How to Wash Satin Clothes and Sheets

care of satin clothes and sheets
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Satin clothes and sheets are elegant and luxurious but what is the best way to take care of them? First it is important to understand the fiber content of your beautiful satin item.

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Wash or Dry Clean Satin Clothes and Sheets?

The answer on whether to wash or dry clean satin clothes is not a simple one. It depends on the type of fibers used to make the fabric.

Satin refers to a smooth and glossy fabric that can be woven from many different fibers ranging from wool to polyester to cotton to silk or rayon. The glossy look is created by weaving threads so that four warp threads float over one weft thread rather than the basic one over and one under of a standard weave. These floating threads with less interlacing creates the shimmery look. Also, during the manufacturing process the woven material is run through hot cylinders to add even more shine.

Following most manufacturers' fiber content terminology on care labels, you may see fabrics that feel like satin with these labels:

Satin: Fiber content of silk, polyester, or wool.

Duchesse (often labeled Duchesse Satin): Fiber content of silk or rayon.

Sateen: Fiber content of cotton.

Canton Satin: Material is constructed two layers of fabric with different fiber content for each layer.

So, wash or dry clean? Read the fiber content labels and follow the care label instructions recommended by the manufacturer. If you are a laundry novice and the garment is expensive, head to a professional dry cleaner.

Tips for Washing Satin Clothes and Sheets

  • Due to the delicate weave, satin clothes or sheets should be hand washed or cleaned using the delicate cycle of your washer. Always use a cold water temperature for the wash and rinse and a gentle detergent.
  • If hand washing, do not wring or twist the satin fabric. Gently swish through the cleaning and rinse water.
  • Do not dry on high heat in a tumble dryer. Sheets should be hung to dry or tumbled on low heat and removed from the dryer while still slightly damp and allowed to air dry.
  • Satin clothes should be dried flat away from direct heat and sunlight to prevent damaging and weakening of the long fibers.
  • If ironing is needed, iron on a low to medium low heat setting on the wrong side of the fabric. Always use a pressing cloth between the iron and the fabric.

History of Satin Fabric

Originally all satin fabrics were woven from silk fibers only. The process originated in China in the 12th century and was shipped from the port city of Zayton which spurred the name, satin. Because of the properties of silk and the amount of labor needed to produce satin fabrics, it was only available to royalty and the very wealthy. It was beloved in the the 12th and 13th centuries by the Romans for the elegance it brought to the royal garments.  Satin became more accessible to average citizens after the invention of the power loom and the Industrial Revolution when manufacturers learned to use different fibers to create the look of silk satin.

There are many variations of the satin weave and the weight of the finished fabrics. A knowledge of satin terminology will help you determine if you have selected the proper fabric.

  • Baronet satin a silk appearance on the front side of the fabric with a cotton backing and is similar to georgette.
  • Duchesse satin is heavy and looks very luxurious. 
  • Charmeuse satin is very lightweight.
  • Faconne satin features a jacquard weave of intricate designs, often floral.
  • Gattar satin fabric has a cotton weft and a silk warp to make a blended fabric.
  • Farmer’s satin is woven from mercerized cotton thread.
  • Messaline satin is lightweight and loosely woven.
  • Sultan satin is woven from worsted fibers that have been combed to a silky state.
  • Slipper satin is heavy and stiff in texture.
  • Surf satin resembles taffeta and is often used in costumes.

    Uses of Satin Fabrics

    Satin fabric is considered a luxury textile for wedding and evening gowns, lingerie, and sleepwear. It is also used to create pointe shoes for ballet and evening shoes for ladies. Most coat linings are made from satin because the smooth surface allows the lining to glide easily over other fabrics. You'll also find it used to create iconic sportswear like satin baseball jackets!

    Satin is also used for home furnishings like pillows, upholstery, bed sheets, and comforters.