How to Wash Silk Clothes: The Complete Guide to Cleaning Silk!

Written by: Zuzanna Sato



Time to read 9 min


How to Wash Silk Clothes: The Complete Guide To Cleaning Silk!

As a sustainable fashion designer who's all about vintage silk fabrics, I totally understand the challenges that come with washing delicate silk clothes.

Years of careful handling and cleaning vintage Japanese kimonos and obi belts to turn them into show-stopping pieces you can see here, taught me loads of tips and tricks for keeping silk looking fabulous.

I know some people worry about taking care of silk, thinking it's a hassle. But trust me, I've got your back. Sure, silk needs a little extra love, but the beauty, versatility, skin-friendly nature, and rich history make it totally worth it. It's like caring for a piece of art that has a story to tell.

Silk clothes are known for their luxurious feel and elegant appearance. Whether it's a silk blouse, dress, or even a silk scarf, taking proper care of these delicate garments is essential to maintain their beauty and longevity. 

In this ultimate guide, we will walk you through the steps on how to wash silk clothes like a pro, ensuring that they remain soft, vibrant, and looking as good as new for years to come.

The Importance of Washing Silk Clothes Properly

Silk is a natural protein fiber that requires delicate handling when it comes to washing. Unlike other fabrics, silk can easily be damaged by harsh detergents, excessive agitation, or incorrect drying techniques. Therefore, understanding the importance of washing silk clothes properly is crucial to avoid ruining these precious garments.

Not only can improper washing cause silk fabric to lose its luster and become dull, but it can also lead to shrinkage and distortion of the garment's shape. By following the correct washing methods, you can preserve the integrity of the fabric and maintain the original beauty of your silk clothes.

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Preparing Silk Clothes for Washing

Before you begin the washing your silk clothes, it's essential to prepare your silk garments properly.

Start by checking the care label on the garment, as it will provide specific instructions for washing and drying. If the care label states "dry clean only," it's best to take your silk clothes to a professional cleaner to avoid any potential damage.

For silk clothes that are safe to wash at home, start by gently removing any stains or spots using a mild detergent or stain remover suitable for silk.

Test the detergent on an inconspicuous area of the garment to ensure it doesn't cause discoloration or damage. Once the stains are treated, it's time to move on to the actual washing process.

how to wash silk clothes, how to clean silk
Image from CanvaPro

How to Wash Silk Clothes by Hand Step-by-Step

Hand washing is the gentlest method to clean silk clothes, as it allows for complete control over the washing process.

Follow these steps to hand wash your silk garments:

1. Fill a clean basin or sink with lukewarm water and add a small amount of mild detergent specifically designed for delicate fabrics.

2. Gently submerge the silk clothes into the water and agitate them by hand for a few minutes. Avoid scrubbing or twisting the fabric, as it can cause damage.

3. Let the silk clothes soak in the soapy water for about 5 to 10 minutes to allow the detergent to penetrate and lift any dirt or oils.

4. Rinse the silk clothes thoroughly with cool water until all the soap is removed. Avoid wringing or twisting the fabric during the rinsing process.

5. To remove excess water, gently press the silk clothes against the side of the basin or sink. Do not wring or twist the fabric, as it can lead to stretching or distortion.

6. Lay a clean, absorbent towel on a flat surface and place the silk clothes on top. Roll the towel and silk together, gently pressing to absorb any remaining moisture.

7. Unroll the towel and transfer the silk clothes onto a drying rack or clean, dry towel. Reshape the garment if necessary and allow it to air dry completely.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your silk clothes are washed thoroughly yet gently, preserving their softness and shine.

Machine Washing Silk Clothes - Dos and Don'ts

While hand washing is the preferred method for washing silk clothes, there are instances where machine washing may be necessary.However, machine washing should only be done with extreme caution and under specific circumstances.

Here are the dos and don'ts of machine washing silk clothes:


1. Use a gentle cycle and select the shortest duration option on your washing machine.

2. Place the silk clothes in a mesh laundry bag to protect them from excessive agitation and friction with other garments.

3. Use a mild detergent specifically formulated for delicate fabrics.

4. Wash silk clothes separately from other items to prevent color bleeding or fabric damage.

5. Promptly remove the silk clothes from the washing machine once the cycle is complete to avoid wrinkling or excessive moisture.


1. Avoid using bleach or any harsh chemicals that can damage or discolor silk fabric.

2. Do not overload the washing machine, as it can lead to excessive agitation and potential damage to the silk clothes.

3. Skip the fabric softener, as it can leave a residue on the silk fabric and affect its natural luster.

4. Never use hot water, as it can cause silk fabric to shrink or lose its shape.

Machine washing silk clothes should be reserved for situations when hand washing is not feasible. 

Always check the care label and follow the manufacturer's instructions before machine washing silk garments.

how to wash silk clothes, how to clean silk
Image from CanvaPro

Drying Silk Clothes - Air Drying vs. Machine Drying

Drying silk clothes is another crucial step in the washing process.

The drying method you choose can significantly impact the fabric's appearance and longevity.

Here's a comparison between air drying and machine drying silk clothes:

Air Drying:

Air drying is the safest and preferred method for drying silk clothes. It allows the fabric to retain its natural shape and prevents any potential damage caused by heat or excessive agitation.

Follow these steps for air drying silk clothes:

1. After gently removing excess water, lay the silk clothes flat on a clean, dry towel or drying rack.

2. Reshape the garment if necessary, smoothing out any wrinkles or folds.

3. Avoid direct sunlight and heat sources, as they can fade the color of the silk fabric.

4. Allow the silk clothes to air dry completely before wearing or storing.

Machine Drying:

Machine drying silk clothes should be avoided whenever possible, as it can lead to shrinkage, distortion, or damage to the fabric. However, if you need to use a dryer, follow these guidelines:

1. Select the lowest heat setting on your dryer, preferably the delicate or air fluff option.

2. Place the silk clothes in a mesh laundry bag to protect them from excessive tumbling and friction.

3. Remove the silk clothes from the dryer while they are still slightly damp to prevent over-drying.

Remember, air drying is the safest option for silk clothes, and machine drying should only be used as a last resort.

How to Remove Stains from Silk Clothes

Accidents happen, and silk clothes are not immune to stains. If you encounter a stain on your silk garment, it's crucial to act promptly to prevent it from setting.

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to remove stains from silk clothes:

1. Blot the stain gently with a clean, white cloth or paper towel to absorb any excess liquid.

2. Do not rub or scrub the stain, as it can spread and worsen the damage.

3. If the stain is water-soluble, gently rinse the fabric with cool water from the back of the stain to push it out.

4. For oily or greasy stains, place a clean, white cloth or paper towel over the stain and apply a small amount of talcum powder or cornstarch to absorb the oil. Let it sit for a few minutes, then gently brush off the powder.

5. For stubborn stains, treat the area with a mild detergent specifically formulated for silk. Apply a small amount to the stain and gently rub it with your fingertips or a soft-bristled brush.

6. Rinse the area thoroughly with cool water, ensuring all the detergent is removed.

7. If the stain persists, consult a professional cleaner who specializes in silk garments.

Remember to always test any stain-removing method on an inconspicuous area of the garment before applying it to the stain directly. This will ensure that the treatment does not cause any discoloration or damage to the silk fabric.

How to Iron and Steam Silk Clothes

Ironing and steaming silk clothes help to remove wrinkles and restore their smooth appearance.

However, it's essential to use caution and follow the correct techniques to avoid damaging the delicate fabric.

Here's how to iron and steam silk clothes:


1. Set your iron to the lowest heat setting suitable for silk fabric - usually labeled as "silk" or "low."

2. Place a clean, white cloth or a pressing cloth over the silk fabric to protect it from direct contact with the iron.

3. Gently press the iron on the cloth, moving it in a back-and-forth motion to remove wrinkles. Avoid leaving the iron in one place for too long, as it can cause scorching or burning.

4. Iron the silk clothes in small sections, repositioning the pressing cloth as needed.

5. Hang the silk clothes or lay them flat to cool completely before wearing or storing.


1. Fill a steamer with distilled water and heat it according to the manufacturer's instructions.

2. Hang the silk clothes on a hanger or lay them flat on a clean surface.

3. Hold the steamer a few inches away from the silk fabric and gently steam the entire garment, moving in a downward motion.

4. Allow the silk clothes to air dry and cool completely before wearing or storing.

Always make sure to test the iron or steamer on an inconspicuous area of the garment to ensure it does not cause any damage or discoloration. 

Additionally, avoid using excessive steam or pressing too hard, as it can leave water marks or impressions on the silk fabric.

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Tips for Caring for Silk Clothes

To keep your silk clothes looking beautiful and ensure their longevity, here are some additional tips for caring for silk garments:

1. Store silk clothes in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to prevent color fading.

2. Avoid spraying perfume or hairspray directly onto silk fabric, as it can cause stains or discoloration.

3. If possible, hang silk clothes instead of folding them to prevent creasing or wrinkling.

4. Use padded hangers or wrap silk clothes in acid-free tissue paper when storing to maintain their shape.

5. Avoid using heavy accessories or jewelry that can snag or pull the delicate silk fabric.

6. Periodically rotate the silk clothes in your wardrobe to prevent prolonged exposure to light and air.

You can read more about how to store and protect silk clothes here. 

By following these tips, you can ensure that your silk clothes remain in excellent condition and continue to bring joy and elegance to your wardrobe for years to come.

How to Wash silk clothes - The Conclusion

Silk clothes are truly a luxury to wear, and with the right care, they can last a lifetime.

By understanding the importance of washing silk clothes properly, preparing them for washing, and following the appropriate steps for hand washing or machine washing, you can maintain the beauty and integrity of your silk garments.

Remember to always air dry silk clothes whenever possible and avoid machine drying to prevent shrinkage or damage.

Treat stains promptly, use caution when ironing or steaming, and follow the additional tips for caring for silk clothes to keep them looking beautiful.

With this ultimate guide, you now have the knowledge and tools to wash your silk clothes like a pro.

Enjoy the softness and luxury of silk, knowing that you are taking the best care of these delicate garments.

Now that you've learned the secrets of silk care, why not explore our collection and find some new favorites?
If you're a fan of silk's luxurious feel and versatility, you'll love our 
silk dresses, silk oversized coats and silk boho bags

At DressYourColor we're passionate about giving these silk treasures a second life, and we hope you'll find something you adore too. Dive into our collection of handmade garments crafted from authentic Japanese vintage kimonos and obi belts and explore the beauty and history woven into every piece!

We'd love to hear about your experiences with silk care!

Do you have any special tips or tricks that have worked wonders for you?

Share your thoughts in the comments below so we can all learn from each other's expertise.

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