How to Wash a Silk Pillowcase

Peach colored bedding in a light filled room

Liana Mikah / Unsplash

Beauty sleep is a real thing. We all need deep, restful sleep to maintain good health and refresh our bodies. One of the best tools for maintaining shiny hair and a healthy complexion after a night's sleep is a silk pillowcase.

What Are the Benefits of a Silk Pillowcase?

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 slippery, 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 made from petroleum-based materials.
  • Silk fibers help the skin retain moisture. Because of the smoothness of the fabric, there is less friction against the skin, which reduces inflammation and wrinkles.
  • The fabric's hypoallergenic properties make it resistant to dust mites, fungus, and other allergens.
  • The smooth finish of silk helps reduce hair breakage and tangling.
How to Wash a Silk Pillowcase
Detergent Gentle detergent
Water Temperature Cold
Cycle Type Gentle, or hand wash
Drying Cycle Type Line 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 body and 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.

Project Metrics

Depending on how soiled your item is, the time it takes to clean a silk pillowcase can vary.

Working time: 1 hour

Total time: 2 hours

Skill level: Intermediate

What You'll Need

Supplies

  • Cold water
  • Gentle detergent
  • Distilled white vinegar

Tools

  • Drying rack
  • Iron

How to Wash a Silk Pillowcase

  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 dry but is weaker when the fibers are wet.

  2. Choose a Gentle Detergent

    Some detergents are simply too harsh for silk and will leave it feeling rough and scratchy. Choose a gentle detergent 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.

  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 and stain removers. These chemicals 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.

  4. Use Cold Water to Wash Silk Pillowcases

    Cold water is the best choice for washing silk. Hot water can often cause distortion in the fibers.

  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.

  6. Avoid Putting Silk Pillowcases in the Dryer

Remember, 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 and let it finish air drying.

Storing

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 on a shelf where it will not be crushed.

Ironing Silk Pillowcases

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 clean, white cotton cloth between the iron and the silk to prevent scorching. Burned silk fibers cannot be restored. Always iron flat and never press in sharp creases.