Treat it gently and it will give years of enjoyment. European women have grown up with a reverence for silk fabric and an intimate knowledge of it’s care. Our “wash and wear” culture has an unnecessary fear of this cloth. Silk is a protein fiber, like hair. While most clothing manufacturers put a “Dry clean only” label in silk lingerie this, in many cases, is to prevent careless washing. Undergarments and smaller pieces, as well as simply constructed larger pieces, can usually be hand washed using the following guidelines.
While silk is a very strong fabric, it is delicate when wet so care must be taken with hand washable garments. Using a mild soap, silk wash or colorless shampoo (never detergents or bleach as they will “strip” the finish), soak the garment in lukewarm water for five minutes. Move it about gently, do not wring or twist. Rinse well in cool water to which a teaspoon of vinegar may be added to remove all traces of soap. Roll in a towel to absorb excess moisture and lay flat, straightening out seams. Iron while slightly damp on warm setting. Tailored silk garments such as robes and pyjamas require careful pressing in order to maintain their look and dry cleaning is highly recommended.
Styles that can be ironed “flat”, such as collarless pyjamas and gowns can be hand washed and pressed on the wrong side with a warm iron. If you must wash dark colored or printed silks, wash very quickly in cold water and mild soap. Move continuously and do not soak or colors may run into one another. Rinse with cold water and a little vinegar and lay flat to dry with a towel between layers to avoid colors bleeding into each other
Like most natural fabrics, silk wrinkles! Run a tub of hot water in your bathroom and hang the garment for an hour or so to eliminate the worst creases. Smooth finish silks like charmeuse, look fresher if pressed with a warm iron rather than steamed.
What not to do
- Never expose silk lingerie articles to strong direct sunlight. Silk lingerie will fade.
- Never spray perfume or deodorant on silk lingerie.
- Never soak silk lingerie in water for a long time.
- Never try to clean a “spot” or soiled area with water.
- Water leaves a ring around the wetted area that even Dry-cleaning may not remove.