6 easy ways to get wrinkles out of silk garments at home handheld steamer

How to steam silk with a steamer and why you should do it

Ever had a garment that’s just slightly crinkled, just ever slightly so. So slight that you can’t quite bring yourself to call it a wrinkle. I get these crinkles on my silk pieces ever so often. Likely because my wardrobe is stuffed to the brim.

I should really look into decluttering, that would help prevent wrinkles and crinkles, but that would take so much time!

Meanwhile, I have another solution – the garment steamer! I have both a standing and handheld garment steamer, both removes wrinkles and crinkles perfectly. Reasons of which I’ll share here [Link].

Since I have so much love for my garment steamers, I thought it’ll be good to share the benefits and some tips on using them.

Benefits of using a steamer and why you should use one:

Preserve Delicate Fabrics, easy even for beginners

It is a gentler approach to removing wrinkles as it does not carry the risk of burning fabric. This is a less stressful and easier compared to ironing silk and a much more foolproof and suitable choice for beginners to silk care.

Removes wrinkles effortlessly

Steams out wrinkles and crinkles, resulting in a more relaxed, casual finish. It allows the silk garments to drape perfectly on the body, giving it the effortless and chic look that I love. In fact, I only iron my silks when I need the crisp professional look.

Kills germs

Steaming kills odour-causing bacteria, removing any unpleasant smells.

Reduces allergens and allergies

Steaming removes allergens that attracts dust mites. A lot of allergic reactions are caused by dust mites. Silk is naturally hypoallergenic and does not attract dust mites, but steaming it clean does no harm either.

Doesn’t pollute the environment with chemicals

Steaming only requires electricity, water and heat. There is no need for any use of detergents and other chemical agents.

Freshens items between washing or dry cleaning

Steaming your silk pieces will remove any lingering smells. It refreshes the silk as well. This reduces the need for frequent washes, extending the lifespan of your silk piece. Not to mention, its better for the environment and wallet!

Basics of using a garment steamer

Water tank care

how to steam silk with a steamer and why you should do it
Fill up the water tank, but not past the maximum volume.

Fill your steamer with fresh water each time you use it.

When you are done with the steamer, wait for it to cool completely before opening the water tank to empty the water. Do not open when the steamer is hot, steam vapours may cause serious burns.

Always drain any remaining water from the steamer. It is a good idea to put in a bit of new water after that, shake the steamer to loosen any mineral build up and empty all the water again. Leaving remnant water in the reservoir may result in the growth of mould.

Remember to disconnect the hose and drain water from it too.

Know when to use the brush

Put the brush accessory on the steamer only if necessary.

The fabric brush is great for non-sensitive and thicker fabrics like wool or denim. It is typically used on clothing such as jackets, jumpers, coats, jeans and fabrics that are more likely to pill. The brush will concentrate the steam and remove fluff from these garments.

On the other hand, the brush should not be used on delicate, smooth fabrics like silk, satin or other shiny surfaces. The brush bristles would likely scratch, pull at or snag these smooth surfaces. If you are uncertain, it’s better to skip the brush.

how to steam silk with a steamer and why you should do it - steamer head
My portable steamer does not have a brush attachment. The plastic head is smooth and works great for silk’s delicate fibres.

Heat up your steamer before using it

It takes anywhere from 20 to 90 seconds, depending which steamer you use. My portable steamer only takes 30 seconds!

In general, the water in the steamer would either start boiling, or the steamer would start emitting vapour. Some garment steamers have indication lights that will light up or flash once it’s heated up and ready to use.

Skipping this step or not heating up the steamer sufficiently might result in the steamer spluttering large droplets of water and leaving wet spots on your silk pieces.

Keep your garment steamer’s hose straight

Keep your steamer’s hose kink-free, kinks block the pathway of the steam. You do not want a spluttering steamer.

Holding your garment steamer

Never hold your garment steamer horizontally, unless it is designed to perform that way. For handheld steamers, this may cause the hot water to spill out, resulting in burns. With standing steamers, condensation would be formed in the hose, blocking the flow of steam. The steamer might then steam intermittently or stop steaming all together.

Hold your steamers vertically or at a 45-degree angle unless it is designed to be used horizontally

How to use a clothes steamer on silk in 5 easy steps

This smoking contraception, be it a standing garment steamer or handheld steamer is not as daunting as it looks. Follow the steps below and you will be able to achieve effortless crease removal from your silk garments.

Heat up your steamer

Remember to fill it up with fresh water and give it sufficient time to heat up.

Hang your garment up to steam

You can hang it anywhere that is sturdy. The door frame, a hanging rack, if your steamer has a hanger attachment, use that! You’ll need both hands to steam properly, so holding it up with one hand isn’t a good idea

Wear garment steamer gloves (Optional)

When steam gets too close to your hand, it hurts! It doesn’t cause serious burns, but it still isn’t a comfortable experience. Garment steamer gloves are waterproof and insulated to protect your hands from hot steam.

It also allows you to place your gloved hand beneath the silk garment that you are steaming, which is very useful for small areas such as collars and cuffs.

how to steam silk with a steamer and why you should do it
Classic garment steamer gloves (Left) Baking gloves that I use – doubles as garment steamer gloves (Right).

My kitchen / baking gloves (Right) is made of silicon and does not cause colour transfer. I used it when I was new to steaming silk, in fact I still use it on and off!

Waterproof or silicon oven mitts may be an alternative, but do check that the colour from the oven mitts do not run and stain your silk garments

Hold the steamer nozzle (or head) to hover over the fabric.

Start by moving the steamer over the fabric. Most modern steamers today are safe to be in contact with most fabrics and do not result in burnt clothes. By touching the head of the garment steamer against your silk garment, it allows wrinkles to be removed more effectively.

how to steam silk with a steamer and why you should do it
Place the head of steamer against silk top

If you have an old steamer and you’re unsure if it is safe to do so, check the manufacture’s guide. Or, test it out on a small inconspicuous corner of your silk.

Steam top to bottom, with downward strokes

Steam systematically with downward strokes. Hold the end of the garment part which you are steaming with the other hand, keeping the fabric slightly taut. This makes it easier to smoothen out wrinkles.

After steaming

Hang the silk garment up and empty your water tank!

how to steam silk with a steamer and why you should do it
Remember to let the steamer cool down before opening it to empty the water tank.

Things to take note of while steaming silk garments:

How to steam silk garments with inner lining

Steam the lining first, then steam the outside of the item. This would ensure that the outside of the garment remains wrinkle free.

How to steam embellishments and prints

Steam the inside of the garment and hold your steamer 1-2 inches away. This prevents the hot steam from aging the embellishments and prints, keeping the garment looking newer for a longer period of time.

How to steam pleats and ruffles

For pleats, hold the fabric from the bottom edge and hold the pleat straight. Run the steamer over the pleat to keep the crease. Ruffles are easier, gently run or hover your steamer over the ruffles and the wrinkles will disappear slowly.

Best steps to steaming a silk garment

The most efficient way would be to start with the embellished areas first. Then steam the smaller segments such as straps, collars, cuffs and sleeves. You may then steam the inner lining followed by the rest of the silk garment, from top down.

Maintain a good posture while using a steamer

Hang your garment at a comfortable height for steaming. Adjust the height of your standing garment steamer, if you are using one. Keep yourself upright and save your back and knees.

Tips and mistakes to avoid when steaming silk

Garment steamers might be safer for your silks than irons are, but not for the user. Steam vapours from garment steamers are still dangerous and can cause burns!

  • Do not use your bare hand to hold the silk to support it while steaming, always use a steamers glove if you have to do that.
  • Never steam while wearing the silk garment
  • Wait for the steamer to be fully heated up before steaming or it will start emitting water droplets, which may cause water spots on your silk.
  • Steam on the inside of the silk garment for any embellishments.

Common questions on how to steam silk clothing, answered:

Can I steam silk dresses with a padded bodice

Start steaming the smaller sections of the silk dress, such as the straps, sleeves and collars. Once that is done, hover your steamer over the padded bodice. Hover, do press your steamer over the padded bodice, you do not want to flatten it.

The rest of the silk dress can be steamed from top to bottom.

How to steam a silk shirt or silk blouse?

Start with the smaller segments such as the collars, cuffs and sleeves. Press the areas against a firm surface or use your garment glove. Then, move on to the body of the silk shirt or blouse, steaming from top to bottom.

How to steam a silk scarf

Use hangers with padded clips to secure the silk scarf. Use a steamer glove to gently guide the back of the silk scarf while steaming. If you do not own a steamer glove, just use one hand to hold the scarf taut while you steam with the other hand.

How to steam a silk pocket square with hand rolled edges

A pocket square is like a small silk scarf, so follow the same steps as above! Take note not to clip the hand rolled edges though, the pressure from the clips coupled with hot steam may flatten the edges.

How to steam a silk pillowcase

Personally, after handwashing and drying my silk pillowcase, there is rarely a need to iron them. But if you have stored them for a while then you may want to give them a quick steam.

Follow the exact same steps to steaming a silk scarf above.

How to steam a silk tie

Undo the tie, use a hanger with padded clips to hold one end. Use steamer glove or hold the end of the tie taut, be careful not to scald your hand! Steam from top down.

How to steam a silk curtain

If you have washed the curtains, put hang back on the hanging rod. Proceed to steam from top to bottom.

Can I steam my wedding gown

Silk wedding gowns, or wedding gowns of any material are best left to the dry cleaners. Wedding gowns often have delicate and extravagant detailing on them that makes steaming tougher and not beginner friendly. The dry-cleaning professionals would have more experience handling gowns.

However, in times of emergency, it is possible to do a quick steam.

How to steam a silk wedding dress

Wedding dresses, wedding gowns are extremely delicate. Those made of silk are even more fragile. The steamer head should be held 6 inches away, to be extra safe. Steam from top to bottom, as the steamer is held much further away, you may have to do this process several times.

If the dress or gown has several layers, steam the from the inner most layer, outwards.

Complete guide to using a steamer to steam silk

Once you get the hang of steaming, you’ll notice that there is generally a fixed formula. Take for example, the silk pocket square, silk scarf and silk pillowcase, it is pretty much the same steps on different sizes of silk cloths.

If you are ever unsure, feel free to pop back in here and check out how specific silk items should be steamed!

Hopefully this would take away any phobias or confusion of using garment steamers to steam silk, be it to re-freshen them or to remove wrinkles. Although I have shared several ways to remove wrinkles from silk previously, garment steamers have definitely made my life a lot easier, so I do encourage you to give it a try too!