Silk is such a delicate fabric that many people are confused about the best ways to care for it. Whether used in robes, lingerie, shirts, ties, or bedding, silk unquestionably a luxurious fabric that allures people to touch it. The cultivation of silk dates back to 3500 BC, and began in Ancient China. The fibers for silk are produced by a tiny insect, the mulberry silkworm, and because of the small yield from each insect, the cost of silk is usually very high. Because of its high price and extreme delicacy, silk must be cared for properly to ensure that it doesn't get damaged in any way.
The first few times you wash a silk garment, do it by hand with a very mild detergent. This will protect the sheen of the fabric while also softening the silk a bit. Do not wring silk dry by hand. Instead, gather it up inside a large towel and gently press the water from the silk into the fibers of the towel.
After the silk has been through the wash several times, you can start to wash it in a machine. However, you must use only the most gentle cycle, lukewarm water, and a detergent that is mild (ideally biodegradable), or a detergent that has been specifically formulated for washing silk goods. Avoid bleach, as it is too harsh. Silk should always be washed separately from any other fabrics.
When in doubt, measure the temperature of the wash water with a probe thermometer. Water over the temperature of 86 degrees Fahrenheit is unacceptable for washing silk.
There are two options for drying silk goods. The first is simple air-drying, while attached to a clothesline or indoor clothes drying rack. The indoor rack is preferred for the longevity of the fabric. Alternatively, if you dryer has an "air only" setting that will not subject silk to too much heat, this can be used to more quickly dry this delicate fabric.
Because silk rarely gets wrinkled, ironing is really not needed. However, to give silk sheets a crisper look, you may want to use a cool iron on slightly damp sheets, ironing only on the non-shiny side of the sheet.
Removing Stains from Silk
Removing stains from silk can be tricky, since the fabric is so delicate. Taking the item to your dry cleaner is usually your best bet. However, the sooner you can treat a stain, the better your chances for removing it completely. Work quickly, and apply a product like Silk Spot Out immediately to the stained area. This product is specially formulated for removing silk stains, so it is your best bet.
Silk does not wrinkle easily, so you do not have to store it on a hanger in a closet. However, a closet or dresser drawer is a good place to store silk, as any sunny room may put the fabric at risk for fading. If moths are a concern, store silks in a plastic storage box in a cool, dry part of your home.