How Care and Clean for Satin Clothes and Sheets

satin garment on a hanger

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska 

Overview
  • Working Time: 30 mins - 1 hr
  • Total Time: 1 - 2 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner

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

Should You Wash or Dry Clean Satin?

The answer to whether you should wash or dry clean satin clothes is not a simple one. It depends on the type of fibers used to make the fabric. Following most manufacturers' fiber content terminology on care labels, you may see fabrics that feel like satin with these labels:

  • Satin is made of silk, polyester, or wool.
  • Duchesse (often labeled Duchesse Satin) is heavy, looks luxurious, and contains silk or rayon.
  • Sateen is made of cotton.
  • Canton satin contains two layers of fabric with different fibers for each layer.
  • Baronet satin has a silk appearance on the front side of the fabric, with a cotton backing; it is similar to georgette.
  • Charmeuse satin is very lightweight.
  • Faconne satin features a jacquard weave of intricate designs, often floral.
  • Gattar satin has a cotton weft and a silk warp.
  • 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.

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

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

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

Materials

  • Gentle laundry detergent
  • Enzyme-based stain remover

Instructions

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
materials for washing satin
The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska 

Instructions

  1. Read the Care Label

    Always take time to read the care label to determine the manufacturer's recommendations for care. Hand-washing satin is preferred over machine-washing because it is gentler on the fabric. But machine-washing can be done with care.

    reading the care label on a satin garment
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  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.

    pretreating a stain on satin
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska 
  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.

    placing a satin garment into the washer
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska 
  4. Opt for Gentle Drying

    Satin sheets should be hung to air-dry or tumbled on low heat and removed from the dryer while still slightly damp. Satin clothes should be dried flat away from direct heat and sunlight to prevent damaging and weakening of the long fibers.

    drying satin clothing on a rack
    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska 

What Is Satin?

Satin is a smooth and glossy fabric that can be woven from many different fibers, including wool, polyester, cotton, 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 create a shimmery look. During the manufacturing process, the woven material is run through hot cylinders to add even more shine.

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 wealthy. It was beloved in the 12th and 13th centuries by the Romans for the elegance it brought to royal garments. Satin became more accessible to average citizens after the invention of the power loom and in the Industrial Revolution, when manufacturers learned to use different fibers to create the look of silk satin.

Satin 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 women. 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.

Storing Satin Clothes and Sheets

Store satin garments in clean, cotton garment bags (or rolled up in clean, all-cotton pillowcases). Do the same with satin sheets and upholstery fabric.

Repairs

Snags and pulls in satin might be inevitable, but you can make them less noticeable. Lay your item on a flat surface, shiny side up. Grab the fabric on either side of the snag, and pull it taught several times. If this works, shake the fabric until it hangs correctly.

If yours is a larger snag that remains after pulling it taut, find a needle and thread that matches the color of the fabric. Insert the needle on the wrong (opposite) side, push it to the right side, and catch the snag. Then, reinsert the needle through the same hole, and pull the snag gently through. Steam the right side until the fabric hangs correctly.

Treating Stains on Satin Clothes and Sheets

Stains on satin are best treated immediately, without giving them time to set. If you catch it in time, blot the stain with a lint-free rag or washcloth, but never rub the stain as this sets it further.

If your stain remains, try using a mixture of half water and half vinegar to flush away the stain. If this doesn't work, you might have a grease stain. If so, sprinkle some talcum powder or flour on top, and let sit for a few hours to soak up the stain. Still there? A laundry stain remover might do the trick. If this doesn't work, try bringing the item to a trusted dry cleaner.

Ironing

If ironing is needed on satin, 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.

ironing a satin garment

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska  

Tips for Washing Satin Clothes and Sheets

  • If your satin item is a garment or pillowcase, turn it inside out before washing to protect its shiny fibers.
  • Never wring or twist satin because it may lose its shape.
  • If using a clothes steamer, keep the nozzle at least six inches away from the surface of the fabric to prevent water spotting.