How To Wash Your Silk Tops At Home

September 19, 2014 by Justine Schwartz
shefinds | Style

Fall means spending more on your dry cleaning bill, amirite? Between wool sweaters that can’t be machine washed to the silk tops that read “dry clean only,” it seems like everything you wear in fall costs money to clean. It gets expensive fast! In an effort to save some dollars where we can, we found a way to hand-wash silk tops so you’ll *rarely* have to send them out. (It might be a good idea to get them professionally cleaned once a season just so they’ll last longer.) Here’s everything you need to know about doing it:

Ignore the labels. The labels on most silk blouses and tops read “dry clean only,” when in fact they can be hand-washed. As blogger KT Campbell points out, silk is a natural fiber and if the garment is 100% silk you should be able to hand wash it. This may sound obvious, but if the fabric was pre-shrunk you don’t have to worry about it shrinking during the hand-washing process.

Products to use: You will use a gentle soap like Ivory or soap flakes if you can find them. White distilled vinegar is used for the second wash to remove the soap residue, eliminate dinginess and correct yellowing of the fabric. You can also use plain ammonia if there are stains that need removing.

Products to never use: Never use bleach on silk because it will burn the fabric.

Be gentle. The water should be warm not hot, there should be soap bubbles but it should not be overly soapy and you should be sure to wash thoroughly, but never rub the fabric excessively. After washing, rinse out the soap in tepid water and never wring the garment dry. To remove the soap residue, fill the bin, sink or basin up again with warm water and add 1/4 cup of distilled white vinegar and swish the garment around.

Roll not wring. After the garment has been washed in the vinegar, rinsed and removed from the tub, place it inside a towel and twist the towel up to absorb excess water. Do not simply wring the garment in your hands–always wrap it in a towel first. After you’ve removed some of the excess water, unwrap the towel and prepare the ironing board.

Iron wet. Wet silk left in the air will dry yellow (!) so always iron silk while it is damp. (If it gets too dry while you are preparing the iron, use a wet rag or towel to dampen in). Set the iron to Medium and begin ironing. Don’t run the iron over the edge of the garment or it will leave a mark. Good luck! 

[KT Campbell]


Editorial Director

Justine Schwartz is a veteran women's lifestyle editor; she's written extensively about style & beauty tips, health advice and wedding planning for more than a decade. Her work has appeared in New York Magazine, Huffington Post and New York Weddings. Justine has been with SheFinds since 2010; you can reach her via email at [email protected]

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