Silk is a fabric made from animal fiber generated by silkworms that spin it to build cocoons. Silk is generally used for clothing such as blouses, dresses and ties, but it can also be used to make sheets and curtains. It has a fine, elegant and delicate appearance, but as a fabric, it has several disadvantages.
Silk is one of the most expensive fabrics on the market. Compared to cotton or nylon, silk is pricey. Silk ties or silk sheets cost significantly more than cotton counterparts because of the fabric's elegant appearance and the difficulty in its manufacture. Silk is considered a luxury product; expect to pay more for it.
Silk is more difficult to care for than other fabrics. Dry cleaning is generally the preferred method for cleaning silk. If you plan to hand wash, test a small area first. Hand washing each garment separately using a silk-specific detergent or mild soap is advisable to keep silk looking fine. Silk cannot be bleached or soaked in prewash products. All silk items must be air dried and steam ironed on a low setting. Wringing or twisting silk garments can ruin and permanently damage the clothing.
Although silk is valued for its delicacy, that same delicacy is considered a disadvantage of the fabric. Silk fades easily in direct sunlight, so a new garment dried outside can look old and worn. The fabric has a tendency to develop a yellow color over time and is particularly prone to perspiration stains. Traveling with silk garments can be impractical because silk wrinkles easily and requires a steam iron. Silk is also water absorbent, so liquid stains are obvious.
Nonorganic silk is often unethically obtained. Silkworms or silk-producing moths are sometimes harmed or killed during the collection of their silk cocoons. Silk cocoons are collected before the worm reaches maturity and this interferes with its life cycle. Organic silk or wild silk is animal-friendly and is collected ethically.
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Based in Colorado, Gisela Chavez has been writing and editing since 2004. Her editorial experience ranges from editing technical documents to editing for “The Bloomsbury Review.” She earned a professional writing certificate from the University of Colorado, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in English and Spanish.