Can silk be machine washed

Can silk be machine washed

Silk can be machine washed.

However a more apt question would be; SHOULD you machine wash silk?

Or maybe, for some of you, the question is, how do I safely machine wash silk pieces?

which leads us to the next question

What happens if you put silk in the washing machine?

Firstly, why would you do that!

I know I just said that silk can be machine washed, but personally, I’ll never do it. Not even if the silk garment says hand wash safe. I’ll be absolutely devastated if it’s ruined in the wash.

But I’m a tad paranoid.

With technological advancements, a gentler wash cycle, it is possible to machine wash silk pieces. Not what I’m advising, but if must, then do take some precautions.

Precautions for machine washing silk

Some of these precautious are similar to those for handwashing but its still worth reading through to make sure you don’t miss anything!

Appropriate washing machine settings

  • Set it to the gentlest cold water cycle and slowest spin setting.
  • If you have a delicates wash cycle setting, use it!
  • If possible, avoid spin drying
  • Under no circumstances should you put it in the dryer
  • Do not, I repeat, DO NOT tumble dry.

Use gentle washing detergent

  • Similar to handwashing, always use a gentle washing detergent specifically designed for washing wools, silks or delicate fabrics. Avoid using any other types of detergent which may shrink or damage the silk fibres.

Sort your laundry by colours

  • Group and wash your silk pieces with like colours.
  • Please don’t be weird and wash a single white silk garment with a bunch of black ones
  • Don’t wash any silk garments with heavy pieces of clothing like jeans, that’s just abuse!
  • Pop your silk pieces into mesh bags or laundry bags for extra protection.

Test for colourfastness

  • Silk, fades, sometimes the colour of silk garments bleeds and may stain other clothing. Hence, always test new silk pieces or colourfastness before washing.
  • If it’s a solid coloured garment, you can opt to put it in a basin of cool water and check if the colour runs. if it does, wash it on its own or with like coloured items.
  • If its patterned or muti-coloured, use a damp clean cloth or damp Q-tip, dap at an inconspicuous area. If a patterned piece bleeds, you may want to bring it to the dry cleaners, else the entire silk piece might be ruined when the colour runs.

Consider handwashing

I mean, can’t you tell I’m not a fan of machine-washing silk? Ha!

Here’s a sneaky link back to handwashing silk. [Here]

If you insist on machine washing then well, read on!

How to Machine Wash a Silk Shirt : Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Check for colourfastness of the silk pieces if its your first time washing them.
  2. Pre-treat any stains (link here!).
  3. Sort laundry, wash like colours together.
  4. Put silk pieces into laundry bags or mesh bags.
  5. Select the appropriate settings for delicate wash, lowest temperature, gentlest cycle, slowest speed.
  6. Pour in an appropriate amount of gentle detergent.
  7. Start the cycle.
  8. Pray for the best, kidding!
  9. Avoid the spin dry cycle if possible, if the silk has a lot of excess water, gently squeeze it out. Do not wring!
  10. Once it’s done washing, either use a towel to soak up the remaining water or lay flat to dry.
How to handwash a silk shirt
Roll up the silk shirt in a clean towel
How to handwash a silk shirt
Remember to press the towel as you roll to squeeze the excess water out
How to handwash a silk shirt
Lay flat on a drying rack, try to smoothen out the fabric to reduce wrinkles. I left mine all scrunched up for another post!
  1. If space is an issue or if the silk garment is relatively dry, you may also hang and air dry using a plastic hanger. Avoid wooden hangers as wood may stain silk clothing.
  2. Hang out of direct sunlight! Direct sunlight may cause the silk’s colour to fade and the garment to be damaged.

Additional note!

Do not tumble dry!

The heat will cause the delicate silk fibres to shrink and may cause the silk piece to become ‘brittle’ and tear damaging it.

What happens if you put silk in the washing machine?

Back to the original question.

Assuming you did not follow any of the advice or steps above, it would really depend on your wash setting and what you’ve washed it with. The silk garment may get tangled and stretched out of shape, or torn. If washed with hot or warm water and then tumbled dry, it’ll likely shrink. Either ways, chances of it being ruined is pretty high.

If you’re lucky and the silk garment is not torn, you can try ‘unshrinking’ and salvaging it.

How to unshrink silk?

Fill basin with conditioner and water

  • Fill a basin with lukewarm water, add a tablespoon of conditioner for every quart of water.
    • For easy approximate conversion,1 quart = 1000ml = 4 cups = 32 oz = 2 pints.
    • That’s all the conversion I can think of!
  • The conditioner will help soften and relax the silk fibres

Soak the silk fabric

  • Allow the garment to soak for 30 mins – 1 hour.

Squeeze wet silk fabric

  • Remove the garment, squeeze the excess water out.
  • Do not wring or rinse!
  • Allow the conditioner to remain on the silk garment to continue to relax the fibres

Remove excess water

  • Roll the silk garment in a towel.
  • Let it sit for about 10-15 mins so that its still slightly damp
Stretch out silk fabric gently
  • Use a fresh dry towel, spread the silk garment on top.
  • Slowly tug the garment evenly at all areas, stretching it out proportionally.
  • Once you reach a satisfactory shape and size, hold the edges of the garment in place with something heavy.
  • Its easier to stretch and hold down in sections.
  • Keep the garment held down until the clothes completely air dry.

Wear it

  • When dried, feel free to wear it.
  • If you’re like me and you feel icky about it or if the texture feels odd, hand wash it or rinse it with water and allow it to air dry this time.

These steps should help unshrink the silk garment slightly. But it is unlikely it will go back completely to its original size,

Be nice to your silk pieces!

Prevention is better than cure!

Which is why I’ll always advise handwashing your silk garments!

Here’s me trying to convince you to handwash again. It isn’t that tough!

Case in point; read here!