There’s something about wearing silk that says, “I’ve got my life together”. It’s luxurious, refined, and makes you feel special in a way that polyester simply isn’t capable of.
Inevitably though, your refined, luxurious self will eventually drop a canapé on that silk top/skirt/pants/jacket or fall foul to a tight-hugging friend’s make-up, leaving you with the question women have asked themselves for generations: why am I putting my dry cleaner’s children through private school? (Because, when you’ve paid a fortune for a beautiful piece of clothing, you’d rather leave the job of cleaning it to the professionals, right?)
Despite everything you’ve read, heard and assumed of silk, it doesn’t necessarily need to be dry cleaned. You can wash your own silk pieces – it simply takes some specific know-how. You’re going to need a deep bucket or basin, filled with cold water…
STEP ONE Add a small amount of gentle detergent (baby’s clothes detergent works well).
STEP TWO Put your silk piece in and let it sit for a few minutes, and then swish it around the bucket/basin. This will let the detergent get to work without you rubbing it in. Don’t let it soak too long, as this can unsettle colours.
STEP THREE Pull your piece out of the water, letting the excess run off (don’t wring or twist the piece as you may break the threads or warp the garment’s shape).
STEP FOUR Lie your wet silk piece flat on a bath towel, roll them up and leave them to sit for two hours. This will draw out much of the moisture. If you have a shaded outdoor area, this is ideal. Unwrap your silk and lay it flat in the shade, keeping a watchful eye to make sure the shade doesn’t disappear. If you don’t have an outdoor area, a dining table works just as well.
FOR Tougher cases
Stain didn’t come out? For stubborn stains, such as red wine, bolognese or blood, you may need to up the ante on your cleaning products. Mix cold water with a good handful of table salt and follow the same process as above.
latte down your front? Swap out the table salt for a large dash of white vinegar.
A word of warning though. Before you plunge your prized silk into a bucket of water, be sure of what kind of silk you’re dealing with. Raw dupioni silk doesn’t like water as it diminishes the fabric’s sheen. Washing is also a no-no for silk taffeta, as water will actually stain this fabric. If you’ve managed to dirty these silk variations, we’re sorry to say your safest bet will be to call in the big guns: an experienced dry cleaner.
TIP: Care instructions on some silk pieces will suggest they’re machine washable. We advise against this. Handwashing is much better for looking after the delicate fibres.