How to Clean and Care for a Silk Pillowcase

silk pillowcases

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 2 hrs
  • Skill Level: Intermediate

Beauty sleep is a real thing, and doing it on a silk pillowcase is one of the best ways to maintain healthy hair and a beautiful complexion. Plus, anyone with curls can tell you this is their best-kept secret: The shiny texture keeps ringlets from tangling and hair from drying out! Here's how to clean and care for your silk pillowcase.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Washer or sink
  • Mesh laundry bag (optional)
  • Drying rack
  • Iron

Materials

  • Cold water
  • Gentle detergent
  • Distilled white vinegar

Instructions

How to Wash a Silk Pillowcase
Detergent Gentle
Water Temperature Cold
Cycle Type Gentle, or hand-wash
Drying Cycle  Air-dry
Special Treatments Wash in a mesh bag
Iron Settings Coolest setting

How Often to Wash Silk Pillowcases

Sleep can be a dirty business. Every skincare product you use and the soil on your face and hair are transferred to your pillowcase. Even if you shower before bed, you should still wash your pillowcase weekly. More frequent washing should be done if you have problems with acne or other skin conditions, or if you are suffering from a cold or another virus. Having extra pillowcases on hand is a great idea for busy weeks when laundry days can get delayed.

materials for washing a silk pillowcase
The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Instructions

  1. Choose Between Hand-Washing and Machine-Washing

    Silk can either be washed by hand or in the washer. If you decide on using the washer, use the gentle cycle, and place the silk pillowcase in a mesh laundry bag. This will protect it from snags from zippers, hook and loop fasteners, or rough spots in the machine.

    When hand-washing, go for a gentle touch with no twisting or wringing. Silk fabric is strong when it's dry, but much weaker when fibers are wet.

    hand-washing a silk pillowcase

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  2. Use a Gentle Detergent

    Some detergents are simply too harsh for silk and will leave it feeling rough and scratchy. Choose a gentle detergent, like a wool wash, that can clean well but protect the fibers.

    For hand-washing, use about one teaspoon per sink basin. In the washer, two tablespoons to one-fourth cup should be used depending on the size of the laundry load.

    filling the sink with water and detergent

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  3. Pretreat Stains

    You may find makeup or bodily fluids on your silk pillowcase, so always check for stains before you toss it in the washer or hand-wash. Simply work a tiny dab of the detergent into the stained area with your fingers. Let the detergent work on the area for at least 15 minutes before washing. This will give it time to break apart the stain molecules. Then wash as usual.

    Tip

    Skip the chlorine bleach. This chemical can be very harmful to silk and will permanently damage the fibers. Silk can actually dissolve in chlorine bleach. Try to also avoid stain removers that may contain bleach. If used, you'll see yellowing and breakage of fibers.

    pre-treating stains on a silk pillowcase

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  4. Use Cold Water

    Cold water is the best choice for washing silk. Hot water can distort the fibers.

    using cold water to wash a pillowcase

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  5. Add Vinegar to the Rinse Cycle

    Whether you are hand-washing or using the washer, always add some distilled white vinegar to the rinse water. The vinegar will help remove any soapy residue in the silk fibers and leave it silky smooth.

    For hand-washing, use about one-fourth cup in the rinse water. In your washer, add one-half cup to one cup of vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser depending on the size of the load.

    adding vinegar to the rinse

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  6. Avoid a Hot Dryer

    Silk and high temperatures are not compatible. The best way to dry your pillowcase is on a drying rack, away from direct heat sources and sunlight. If you are in a hurry, tumble dry on the lowest heat setting of your dryer, and remove the pillowcase while still slightly damp. Let it finish by air-drying.

    line-drying a silk pillowcase

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Storing Silk Pillowcases

When storing silk pillowcases, never fold into a tight square with sharp creases. This can weaken fibers. Create a soft fold or roll the pillowcase before placing it on a shelf where it will not be crushed.

Ironing

If you feel your pillowcase is overly wrinkled, it can be ironed on the lowest temperature setting on your iron. Always use a pressing cloth or a clean, white cotton cloth between the iron and the silk to prevent scorching. Burned fibers cannot be restored. Always iron flat, and never press in sharp creases.

What Are the Benefits of Silk Pillowcases?

Silk is a natural fiber produced by silkworms that feed on mulberry leaves and then spin a cocoon made of long, lustrous fibers. The cocoons are boiled in water to release the fibers that are then spun into thread for weaving. Silk fabrics are strong, resilient to wrinkling, absorbent, hypoallergenic, and can be woven to a smooth finish. Those qualities make silk fabrics perfect for bedding.

  • As a natural fiber, there are fewer chemicals involved in the production of the fabric than man-made fabrics like microfiber, which is made from petroleum-based materials.
  • Silk fibers help the skin retain moisture, which can help prevent dryness.
  • The smooth finish of silk helps reduce hair breakage and tangling.
Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. 12 Tips to Combat Acne. Rush University Medical Center.