How to Wash Silk by Hand or Using Laundry Machine


January 9, 2024

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Silk is arguably the best fabric owing to its lustre, shine, durability, and soft feel. It's suitable for making sheets and pillowcases. This use is because silk is naturally hypoallergenic, non-irritating, and mould or dust-mite resistant. But you must wash the silk pillowcases and silk sheets regularly for the best results.

Unfortunately, the washing requires caution due to the fabric's delicate nature. One mistake, such as using the wrong detergent, can harden the material rendering it unusable. So, how should you do it? 

Here is an easy-to-follow stepwise guide for washing silk using a laundry machine or by hand. But, firstly, let's check the basics.

The Basics of Washing Silk Pillowcases and Silk Sheets

Always read the silk items' care labels before washing to ensure you understand the instructions. Some basics include never washing silk with strong bleach such as chlorine, damaging the natural fibre. Instead, it would help if you used non-biological detergent purposefully designed for washing silk. In addition, the rich colours of silk can bleed hence the need to test for colour fastness before washing.

To do so, you will dip a cotton swab in a solution of water, and mild detergent, then dab it on a hidden part of the item to determine if the dye stains the swab. Alternatively, you can directly wipe a hidden part in warm water to determine if it bleeds. It would be best to dry clean it if it bleeds. However, note that the material will eventually fade with time, so your work is to lessen the discolouring.

Another basic thing is that you should never dye silk pillowcases and sheets in direct sunlight since prolonged exposure causes fading. In addition, never tumble dry these silk items as they will shrink. For best outcomes, always divide your laundry according to material and colour.

Related: Check out our best silk pillowcases in Australia.

How to Wash Silk

You can wash silk pillowcases and sheets using a machine or by hand. However, each has different steps to clean the silk items well without damaging them. The steps are as follows:

Using Washing Machine

Step 1: Check the Fabric Care Label

To start, you will read the fabric care label to determine whether the silk item is using the washing machine. This step is essential because the silk can snag or tear when you wash it in a machine. The instructions will also guide you in the right setting to use once you start washing.

Step 2: Divide the Laundry

It's essential to divide your laundry, especially when you have silk bedding and other clothing. Some heavy pieces of clothing, such as jeans, risk causing abrasive damage to your silk items. Furthermore, you risk damaging other clothing if the silk items fade.

Step 3: Put the Silk Pillowcases, Sheets, and Clothing in a Fine Mesh Bag

In this step, you will put your silk clothing and other items in a mesh bag. The bag should be made from premium fine woven polyester micro mesh. Other reliable materials for this mesh bag include nylon, canvas, or cotton. Putting the silk item in this bag will keep them safe through the washing cycle.

Step 4: Add Mild Detergent

There is a specific type of detergent that you will add in this step because the wrong detergent can harden the fabric. It would be best if you were careful with the silk detergent you use because some are marketed as such but end up damaging your fine silk.

Knowing the right one will help if you read reviews of past customers on the stores' official pages. Ensure that you follow the dosing instructions when adding the detergent.

Step 5: Start a Delicate Cycle

This step also requires keenness as it will determine the outcome. It would help if you used a washing machine that has a delicate wash option. Regarding settings, you should set it at a low heat of 30°C and start a gentle wash cycle. While at it, choose the shortest spin cycle and don't wash them for longer than 30 minutes.

Step 6: Use a Dry Towel to Soak Excess Water After Washing, Then Dry.

After you are done, using a dry towel to soak up extra water would be best. You will then dry the item by hanging or laying it to dry. Note that this shouldn't be in direct sunlight, and you should use a dryer.

By Hand

Here are the steps to wash by hand:

Step 1: Preparation

You will start by filling a basin with lukewarm to cold water, putting the silk pillowcases and sheets, and then adding your mild detergent. Note that you should stir the solution for it to mix well. After you are done, soak the silk items for some time.

Step 2: Washing

To wash the silk items, gently plunge them in the solution, then rinse with cold water, and you should repeat the rinsing process until the water is clear.

Step 3: Absorbing Water and Drying

Like when using a laundry machine, you will absorb excess water in the silk pillowcases and silk sheets using a dry towel and then dry them appropriately.

How to Remove Stubborn Stains from Silk Pillowcases and Sheets

You are likely to get stubborn stains on the silk bedding. But unlike other fabrics, you can use abrasive stain removers. Instead, you should use a homemade gentle stain remover of lemon juice, white vinegar, and lukewarm water. Alternatively, you can use baking side, talc powder, or cornstarch, especially if the stain is oil-based.


It's safe to say silk is the best fabric for making bedding linen like sheets and pillowcases. However, you should clean them after a few days for hygiene. But unlike other fabrics, silk requires caution to maintain its soft texture and avoid shrinking. 

This guide gives you the right steps to follow when washing either using the washing machine or by hand. Use it and ensure you get clean silk pillowcases and silk sheets without damaging or discolouring them.