The Secret of How to Clean Silk

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Secrets of how to clean silkSilk is a wonderful luxury item that feels amazing against your skin. It should be kept scrupulously clean so the fibers don't get damaged and "shatter' the fabric.

While you could take you silk scarves and clothes to a dry cleaner it does get pricey and all those chemicals they use really are not good for the silk.

There is an easy and relatively cheap way for you to wash and take care of all your silk at home.

I have been collecting antique and vintage silk scarves for years and I learned this method from a fabric conservator-restorer. This is the only way I will clean them now.
Silk is made from silk worms and is both a very strong fabric and a very delicate one. The most important thing you need to keep in mind when you are cleaning it is that you need to handle the wet fabric very carefully because if it is old and frail the weight of the water can cause rips in it.

Washing silk
Fill a sink with cold water and add about 1 tablespoon of delicate laundry cleaner like Zero and mix. Before you put the silk in water check to see if there are any stains on it. If there are then wet the stain, dab some Zero on it, let sit for about a minute and very gently try to rub the stain out. 

Put the silk in the sink and using your hands press up and down against the fabric so the water moves through it. Let it sit in the sink for 2 minutes.

Push the silk aside and drain the water from the sink and fill with fresh water. Again using your hands press up and down against the fabric so the water moves through it. You don't want to be lifting the silk in and out of the sink as the fabric heavy from water can get damaged.

Push the silk aside and drain water and fill again with clean water to rinse. You might have to rinse the fabric several times.

How to wash silk
Carefully remove the wet silk from the sink and fold it together press any excess moisture from it. Lay the item out on a towel and roll the towel up and press hard so the water is pressed out of the silk and into the towel. Unroll the fabric from the towel. (I used a white towel for this tutorial but since silk can sometimes loose some dye use an older towel that you don't mind getting dye stains on.



How to wash silk
Taking another clean towel lay the silk flat again and roll it up and this time put it in the refrigerator.....yes I just told you to put your rolled up fabric in the refrigerator.  For some odd reason this helps the silk dry faster and safer than any other method. 








ironing silk
Leave it in for half an hour and when you remove it lay it on a flat padded surface to iron it on the lowest heat. 

Place a clean white cotton cloth over it before you iron (I use a thin white cotton table napkin). You might have to dampen the cotton cloth a little bit.

If it is a silk scarf do not iron the edges because on a good silk scarf the edges will have been hand rolled and they are suppose to be full, not flat.

Secrets of how to clean silk
The first silk item you wash might take a little bit of time but once you start washing your own silk scarves and clothes you will find that that they come out cleaner and will last much longer than if you take them to a dry cleaner.






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Copyright Ingrid Talpak 2012
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2 Comments

Is handwashing via this method recommended for black garments?

Yes, you can hand wash black garments using this method but when you roll them up in the towel to dry them, if the dye is cheap, then it might discolor the towel.

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