How to Care For Silk Clothing: 10 Tips

Does the thought of owning a beautiful but delicate silk garment scare you? We feel your pain — but it doesn’t have to be so daunting. While it’s a little more work than just running the washer, learning how to care for a silk shirt will help you get the most mileage out of your higher-quality garments.

We’re sharing 10 tips to help you learn how to care for silk garments with ease!

1. Check the Care Label

If your silk clothing says “dry clean only” on the care label, then it might be best to leave it to the professional cleaners to avoid damage to your garments.

However, not all silk needs to be dry cleaned. You can still wash luxurious fabrics like silk at home, as long as you treat it right. We’ll go over how to wash your silk clothes in further detail below.

2. Test for Colorfastness

Many silk clothes feature vibrant colors and bold patterns; learning how to care for a silk shirt with prints can be a bit tricky. We recommend testing for colorfastness before you first wash them.

Wet a small area of the fabric with cold water, ideally somewhere that won’t be noticeable if the color is affected. Then, use a cotton swab to gently press on the wet material to see if there is any color residue. If there is, dry cleaning is the way to go. But if the swab comes clean you can hand wash your silk, as explained below.

3. Pre-Treat Stains Before Washing

If you don’t treat stains before washing your clothing, they may become permanent. The most effective way to remove stains from silk is using a 1:1 mixture of silk detergent and cool water. Use a cotton Q-tip to gently rub the solution into the stained area on the front and back of the garment until the stain is gone.

Here’s how to make a DIY stain treatment. Combine:

  • 2 cups of lukewarm water
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or white vinegar.

Spray the mix on the stain and double the fabric to gently work it into the area without rubbing. Then wash according to the instructions.

To avoid having to pre-treat stains, learn how to prevent them in the first place. Try wearing a sweat proof undershirt whenever you wear a silk shirt or blouse, so you can extend the lifespan of every wear and reduce the number of washes or stain treatments.

4. Use Silk-Friendly Detergent

Always use detergents, treatments and other products made explicitly for silk, such as Woolite, Tide Studio Delicates and The Laundress Delicate Wash. These products gently clean silk without harsh detergents that could ruin the color or material.

5. Hand Wash Gently

Washing silk items by hand is one of the safest, gentlest ways to care for silk clothing at home. Here’s how:

  • Use cold water and silk detergent in a clean bowl or bucket: This preserves the vibrancy and quality of the silk for as long as possible.
  • Be gentle: Do not rub the silk to remove stains or twist the garment to wring out extra water. Instead, gently swirl the garment to ensure all areas are washed.
  • Rinse thoroughly:After washing the garment, rinse it in a fresh bowl of cool, clean water. You might need to repeat the process for larger items like silk skirts to ensure no soap is left behind.
  • Use a towel: Lay the garment flat on a towel, then roll the towel up and gently press down. This will carefully remove excess water without wrinkling the material.
  • Hang dry or dry flat: Silk is a lightweight material that tends to dry quickly. Always dry your silks in the shade to avoid fading from direct sunlight.

6. Machine Wash With Care

The silk cycle or delicate cycle on a washing machine is usually gentler than washing silk by hand. A big perk of using a washing machine is that the spin cycle removes excess water, so all you have to do is air-dry your garments afterward.

Be sure to put your silk clothes in a laundry bag to protect them while they’re in the washing machine. You should always wash colors separately to prevent them from running and ruining your silks.

7. Wash Silk Separately From Other Fabrics

When machine washing your silks, even the delicate cycle can’t prevent the silk from snagging on other materials, zippers, buttons and more. So no matter what method you use, make sure you wash silk separately from other fabrics to avoid damage.

8. Iron Silk Gently

Air drying your silk flat or on a drying rack should prevent any wrinkles or creases. However, if you want to smooth it over a little more, we recommend using a steamer, which avoids applying direct heat to the material.

If you want to iron your silk clothing, make sure to use a low heat setting or a silk setting, if available, and iron on the backside of the fabric. You can use a pressing cloth to iron double-sided silk.

9. Store Silk Carefully

After carefully washing and drying your silk clothes, you must also store them properly. The rule of thumb is to keep silk clothing in a cool, dry and dark place with some airflow. Avoid direct sunlight to preserve the colors of your silks. The cool, dry and dark environment will also be less attractive to silk-eating moths, which can leave unsightly holes that ruin your clothes.

Silk is a natural fiber, so don’t pack up your silk clothing in tightly sealed plastic bags. Instead, hang them inside breathable cotton garment bags to prevent wrinkles and creases so they’ll be ready to wear.

10. Protect Silk Garments With a Sweat Proof Shirt

With some time and practice, learning how to take care of silk clothes isn’t too complicated. However, your ultimate goal should be to wash silk garments as infrequently as possible. By wearing a protective Thompson Tee sweat proof undershirt beneath your silk clothing, you can avoid underarm stains, wet marks and odors.

Thompson Tee’s patented sweat proof technology stops underarm sweat stains and odor from ruining your clothes, especially delicate silk fabrics. Available in multiple styles for both men and women, Thompson Tee undershirts pair well with any top or outer layer material, including silk, wool, cashmere and more.

Try a Thompson Tee risk-free today!