At Mulberry Park Silks, our clients regularly turn to us for advice about caring for our beautiful mulberry silk bedding and accessories. We are always happy to let them know our silk sheets, silk pillowcase collection, and even many silk accessories like our silk scarves can be washed at home either by hand or in the washing machine. We are super proud of our washable silk because it saves our clients both time and money over dry cleaning.
Washing silk is simple. But you are most likely bound to end up with a wrinkle or two. So can you iron silk?
Whether or not to iron silk is a bit of a tricky question. The short answer is yes, you can iron silk. But you need to proceed with caution. Ironing silk takes careful preparation, the right equipment, and a bit of skill. There are definitely easier and safer ways to get wrinkles out of your silk clothes, silk scarf, silk pillowcases, and sheets. But read on to learn more about whether to iron your silk and how to go about it if you choose to do so.
What Happens When You Iron Silk?
Ironing silk without damaging it comes down to understanding that, like hair, raw silk is a protein-based natural fiber. One of the most wonderful properties of pure mulberry silk pillowcases is how well they help your hair and skin retain their natural moisture. This is a huge contrast to other cloth pillowcases, especially cotton, which actually pull moisture away from your skin and hair. In many ways, silk fiber is similar to your hair and -- just like hair -- it can burn under intense heat. If you've ever burned your hair with either a flat iron or flame, you know that can be unpleasant. In fact, one of the standard tests of determining whether fabric is genuine silk is the "burn test" because silk burns similarly to hair (with ashes) while polyester satin tends to melt like plastic. You can learn more about how to tell if your silk is genuine.
The Best Temperature for Ironing Silk
Because silk fibers will burn with heat, your safest bet is to use the coldest temperature possible when ironing silk. As with all delicate fabrics, you should read and follow the care instructions. Fortunately, most modern irons come with specific settings for various types of fabrics - if your iron has a setting for silk, you should use it. As a frame of reference, synthetic fabrics made of acetate or other polyester materials are usually ironed at the coolest setting, around 275°F, while cotton and linen are ironed at temperatures of 400°F or more. On most irons, the silk setting will be somewhere around 300°F.
Tips For Ironing Silk
If you are going to iron silk, follow these basic directions:
- Use an ironing board and an iron that has a dedicated silk setting. If your iron does not have a silk setting, use the lowest temperature to start; only increase slightly when and if needed.
- Make sure that both your ironing board and the surface of your iron are immaculately clean. Silk stains very easily, and any residual stains on these surfaces will be far more likely to transfer to silk due to the heat.
- You may also use a clean white cotton sheet between the silk item and the ironing board as well as a "press cloth" so you don't touch the iron directly on to the silk fabric. This makes more sense when you are ironing silk clothing as opposed to silk sheets.
- Silk is best ironed while slightly damp. Do NOT wring out your silk sheets or clothing. Instead, air dry them out of direct sunlight until they are nearly dry.
- Turn the silk inside out (you will be ironing the "wrong side" of the item). For Mulberry Park Silks charmeuse sheets, this means you will NOT be ironing the shiny side, but instead, the duller side.
- Spot test iron in a discreet location to make certain it will not burn.
- Move iron quickly across the surface of the silk; do not use a back and forth motion which can cause scorch marks. If you are ironing clothing, or a pillowcase or sheet set with only light wrinkles, use the press cloth between your iron and the silk and gently press out the wrinkles as opposed to moving back and forth.
- Only iron the MINIMUM amount necessary and DO NOT steam iron silk. The steaming moisture from your iron can stain a garment made of silk dupioni, silk curtains, and sheets.
Alternative Methods to Ironing Silk
Removing Silk Wrinkles
Removing wrinkles from your silk pillowcases, sheets and clothing does not necessarily require ironing. Indeed, our Mulberry Park Silks design team has several great suggestions that don't involve the risk that ironing does:
- Hang your sheets to dry, indoors or outside, away from direct sunlight. When they are slightly damp, place them on your bed and hand smooth them. (You can also use this method for sheets and lightly iron your pillowcases inside out, since those are the only things that show on a conventional bed).
- Use the dryer on a no-heat setting. As a rule, we never recommend putting silk sheets in the dryer. However, it is OK to put them in on a no heat setting (or a very low setting for a minute or two) with the express purpose of allowing the motion of the dryer to release the wrinkles. Again, wait until the sheets are almost completely dry before doing this.
- Use a wand steamer to sheets as they are hanging and almost dry. Follow directions carefully. Note: we don't like using the steam setting on the iron due to the potential for water stains on your silk sheets. A steamer, however, distributes a light, and diffuse burst of steam that shouldn't leave a mark.
Finally, keep this in mind: your sheets will naturally smooth and release wrinkles on their own after a day or two on your bed!
If you'd like to learn more about how to care for your silk clothing, pillowcases and sheets, check out our helpful and informative blog. We've also got the silk care products you need to make laundry day a success!
Silk Care Pro Tip: to wash silk in your washing machine, use cool water and a gentle cycle; place silk items in a separate mesh laundry bag, and use a detergent specially made to clean silk fabric such as bedding or silk garments. You can also hand wash silk in cool lukewarm water in a tub or utility sink. Never use fabric softener of any kind on silk clothing or bedding. Learn more about silk care and how to wash silk pillowcases and bedding.