A closeup image of golden silk.

How to wash silk clothes at home, including sarees: The ultimate guide

Can you imagine anything worse than finding a food stain on your best silk dress? Or splashing tea over your only silk saree? How about finding your favourite silk blouse all shrivelled up at the back of the washing machine? Silk has a reputation as a ‘problem fabric’, but it’s actually not that hard to take care of. Here’s how to wash silk clothes – including sarees – the right way.


How to wash silk clothes at home: 4 top tips

Before we dive in and start explaining how to wash silk sarees at home, there are are a few golden rules to remember.

  • Check the colour-fastness. Save yourself the heartache of finding out too late that the colour has drained out of your favourite silk scarf with a simple colour-fastness test
  • Keep the temperature low. That means no hot water, no hot irons, and no drying machines.
  • Use a gentle detergent. Use a detergent that’s specifically designed to take good care of silk. Avoid harsh stain removers and bleach – these will damage your silk clothes. 
  • Check the label. If the care tag states that the garment must be dry-cleaned, take it to a professional – it isn’t worth the risk.

Got all that? Let’s find out how to wash silk clothes.


How to wash silk clothes by hand

You don’t always need to hand wash silk, but it’s usually the safest option for items that aren’t ‘dry clean only’. Here’s how to wash silk clothes at home by hand:

  1. Fill a basin with cool or lukewarm water, and add a few drops of a gentle detergent suitable for silk. You could even use a gentle body soap – something like baby soap would be ideal.
  2. Soak your garments for about five minutes.
  3. Drain the water from the bowl and refill it with cool water, adding a quarter of a cup of white vinegar. This will help remove any excess soap from the fabric.
  4. Drain the vinegar solution. You could do a third soak with a few drops of fabric conditioner in the water at this stage. If you don’t want to do this, skip straight to rinsing the garment well with cool water.
  5. Lay the wet piece of clothing out flat on a clean, dry towel, then roll the towel up and gently press it to squeeze out any excess water. 
  6. Transfer the garment to a fresh towel so that it can dry flat, or hang it up to air-dry.


How to wash silk clothes in a washing machine

Some silk garments can be safely washed in the machine, but remember to check the label for washing instructions first. If you’re unsure, wash by hand – it’s better to be safe than sorry. Here’s how to wash silk clothes at home in the machine: 

  1. Set the wash cycle to “delicates” or “hand wash”. Make sure the wash temperature is no higher than 30.
  2. Add a detergent suitable for delicate fabrics to the detergent drawer.
  3. Put the silk in a pillowcase or mesh garment bag before washing – this will keep it from snagging in the machine.
  4. When the clothes come out of the washer, roll them in a towel as before and either dry flat or hang up to dry. Remember: silk should never go in the dryer!

That’s it – now you know how to wash silk sarees and other special silky garments at home. If you follow these simple steps, your silk clothing will be fresh and soft in no time.


How to remove stains from silk sarees and other garments

So far, so good – but what about spills and stains? These can look quite scary on silk clothing, but there’s no need to panic. Just follow these tips: 

  • Act fast – stains will be much harder to remove once they’ve dried.
  • Gently scrape away as much of the stain as possible.
  • Treat the stain with diluted lemon juice or white vinegar. Remember to test any stain removal solutions on an inconspicuous area first. 
  • Wash the garment by hand or in the machine, according to the instructions above.


Top tip: For oil or grease stains, apply talcum powder or baking soda liberally to the stain and let it sit for a few hours. Then carefully brush the powder away and wash as normal.

And there you have it – everything you need to know about how to wash silk clothes at home! Now you can enjoy wearing this most luxurious fabric without worrying about how to wash it afterwards.

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