Things to Know Before Washing Silk
Silk is made from protein fibres produced by silkworms - it is strong and a beautiful textile to wear because it captures colour like no other and drapes luxuriously over the body. Silk itself is extremely washable. Some silk manufacturers may not use stable dyes when dying the fabric which may make it bleed and fade. At Banded Together we test all our fabrics to ensure that they meet the best level of colourfastness. Silk also weakens when wet and can degrade in heat but this doesn’t mean it is not washable. It just means that you need to wash it a certain (easy!) way to keep your silk garment as fresh as new for much longer.
Better to be safe than sorry!
Always test colourfastness before washing silk. Its easy to test silk, just wet the corner of a white towel and dab an inconspicuous area of your silk garment, if colour runs onto the towel, better to dry clean. Banded Together silk garments (unless specified) have all been tested for colourfastness so you are good to go!
Wash garments separately - especially for the first time. This prevents any residual dye from transferring to another garment.
Use a good quality silk wash
Use a mild PH neutral detergent (something that doesn’t contain bleaches, brighteners or enzymes) that is safe on silk. Bleaches especially can make lighter silks more yellow. Alkaline detergents (most normal laundry liquids) are designed to attack protein stains and can badly damage silk - opt for a PH neutral silk wash and you will be safe.
Go with it…
Expect a little change with laundering. Like denim, silk tightens when it comes into contact with water and can shrink. Good silk brands will have minimal (2-5%) shrinkage after the first wash as the fabric has been pre-shrunk and pre-steamed before and during the manufacturing process. Without these processes the shrinkage would be much higher.
NB: If you are sewing a silk garment for yourself, its a good idea to wash the fabric before you start cutting it for this reason.
Water can also change the hand feel of silk - a smooth finish can sometimes become pebbled. We overcome this by steaming the garment which gives it a crisp look. We also find that dry cleaning silks every 3rd time they are laundered them helps keep them looking fresh.
Less is more..
Only wash silk when you need to. A steam inbetween wears will give it a light clean and freshen it. As silk is naturally antibacterial it shouldn’t smell after a single wear.
Try and prevent moisture when storing silk by using cotton garment covers and leaving ain a dry cupboard. Best to also avoid direct sunlight when drying it. Both moisture and sun can make silk more yellow.
When to dry clean
Take the garment to a professional dry cleaner if you have stained it badly and are freaking out. Don’t apply water to fresh stains - especially if you’ve never washed the garment before - it could make it worse.
If you like your garment to look as new for longer, dry cleaning it is the preferred cleaning method although washing with care is also very good.
Our recommendations are a guide only and results can vary with different fabrics, cleaning solutions, water PH levels etc. We cannot always guarantee success but these methods are all tried and tested by us. We never recommend using chlorine bleach or fabric softener. Do not iron or apply heat to stained items.