Clothing Care // How to Wash & Dry Silk Items at Home

how to clean silk fragrance free detergent laundress delicates wash

Do you love the luxe feeling of silk pieces, but cringe thinking about dry cleaning costs? This was my debate, until I realized just how easy it is to wash them myself! After hearing your feedback in this post on silk blouses, I wanted to share some do’s & don’ts when it comes to cleaning silk at home. And if hand washing clothes in the sink isn’t your idea of weekend fun, the good news is I usually machine wash my delicates. The garment tags may say dry clean only, but I haven’t had any issues yet washing solid colored silk myself (just use your judgement, though)! 


Hand wash your silk item by itself the first time to see if the color bleeds. If the color doesn’t run, then it should be safe to machine wash on the delicates cycle next time. If the color does run, you’d need to machine wash with very similar colors or continue hand washing in the future.


Use cool water to prevent the fabric from fading in color, and to reduce wrinkling. 


Instead of regular detergent, use just a little bit of gentle cleanser formulated for delicates. I love:


Hand wash your silk item then rinse in a sink or basin with cold water to remove any excess detergent. Avoid soaking colored fabrics too long in order to maintain color.

Machine Washing:

If you’ve already done a test run previously (see above), place your silk item in a mesh laundry bag prior to putting it in the machine. I own several of these mesh wash bags and love the durability and generous size! As an extra precaution, I also turn my items inside out. Wash in cold water on the delicates cycle with other lightweight pieces (avoid washing with heavy items like jeans, towels etc.)


Do NOT machine dry. If hand washing, gently wring the item then roll it up in a towel and lightly squeeze to remove excess water. For both hand and machine washed silk, you can:

  • Lay flat on a towel to dry.
  • Lay flat on a mesh rack to dry. I’ve been using this mesh sweater drying rack for years and love that it’s foldable for a small space, and sits right over my bathtub! 
  • Hang dry. See all 3 options pictured below! 

how to wash a silk pillowcase or top dress

best travel garment steamer mesh drying rack for silk and delicates

how to clean and dry a silk pillowcase or dress top

Things to avoid:
  • No bleach! Even detergent with traces of bleach can destroy natural fibers and harm silk materials.
  • Never put silk in the dryer. The machine dryer can be super damaging in general for delicate fabrics.

Hopefully this post was useful and helps reducing your dry cleaning bills! I’m still learning about garment care so would love to hear any tips or recommendations you guys have for cleaning delicates. Also, stay tuned for an upcoming post comparing some of my favorite silk pillowcases!

garment care how to wash and dry silk at home

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  1. Melissa wrote:

    I found this tip many years ago in a Martha Stewart Clotheskeeping special issue…use Johnson’s baby shampoo for delicates especially cashmere and silk. Been doing this for years! Thanks Jean for all your useful info!

    Posted 7.1.19 Reply
  2. Matthew Smith wrote:

    I always gave these silk items out in the laundry but now its was slowly getting hectic for me. Having come across this article ,I was really impressed with the process that I adopted in my daily household.The Nordstorm Delicate wash is a good choice. The most effective tip from this blog never to put silk in dryer.

    Posted 6.21.19 Reply
  3. Liz kim wrote:

    Hello! Have you found that washing crinkles up the silk, and even though you steam/iron after, the seams pucker and the garment is not the same? I’ve had that happen so many times…

    Posted 6.20.19 Reply
  4. Mary wrote:

    Thanks Jean. I love these clothing care tutorials:).

    Posted 6.20.19 Reply
    • Amanda Bischoff wrote:

      Hi Jean! Just found your post! I was searching how to hand wash my Everlane clean silk body shirt. I put it on for the first time last night and got deodorant on the front. So sad! My husband hand washed it in the sink and most of the stain is gone but not all of it. Also we air dried it and it’s not as soft as it was! Any tips? Thanks!

      Posted 8.25.19 Reply
  5. Oona wrote:

    So helpful! I know some dry cleaning companies are making an effort to use less toxic materials, but it’s lovely not to have to worry about exposure to any aroma stronger than lavender after cleaning a favorite blouse.

    Posted 6.19.19 Reply
  6. Kristin wrote:

    Thank you so much for putting this together, Jean! Much appreciated. Xoxo

    Posted 6.19.19 Reply
  7. Briana wrote:

    I definitely needed to see this!


    Posted 6.18.19 Reply
  8. Rachel wrote:

    Love this post! Thank you for the tips, Jean. Do you always use the travel steamer or do you have a regular steamer that you can recommend?

    I’m in a small condo so space is a factor!

    Posted 6.18.19 Reply
  9. Thank you so much for sharing these great tips! I’ve always been confused about how to take care of my silk fabrics! <3 🙂 Really appreciated this post!

    XO, Elizabeth T.
    B L O G | Y O U T U B E | I N S T A G R A M

    Posted 6.18.19 Reply
  10. Roses for Fridays | by mia wrote:

    Merci for this wonderful tip!

    Posted 6.18.19 Reply
  11. So useful! I never dare to wash my own silk pieces at home. Will definitely keep your tips in mind next time! 💕✨

    Posted 6.18.19 Reply
  12. Mireia wrote:

    This is so important! Thanks for sharing!

    Posted 6.18.19 Reply
  13. Rena wrote:

    Your tips are super helpful. Thanks for sharing.
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

    Posted 6.18.19 Reply
  14. Janine wrote:

    Oh this was super helpful! Thanks for being so detailed and thorough as well.
    xx Janine

    Posted 6.18.19 Reply
  15. Amanda K. wrote:

    Thanks for the tutorial, Jean – easy and simple to follow along 🙂 I’ll definitely try it out hand washing first with the only (unused) silk pillow case I have right now and eventually machine washing once I have a bundle of silk items.

    My interest in silk pillow cases is actually only a few months old since I was concerned about my hair and in improving the quality of my sleep, and although I’ve looked at a few brands before settling on an Amazon’s choice, I look forward to what you’ve tried and liked the most.

    Posted 6.18.19 Reply
    • Jean Strong wrote:

      Hi Jean,I’m obsessed with your blog and your classic style. You wear it so well!

      I’ve been looking to buy a steamer for a while and was glad to see your recommendation, but do you know of one that would be suitable for overseas?

      Posted 6.18.19 Reply

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