean, cold water.
- Lay out the towel and wet one of its corners with the cold water.
- Spread the silk pillowcase over the towel.
- Use the wet corner of the white towel to press the silk against the towel.
- Make sure you do this in an inconspicuous place such as the corner of the pillowcase.
- After pressing the wet towel against the small area you have selected on the pillowcase, lift it to see if the color of the fabric transfers to the white towel beneath.
- If the color of the pillowcase transfers to the white towel then it means you must not wash it. Dry clean it instead.
Only hand-wash if there is no color between your silk piece and the white towel.
2. Fill a basin with cold water (< 30°C or 86 °F)
This is the ideal temperature for hand-washing silk. Make sure that the temperature is not hotter than 30 degrees Celsius.
Normal tap water is okay.
3. Add a few drops of special detergent for silk pillowcases
Lilly Silk recommends using tenestar as the most appropriate detergent for washing pure silk.
Check out tenestar and its price on the link.
4. Mix the detergent and water
Use your hand to stir the water and the detergent until you’re satisfied with the mixture.
Put the silk pillowcase into the water containing the detergent and push dip it until it all gets wet.
Let the garment soak for 5 minutes.
5. Agitate the pillowcase in water
After the fabric has soaked for 5 minutes, pick it up and agitate it in an up and down motion.
You do this by lifting the garment out of the water and plunging it back down gently to move the water through the pores of the silk.
The up and down motion simulates the movement in a washing machine, but using your hand is much more gentle.
Make about 10-20 repetitions. However, you can do this until you’re satisfied with the process.
This will remove any dirt or residue without breaking silk fibers.
Note: Avoid rubbing your silk pillowcase with fingers because silk fiber is not as strong as cotton. Excessive rubbing will quickly damage your fabric but the goal is the make your silk pillowcase last long.
6. Rinse your silk pillowcase with clean cold water
Now it is time to rinse the silk pillowcase.
Put fresh, clean water in a bowl and plunge the silk pillowcase. Pour out the water and fill the bowl with another round of clean water.
Do this until the detergent has run out and only clear water comes out of the fabric.
7. Spread the pillowcase on a flat, slanting surface
This step replaces squeezing water out of the fabric by hand.
Take the rinsed pillowcase and spread it on a titled surface to allow excess water to run off.
8. Transfer to a clean, dry towel
No twisting or wringing. Silk is quite weak when wet but the fabric is more resistant when dry.
Spread a dry, clean towel on a steady surface and put your silk pillowcase over it. Roll your dry towel while tucking small portions of the pillowcase until it is completely covered.
9. Hang-dry your silk pillowcase
Do not use the drier after cleaning your silk pillowcase.
Do not dry you silk pillowcase directly on the sun light. Direct sunlight causes silk to fade and weakens the fabric.
Hang the pillowcase by holding it on the cloth line at its two edges. Use a soft grip style pin.
Hanging the pillowcase by throwing it over the cloth line at the middle of the fabric will dent your pillowcase.
Using wooden drying racks could leach stain onto your silk pillowcase. So avoid them. Use plastic racks or clean cotton ropes.
Should you Iron Silk Pillowcases
No, many times, ironing silk pillowcases is not necessary. Although silk will appear wrinkled after washing, it will begin to relax and smooth out after a few nights of use. You may iron them but protecting your silk pillowcases from heat. I recommend ironing silk pillowcases on the lowest heat setting allowed on your ironing board (because they are the only thing you will see when you sleep on them).
Keep your ironing to a minimum, using just the coldest setting and with pillowcases turned inside out. I would also advise that you use a cloth or towel to protect your silk item from the iron. The iron will glide more easily over the fabric if it is sprayed with a little steam.
Overall Washing Tips for Silk Pillowcases
(i) Using a Gentle Detergent
Many detergents are just way too harsh for silk, causing it to feel rough and scratchy after washing it with them. Select a gentle detergent, such as a wool wash, that is effective in cleaning while also protecting the fibers.
Hand-washing should be done with approximately one teaspoon per sink basin. The amount of detergent to use in the washing should range from two teaspoons to one-fourth cup, depending on the capacity of the laundry load.
(ii) Pretreating stains in silk pillowcase
As previously said, you should avoid using aggressive stain removers, brighteners, and even fabric softeners on your clothes.
As a precaution, always inspect your silk pillowcase for potential stains before washing it by hand-washing it with a mild detergent. Apply a small amount of the detergent to the stained area with your fingertips and massage it in. Allow at least 15 minutes for the detergent to do its work on the area before washing it. Taking this approach will give it more time to break down the stain molecules. After that, wash as usual.
Leave the chlorine bleach at home. This chemical has the potential to be extremely toxic to silk and will cause lasting damage to the fibers. Silk is capable of dissolving completely in chlorine bleach. Avoid using stain removers that include bleach if at all possible. If this product is utilized, you will see yellowing and fiber breakage.
(iii) Washing with Cold Water
When it comes to washing silk, cold water is the finest option. Hot water has the potential to deform the fibers.
(iv) Adding Vinegar while Rinsing
Always add a few drops of distilled white vinegar to the rinse water, whether you’re washing by hand or using a washing machine. The vinegar will aid in the removal of any soapy residue from the silk threads, resulting in a silky smooth finish.
Hand-washing water should include approximately one-fourth cup of soap per gallon of rinse water. Depending on the size of the load, add half a cup to a cup of vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser in your washer before starting the cycle.
How to Choose the Right Detergent for Washing Silk
Choosing an appropriate mild silk detergent, regardless of whether you hand wash or machine wash, is an absolute must. It’s important to remember that silk is a natural fiber (which is one of the reasons why it’s so good for sensitive skin!)
The use of detergents that are either excessively acidic or too alkaline will cause the fibers to stiffen and become more rigid.
I recommend using a neutral pH detergents particularly those developed for silk, such as those from Heritage Park Laundry Essentials, to prevent this from happening. With each wash, you’ll be able to keep the fabric’s integrity intact more easily.
Products to Avoid when washing Silk
To avoid damaging your silk pillowcases while laundering them, you should keep off harsh detergents as well as bleach, fabric softener, or any other sort of optical brightener. These are harmful to silk, and they can even discolor or destroy the fibers of the silk if used on it. Additionally, dry cleaning silk is not required. You can wash almost anything at home, including silk pillowcases and duvet covers, either by hand or by machine in the majority of instances.
Avoid Using a Hot Dryer
It is not possible to combine silk and high heat. Using a drying rack and keeping it away from direct heat and sunlight is the best approach to dry your pillowcase. If you need to get your pillowcase dry quickly, tumble dry it on the lowest heat setting on your machine and remove it while it is still somewhat moist. Allow it to dry naturally to complete the process.
Storing Your Silk Pillowcases
Keep silk pillowcases in a loose square shape without making any sharp wrinkles when storing them. This has the potential to weaken fibers. Prepare the pillowcase by folding it or rolling it in a delicate manner before placing it on a shelf to prevent it from being crushed.