Silk is one of the most luxurious fabrics you can get your hands on (literally). But it’s also one of the most finicky fabrics to wash. Made from natural protein fibers, silk is super delicate and prone to fraying. It’s normal to feel nervous about washing silk at home, which is why a lot of people defer to the dry cleaner to get the job done.
But we’ve got good news: Plenty of silk garments and bedding are machine-washable—as long as you follow the manufacturer’s care instructions.
In this article, we’ll show you how to wash silk clothes and silk sheets in the washing machine so you can save a trip to the dry cleaner.
1. Check Your Fabric Care Label
Always check the care label on your silk garments before attempting to wash them. It may advise you to hand wash only, avoid bleach, or avoid ironing.
If the label says “dry clean only,” don’t ignore it. This means the fabric is super delicate and prone to damage. If the label says “hand wash only,” skip down to our section on how to hand wash silk.
If you determine your silk items are machine washable, you’re ready for the next step.
2. Check for Colorfastness
Dyed silk has a tendency to fade more easily than other fabrics, so it’s important to test your garment for colorfastness before washing it. That’s a fancy way of saying “make sure the colors don’t bleed.”
Start by taking a clean, damp cloth and dabbing an inconspicuous area (like the inside seam). If any color rubs off, don’t put it in the washing machine. Instead, take it to a professional cleaner.
3. Place Silk Items In a Mesh Bag
Putting silk garments directly into the washer drum can expose them to excess agitation, leading to potential abrasive damage. Instead, place your silk garments in a mesh laundry bag.
This creates a barrier to prevent friction and snagging during the wash cycle. It also prevents the silk fibers from stretching or becoming misshapen when they get wet.
4. Place a Laundry Pod In Your Washing Machine
Place a laundry pod in your washer drum along with your silk garments. The best laundry detergent for silk fabrics is a mild, dye-free formula like Laundry Sauce .
Pro tip: Put the pod towards the back bottom of the drum so the water immediately disperses the laundry detergent evenly.
If you pour liquid detergent into your washing machine, there’s a chance it will stain your silk garments. That’s why it’s better to use a laundry pod with a pre-measured dose that dissolves at the exact right time during the wash cycle.
Want your silk garments to smell as luxurious as they feel? Treat your silk to Laundry Sauce: the world’s best-smelling laundry detergent that comes in fragrances like Australian Sandalwood , Egyptian Rose , and French Saffron .
5. Start a Gentle Cycle with Cold Water
Your washing machine cycle can make or break your silk garments—literally.
Silk should always be washed on a gentle or delicate cycle. This will use a slower agitation motion and spin cycle to prevent excessive friction and stretching.
When it comes to water temperature, opt for cool or cold. Temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit can damage silk fabric and cause its color to bleed (not to mention warm water uses more energy).
6. Blot Dry with a Cotton Towel
To dry silk garments, blot them dry with a clean, white cotton towel. Never wring them out, as this can damage the fibers. Once all the excess water is soaked up, hang your garment on a padded hanger or drying rack to air-dry indoors. (Don’t dry silk items in direct sunlight—the UV rays can cause fading).
Pro tip: Never put silk clothes or bedding in the dryer. The combination of heat and agitation can weaken the fibers and dull the silk’s natural luster.
How to Hand Wash Silk Clothes
If the care instructions on your silk garment say “hand wash only,” don’t ignore it. Just follow these 6 steps:
1. Fill your sink or a basin with cool water and submerge the garment.
2. Add a few drops of mild detergent or baby shampoo and use your hand to stir the solution.
3. Let your item(s) soak for 3-5 minutes.
4. Gently stir the garment in the water for a few minutes.
5. Remove the garment from the basin and rinse it with cold water until all the soap is gone.
6. Dab the garment with a dry towel, making sure not to rub or agitate it, then hang it to dry.
Common Questions About Washing Silk
Now that you know the basics about washing silk, let’s cover some questions you might have on laundry day.
Does Silk Shrink When Washed?
Silk can potentially shrink if the fabric is exposed to heat during the washing or drying process. Warm temperatures cause the fibers to contract—that’s why it’s best to use cool or cold water.
Do You Have to Dry Clean Silk Clothes?
Silk only needs to be dry cleaned if your garment care label explicitly states “dry clean only.” Otherwise, you should be in the clear to hand wash or machine wash your garment using the tips we covered above.
Can You Put Silk in the Dryer?
That’s a hard no—you should never put silk in the dryer, even on a low-heat or no-heat setting.
How Do You Remove Stains from Silk?
If you have a tough stain on your silk, spot-treat it with a mixture of liquid dish soap and cold water. With a clean cloth, gently dab the stain with the soapy solution and then rinse it with cold water. If the stain won’t go away, you might need to take your garment to a dry cleaner.
Treat Your Silk to the Sauce
Washing silk can be tricky, but choosing the best detergent is easy. Laundry Sauce pods combine high performance and premium fragrances to turn any laundry day into a luxury experience.
When you treat your silk to the Sauce, your outfit will smell as luxurious as it feels.