How to Wash and Care for Silk Sheets

White silk sheets placed inside washing machine

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 20 mins - 1 hr
  • Total Time: 1 hr, 30 mins - 1 day
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $0 to $10

Silk sheets are luxurious and comfortable for sleeping. The natural fibers adjust well to fluctuations in body temperature, absorb moisture but dry quickly, and are non-abrasive to skin and hair. Because silk sheets are usually quite expensive, you'll want to care for them properly. With some attention to water temperature and detergent selection, your silk sheets can last for many years.

Silk sheets can be machine-or hand-washed. If you decide to hand-wash the sheets, wash one sheet at a time in a large laundry sink, plastic tub, or bathtub. Use plenty of water and a small amount of detergent to avoid too many suds that are difficult to rinse away. Use a gentle touch with no twisting or wringing; gently squeeze out the water. While silk fabric is strong when it's dry, the fibers are much weaker when wet.

But silk sheets hold up quite well under repeated machine washing using a gentle cycle and mild detergent. Here's a foolproof method for washing your silk sheets.


Do not use chlorine bleach to whiten or disinfect silk sheets. It will permanently damage the fibers and the silk may dissolve in a strong chlorine bleach solution. Read labels and avoid stain removers that contain bleach to avoid discoloring and weakening of the fibers.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Washer, large sink, or tub
  • Automatic dryer or drying rack
  • Iron (optional)
  • Ironing board


  • Gentle detergent
  • Distilled white vinegar


How to Wash Silk Sheets
Detergent Mild or gentle detergent
Water Temperature Cold
Cycle Type Gentle
Drying Cycle Low heat
Special Treatments Use a pressing cloth when ironing
Iron Settings Lowest setting
How Often to Wash Weekly, or whenever needed
Materials and tools to wash silk sheets

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

How to Wash Silk Sheets

Take time to read the care label stitched along the hem of the sheets by the manufacturer. It will include instructions on water temperature, drying, and ironing.

  1. Pretreat Stains

    For any difficult-to-remove stains like blood, mascara, or makeup, work a tiny dab of detergent (hydrogen peroxide also works) into the stained area with your fingers. Let the detergent work for at least 15 minutes to begin lifting the stain before washing.

    Small amount of detergent placed on silk sheet stain

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  2. Set the Washer Cycles

    Silk sheets should be washed on the gentle cycle with the slowest final spin cycle, if that is set separately. Set the water temperature to cold.

    Washing machine set to gentle cycle for silk sheets

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  3. Add Detergent

    To keep the silky feel you desire, silk should be cleaned with a mild, gentle detergent. Choose one recommended for silk or wool (wool wash or Castile soap).

    Follow the label directions for dosage but for a full load of silk bedding, about 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup should be enough.

    Mild detergent poured in washing machine dispenser

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  4. Add Distilled White Vinegar

    Skip a commercial fabric softener and add distilled white vinegar to the rinse cycle. Vinegar helps remove any soapy residue left in the fibers and leave them silky.


    If hand-washing, use about one teaspoon of gentle detergent per sink basin and one-fourth cup of distilled white vinegar to the sink of rinse water.

    Distilled white vinegar poured into fabric softener dispenser for silk sheets

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  5. Wash the Sheets

    You'll have the best results if you wash silk sheets alone or with other silk fabrics. This will prevent snags and abrasion from stiffer fabrics. Don't overload the washer, the sheets should be able to "swim" in the water.

    Silk sheets loaded into washing machine for cleaning

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  6. Dry the Sheets

    Hot temperatures in an automatic dryer are not compatible. Tumble dry silk sheets on the lowest heat setting of your dryer. Remove the sheets while still slightly damp and allow them to finish drying on a drying rack.

    Some manufacturers of the finest silk sheets discourage the use of a mechanical dryer altogether and recommend indoor air-drying only.

    Dry machine put to low heat setting

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  7. Iron the Sheets (Optional)

    If you leave the sheets in the dryer too long and feel they are overly wrinkled, use the coolest temperature setting on your iron to press hems and pillowcases. You should 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.

    But ironing is not mandatory, as silk sheets generally flatten out smoothly once put onto a bed.

    Iron pressing silk sheets on cool setting with pressing cloth in between

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

What Are Silk Sheets?

Bedding sheets labeled "100 percent silk" or "100 percent Mulberry silk" are the real thing—fabrics woven entirely from threads spun from the excretions of the silk caterpillar. But be aware that bedding manufacturers often add the word "silky" to sheets made from finely woven polyester or other fibers. And the term "silk satin" is sometimes applied to fabrics that are actually a blend of bamboo and other fibers—with no genuine silk at all.

While these substitutes can be fairly luxurious on their own, they are much less expensive and less prestigious than real silk. A full set of silk sheets can easily cost $300 or considerably more, while comparable "silk satin" sheets made from a bamboo blend might cost $30 to $75.

Treating Stains on Silk Sheets

Most stains on satin will come out fairly easily if you simply pretreat them by rubbing in a little gentle laundry detergent or hydrogen peroxide and letting it work for a few minutes before washing. Deep-set sweat stains can be removed with a solution of white vinegar and water. An enzyme-based detergent can be used to get out blood stains.

Never use commercial stain or spot removers on silk, as it is likely to damage the color and finish of the fabric. Extremely stubborn stains can usually be successfully treated by a dry cleaner.

Silk Sheets Care and Repairs

Silk fabrics can fray or rip at the seams. Unless the damage is along a hem, most repairs to silk are noticeable due to the delicate nature of the fabric. If you choose to repair holes, hand-stitch the rip, and apply an anti-fraying product found at fabric stores. There are also no-sew fabric adhesive products that can repair a rip.

Storing Silk Sheets

Silk sheets should be folded or rolled without sharp creases that can weaken the fibers. Do not store in a plastic bag or box that can trap moisture, and choose a cool, dry closet. Silk fibers can attract moths, so use a small amount of a natural moth repellent, such as lavender or cedar balls, if you have trouble with insect infestations.

How Often to Wash Silk Sheets

Like most bedding, silk sheets are best washed once a week, but should be washed immediately if a visible stain occurs.

Tips for Washing Silk Sheets

  • Wash newly purchased sheets before you use them for the first time. This makes for the softest sleeping experience.
  • If washing in a machine with an agitator, place your sheets in a large fine-mesh bag for washing. This will protect the fibers from possible tearing from the agitator.
  • Don't air-dry silk sheets in direct sunlight. Dark colors can be especially prone to fading in bright sunlight.
  • Try to use pH-neutral detergent when washing silk sheets. Most detergents made for wool will work well on silk sheets.
  • Silk pillowcases should be turned inside out before washing.
  • Do not use enzyme detergent for general washing—only for spot-treating stains. Enzyme detergents can break down the silk proteins over time.
  • Should I use fabric softener when washing silk sheets?

    No. Fabric softener is not necessary with this naturally soft fabric. Fabric softeners can leave an unpleasant residue on the sheets.

  • Isn't hand-washing better for silk sheets?

    Hand-washing is certainly allowable, but it is not necessary. However, if you have a top-loading machine with an agitator, placing your sheets inside a fine-mesh bag for washing is recommended.

  • Can I use bleach to restore white silk sheets?

    No. Bleach can damage silk fabric and turn it yellow.

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. Care Guide for Silk Sheets and Pillowcases. Fine Linen and Bath.