How Care and Clean for Satin Clothes and Sheets

Large bed with satin 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.

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 create 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.

How to Wash Satin Clothes and Sheets
Detergent Gentle 
Water Temperature Cool
Washer Cycle Delicate
Drying Cycle Low heat
Special Treatment Hand-washing or Dry cleaning recommended
Ironing Low to Medium heat

Project Metrics

There are a few factors to keep in mind before washing satin.

Working time: 30 minutes to 1 hour (depending on machine or hand-washing)

Total time: 2 hours

Skill level: Beginner

What You'll Need

Supplies

  • Gentle laundry detergent
  • Enzyme-based stain remover

Tools

  • Washer or large sink for hand-washing
  • Mesh delicates bag (optional)
  • Automatic dryer
  • Indoor drying rack (optional)
  • Iron or clothes steamer

Instructions

  1. Read the Care Label

    Always take time to read the care label to determine the manufacturer's recommendations for care. If you are a laundry novice, and the label says "dry clean only", follow those guidelines.

    Hand-washing satin clothes is always preferred over machine-washing because it is more gentle on the fabrics.

  2. Pretreat Stains

    If there are visible stains on the satin garment, pretreat the area with an enzyme-based stain remover. Work the stain remover into the fabric with your finger and let it work for at least 10 minutes before washing the item.

  3. Set the Washing Machine

    Select the delicate cycle, lower final spin speed, and cold water settings on your washer for satin. If washing a satin blouse with other items, place it in a mesh bag to prevent snags.

  4. Opt for Gentle Drying

    Satin 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.

  5. Remove Wrinkles

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. If using a clothes steamer, keep the nozzle at least six inches away from the surface of the fabric to prevent water spotting.

Types of Satin Fabrics

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 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.

Satin Is On Pointe

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.

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.