How to Wash Silk Sheets

White silk sheets placed inside washing machine

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 - 15 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hr - 1 hr, 30 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5

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. It's been a generational beauty secret that a silk pillowcase helps prevent hair from tangling and skin from getting sleep wrinkles because your head glides across the fabric.

Since a set of silk sheets can be 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.

How Often to Wash Silk Sheets

As with any bedding, silk sheets should be washed at least weekly. If someone is ill or the weather is hot and humid, more frequent washing is needed.

Before You Begin

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

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 the 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 weaker when wet.

Warning

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
  • Ironing Board

Materials

  • Gentle detergent
  • Distilled white vinegar

Instructions

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
Materials and tools to wash silk sheets

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  1. Pretreat Stains

    For any difficult-to-remove stains like blood, mascara, or makeup, work a tiny dab of detergent (though 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 the Right Type of 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 two tablespoons to one-fourth cup should be enough.

    Mild detergent poured in washing machine dispenser

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  4. Add Distilled White Vinegar to the Fabric Softener Dispenser

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

    Tip

    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. Load 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. Use a Low-Heat Drying Cycle

    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.

    Dry machine put to low heat setting

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  7. A Cool Iron Is Best

    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.

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

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

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 which can trap moisture and choose a cool, dry closet. Silk fibers can attract moths, so use a small amount of natural moth repellent, such as lavender or cedar balls, if you have trouble with insect infestations.

Repairing Silk Sheets

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.