Wash, iron and care for silk pillowcases easily at home

Wash, iron and care for silk pillowcases easily at home

I gifted a set of silk pillowcases to my friend previously after experiencing the benefits of sleeping on a silk pillowcase. I have shared my experience of using silk pillowcases (Here), if you are interested.

My friend mentioned that she wished silk pieces came with explicit ‘how to care and wash’ instructions. So, I am here today to provide these instructions, complete with pictures!

Why use a silk pillowcase

There are many hair and skin benefits to using a silk pillowcase, from stronger hair with lesser split ends to hydrated skin with lesser creases. I have a separated detailed post on it [Link here] if you want to know all about the benefits of sleeping on a silk pillowcase

13 hair and skin benefits of sleeping with silk pillowcase

Can you wash silk pillowcases?

A really common question, most people think that silk can only be dry cleaned which is not the case. In fact, silk pillowcases can be machine washed at 30 degrees Celsius, or lower. I am just really protective of all my silks and would prefer to hand wash it.

I will share instructions for both handwashing and machine washing your silk pillowcases later in this post. It is similar to instructions to handwashing and machine washing silk shirts with the main difference being, silk pillowcases are more durable and can withstand machine washing.

How often to wash a silk pillowcase?

Pillowcases in general should be washed anywhere from once a fortnight to twice a week, depending on how sensitive your skin is and how clean your hair is.

Our hair holds a surprising amount of dirt. There is oil from our scalp, dust and particles from the air and hair products you may be using. All these are transferred on to your pillowcase then on to your face. Can you imagine the amount of damage it can do to your skin?

If you do not wash your hair daily, then you might want to wash your silk pillowcase once to twice a week. You may even want to consider changing your pillowcase daily to keep your skin clean.

I am quite the germaphobe, I wash my hair daily and I do not get into bed unless I have taken a shower. My pillowcase and bedsheets are pretty clean but I still change my pillowcase about 2-3 times in a month.

Should I wash my silk pillowcase before I use it

It is very much a personal preference. Although brand new silk pillowcases are generally wrinkle free, smell good and are safe to use; I would still wash them before using it.

It can be argued that each wash shortens the durability and lifespan of your silk pillowcases, and that washing it less frequently is better for the environment. But I cannot get over the psychological barrier of sleeping on unwashed sheets and pillowcases!

So, it is entirely your choice. It is safe to sleep on but go ahead and wash them if you want to.

why should you use a silk pillowcase, is it worth it
I can’t imagine using my silk pillowcases before washing it, but that’s just me. You do you!

How to wash silk pillowcase without detergent

In a pinch, there are a few options, such as shampoo or dish soap (which I will touch on below). Ensure that both of these are free of harsh chemicals. In the long run though, delicate wash is still the best option to keep your silk pillowcases’ shine and softness.

Can I wash silk with shampoo

If your shampoo is gentle, sulphate free – like baby shampoo, it is generally safe. I would usually reach for a delicate detergent as my first choice as I find that shampoo seems to leave my silk pieces feeling a bit less smooth and a tad drier. A good steam with a steamer or steam iron reverses that though!

Can I use dish soap to wash silk pillowcases?

Only do so if your dish soap is free of any harsh chemicals. If your dish soap is plant based, you are good to go. However, similar to using shampoo, it does leave your silk feeling a bit more crisp and less smooth.

Can I wash silk pillowcases with vinegar

A diluted vinegar bath is ideal for removing the soapy residue after washing your silks. To dilute, use one part vinegar to 4 parts water. A vinegar bath helps maintain shine and luster from our silk pillowcases too. However, as a standalone cleaning agent, it isn’t as efficient.

What Products to Avoid When Caring for Silk

Wash, iron and care for silk pillowcases easily at home
No to bleach, harsh detergents any anything that is harmful to delicate silk fibres

Besides harsh detergent, you should avoid using bleach and fabric softeners not meant for silks as they may discolour or damage the silk fibres. When in doubt, check the product’s label to ensure that it is safe for silks, that will never go wrong.

How to hand wash a silk pillowcase (11 steps with pictures)

  1. Fill a basin or tub with cool water, avoid hot water as it may stretch and damage the silk fibers.
  2. Add gentle or delicates detergent to the water. I use 1 tablespoon of gentle detergent for a basin full of water and 2 silk pillowcases.
  3. Agitate the soapy water until bubbles form
  4. If you have any stubborn stains, spot wash or spot treat (Link: how to remove stains from silk) For specific stains, try this (Link).
  5. Submerge, Swish and stir your silk pillowcase gently to dislodge any dirt
  6. Fully submerge and soak your silk pillowcase for 3-5 mins
  7. Pour the water away and rinse your silk pillowcase of all soap, until the water runs clear
  8. (Optional) Fill the basin with cool water again and add some delicates conditioner or softener, let the silk pillowcase soak for 3 mins. Then, rinse off.
  9. If you do not like the feeling of soapy residue left by the gentle detergent or softener, you can add one-fourth cup distilled white vinegar to the rinse water. The vinegar removes soapy residue from the silk fibres and keeps it smooth.
  10. Squeeze dry your silk pillowcases. Avoid twisting or wringing. Silk fabric is strong when it’s dry, but much weaker when fibers are wet.
  11. Roll up in a towel, line dry or lay flat to dry. (More details in how to dry your silk pillowcase below)
Wash, iron and care for silk pillowcases easily at home
Follow the numbered steps above, the pictures are a guide if you are not too sure how it should look like

What happens if you put silk pillowcase in the washing machine?

If you are curious, I have an entire post dedicated to what happens when silk goes into the washing machine.

Most silk pillowcases are quite hardy and can be machine washed. In saying that, avoid machine washing any silk pillowcases under 19mm.

Momme (mm) is the weight and quality indicator of silk fabric (Link). Silk pillowcases under 19mm is more delicate and may be damaged in the washing machine, even with a laundry bag.

How to machine wash a silk pillowcase (8 steps with pictures)

  1. Check your silk pillowcase for any stains, if there are any, spot wash or spot treat them before the steps below. (Link: how to remove stains from silk) For specific stains, try this (Link).
  2. Place your silk pillowcases in a mesh laundry bag to protect it from zippers, hook, loop fasteners or any anything else that might snag or tear it.
  3. Ensure that you are washing your silk pillowcases with similar colours to prevent colour bleeding.
  4. Pour in an appropriate amount of delicates detergent, check the packaging for the recommended amount to use.
  5. (Optional) If your washing machine has a space or slot for fabric softener, you can either add silk conditioner or one-half cup to one cup of vinegar in it. It will help soften and maintain the lustre of your silk pillowcase.
  6. Select the a cold and gentle wash cycle. If you have a ‘delicates’ wash cycle, use that. The temperature should be below 30 °C / 86°F as anything higher might result in shrinkage of the silk pillowcase.
  7. Start the wash cycle!
  8. Once it is done, roll it up in a towel, line dry or lay flat to dry. (More details in how to dry your silk pillowcase)
Wash, iron and care for silk pillowcases easily at home
You can chose to you padded (the penguins) or non padded laundry bags, does not make a big difference. Just remember to wash with like colours.

3 safe ways to dry your silk pillow case

First step to drying your silk pillowcase is to squeeze out any excess water so it is not soaking wet, remember not to wring it! After which, you have 3 options.

Wash, iron and care for silk pillowcases easily at home
Option 1. I use a clean fluffy white towel to roll up my silk pillowcase and squeeze it lightly to allow the absorption of excess water
  1. Roll up your silk pillowcase in a clean towel and squeeze it to absorb the remaining water, then lay flat or hang it up to dry.
  2. Skip the towel, simply lay flat on a surface, or rack to dry.
  3. If the silk pillowcase is relatively dry, you may also hang and air dry using a plastic hanger. Avoid wooden hangers as wood may stain silk clothing.
Wash, iron and care for silk pillowcases easily at home
You can also hang your silk pillowcase to dry instead. If the silk pillowcase is not too wet, you can either hang it directly on a rack or use a plastic hanger, or you could lay it flat too.

For all 3 methods, it is important to dry your silk pillowcase out of direct sunlight! Direct sunlight may cause the silk’s colour to fade and silk fibres to be damaged.

Can I use a dryer for my silk pillowcase

It is best to avoid dryers as silk shrinks at high temperatures. Also, the tumbling in the dryer may snag or tear the silk pillowcases as well.

But if you are in a hurry, or the weather is simply too wet and damp, tumble dry your silk pillowcases on its own without any fabric sheets or dryer balls. It is also recommended to use the lowest heat setting of your dryer, some dryers may have a ‘cool’ or ‘air’ setting which would be more suitable.

Remember to check in 5 – 10 minutes and to remove your silk pillowcases before it is completely dry. Then, finish off by air drying your silk pillowcases.

What is the best way to store silk pillowcases

Wash, iron and care for silk pillowcases easily at home
My silk pillowcases are on heavy rotation, so I roll or fold up my silk pillowcase loosely and store it in this bag (not airtight) before keeping it to prevent any accidental snags.

If you use your silk pillowcases frequently, store it in a cool, dry area that is easily accessible. For long term storage, place them in airtight containers or plastic bags with moth repellents or cedar balls.

Wash, iron and care for silk pillowcases easily at home
I fold or roll my silk pillowcases loosely to avoid forming creases and lines.

For both storage methods, create soft folds or roll the pillowcase up. It is important to not fold and flatten your silk pillowcase as it will form lines and creases on the silk pillowcase, in the long run it may also weaken the silk fibres. For the same reason, do not stack heavy items on your silks!

How to remove wrinkles and creases from silk pillowcase

If you have stored your silk pillowcases for a while, there will be creases. I have noticed that the wrinkles and creases usually go away after a few night’s of use. But if it bothers you, you can steam iron your silk pillowcases inside out, at the lowest temperature setting. If you have a garment steamer, you may opt to steam your silks instead. Both a handheld or garment steamer will do the job well, if you are unsure which to use read here.

Sleep, wash, care (Repeat) to enjoy your silk pillowcase

This is a complete and comprehensive guide to washing, ironing and caring for your silk pillowcase. There are links throughout this article for other silk topics as well. Let me know if there is anything else you would like to find out about caring for your silk pillowcase.

With this, enjoy your silk pillowcases!