How to wash a silk pillowcase is the common question I get, especially as they can get stained with makeup etc
Working in Asia for many years as a silk painter, I came to know silk intimately and learned important tips on how to handle it with care. While it is quite a strong fabric, you still need to take special care when washing a silk pillowcase.
Your silk is an investment piece. Knowing how to handle it gives you the peace of mind that its delicate feel and touch is preserved for as long as possible.
Let me share my top tips with you as follows:
Don’t let silk scare you, because it’s easy to clean. A silk pillowcase lends itself best to hand washing to preserve the integrity of the silk
The best approach is to hand wash silk in 30 degrees C (86F). Fill your sink with lukewarm water and add a little gentle pH neutral liquid detergent. Gently agitate with your hand. Remember that silk is a protein, quite like your hair, so no harsh detergents please. Absolutely no bleach, as this can damage the fibres! No fabric softener,as it can leave a film on the surface of the silk.
Place the silk pillowcase in the water, agitate it a little and gently move it from side to side to remove dirt. Then let it sit for just a few minutes. Silk releases dirt quickly. Don’t let it soak for a long period. Rinse it well in fresh water to remove all detergent.
Towel dry your silk Never wring out your silk item (it can damage the silk). To remove the excess water when washing a silk pillowcases, place the silk item on a white towel. Roll up the towel. Gently press on the rolled-up towel to absorb excess moisture. Hang it to air dry or lay it flat. Protect it from direct sunlight.
Never toss silk in the dryer as the heat can damage or shrink the silk. Keep silk out of direct sunlight
Use a gentle detergent. As silk is such a delicate fabric, it’s quite important to use a special silk detergent, or a little gentle pH neutral liquid detergent. Woolite for Delicates is good and easily available. This will be gentle on the silk’s natural fibres
Hand-washing is best, but if your washing machine has a delicate cycle, then that will be fine.
Bag it: It’s worth investing in a mesh bag to protect your delicate silk pillowcase from tangling or getting caught with other items in the wash.
Turn it inside out:
It’s a good idea to turn the silk pillowcases inside out before machine washing. Avoid overloading machine and don’t wash it with heavy pieces of clothing like jeans.
Silk should only be washed with gentle liquid detergents, preferably with a special silk detergent or ph neutral liquid detergent.
Select Delicate Setting
Set your washing machine at the lowest temperature it has to offer- “gentle wash” or a dedicated “silk cycle” – at a temperature not higher than 30 degrees Celsius. Washing at a higher temperature can damage your silk. Choose the shortest spin cycle. Remove promptly when the cycle is finished to avoid wrinkles.
Enjoy the luxury of sleeping on a silk pillowcase and wake up refreshed.
The key is to be gentle, because rubbing can harm the silk fibres. When you discover a stain, try and treat it as soon as possible before it dries and settles. This increases your chances of success.
First lay the silk item flat on top of a clean towel. The towel can absorb any water or detergent and ensures the silk doesn’t slip away. This is especially helpful with silk eye masks.
Make a solution
Then, spot treat the stain with a 50/50 mixture of water and silk detergent. You only need a few drops of detergent. If you don’t have a silk or delicate detergent at hand, a mild baby shampoo can work. Don’t use any store-bought stain remover liquids, as these are too harsh for silk.
Dip a cotton bud into your solution of water and silk detergent, and gently dab it onto the stain. Don’t go too hard or over-rub the spot, as this can damage your silk.
Then turn your silk over and repeat this process on the backside of your silk. The stain is now treated, and your scarf should now be ready for hand washing.
Always iron silk when it is slightly damp.
Setting: Use the iron on low heat or silk/delicate setting.Make sure your iron is clean so it won’t transfer dirt onto the silk. It’s best to turn your silk item inside out for ironing.
If you have stubborn wrinkles, you can try steaming them, but make sure the temperature is not too hot. I always use distilled water in my iron to avoid any water stains, especially on my silk pillowcases. Also avoid spraying with your regular spray bottle because this can be the main culprit for water stains – use distilled water in a special spray bottle.
Don’t let iron sit
Keep the iron moving – don’t let it rest on an area for more than a few seconds. This will avoid damaging the sheen of the silk.
If your iron does not have a silk setting, lay a cloth between the silk and the iron.
Keep the silk taut as you iron to prevent further wrinkles developing. Let the silk pillowcase cool on the ironing board before removing it. This lets the silk settle.