How to Care for Silk Clothes

by Contributor ; Updated September 28, 2017

Avoid scorching silk by ironing using the lowest setting.

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Silk clothes are luxurious and beautiful whether they are made of heavy brocade, taffeta or regular day-wear silk. Many kinds of silk can be washed by hand as long as you are careful and treat the fabric gently. Be sure to check the label on your silk item before you hand wash it. If your garment is labeled "Dry Clean Only," it must be dry cleaned to preserve its form and color. Always test a small section of the silk with water and your mild detergent before you wash the entire garment to make sure the color will not bleed and the silk will not shrink. If the spot test turns out well, you can hand wash your silk item.

Items you will need

  • Mild laundry detergent
  • Vinegar
  • Towels
  • Padded hangers
  • Mesh drying rack
  • Iron
  • Cedar chips
  • Garment bags
Step 1

Fill your sink or bathtub with cool water and mild laundry detergent. Let your silk item soak for a few minutes. Do not rub or scrub the fabric.

Step 2

Rinse the silk clothes with 1/4 cup of vinegar diluted in 1 gallon of water. This will help to restore the shine of the silk.

Step 3

Rinse with plain water until vinegar odor is gone and detergent is completely rinsed out.

Step 4

Place silk item between two clean dry towels and press down gently to remove excess water. Do not wring out silk.

Step 5

Hang silk item on a padded hanger or drape over a mesh drying rack. Do not use a wood rack because wood varnish may transfer to the wet silk and ruin your clothing item.

Step 6

Iron your silk clothing using an iron on the lowest setting. You can hang lighter silk items in the bathroom while you shower -- the humidity will remove wrinkles from many silk items.

Step 7

Store your silk clothes in your closet or drawers with cedar chips. Place items not used regularly in garment bags.


  • Treat stains immediately. Rub a little mild detergent on stain, let sit, then rinse in cool water. For lipstick stains, place a piece of tape over the stain and rip it off gently. Use "green" dry cleaners if your item must be dry cleaned. Chemicals are bad for silk. Wash items labeled "Washable Silk" such as silk underwear in the washing machine on the gentle cycle in a mesh bag. Hang dry on a padded hanger or on a mesh drying rack.


  • Do not hand wash heavy brocade, taffeta, crepe or satin. It will shrink and never look as pressed and shiny again if you don't dry clean it. Some suits and formal dresses fall into this category. Do not wash or dry clean silk that has heavy beading on it. Many evening dresses fall into this category. Read the directions on the label. Most will tell you to spot clean with warm water and a mild soap mixture. Then, just air the dress out. Don't hang any silk item in the sun to dry. It will yellow or fade. Never use bleach on silk. Never dry silk in the dryer. You will ruin the fabric.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images