Is Drycleaning Ruining Your Silk Sheets?

Dry cleaning silk is one way to clean it, but it is not necessarily the best option. This article from Mulberry Park Silks discusses what to consider when sending your silk to the dry cleaners. It also offers simple instructions for washing silk bedding and other items.

Silk Fabric: Handle with Care

Woman Using Heritage Park Silk and Wool Detergent to Gently Machine Wash her Silk Sheet

Whether it’s a set of our indulgent charmeuse weave sheets, your favorite blouse, or a chic cocktail dress, silk fabric is known for timeless beauty and absolute luxury. The sumptuous look and feel of silk have been prized for thousands of years. Of course, the very qualities that make silk so desirable—softness, luster, sheen, and breathability—are the reasons why silk requires special care. Silk is a protein-based fabric, spun from the fibers of the cocoon of the silkworm. Any cleaning process, including professional dry cleaning and washing at home, should take silk’s unique natural properties into consideration.

The Mulberry Park Silks team has been fielding lots of inquiries lately regarding whether our silk should be dry cleaned. The short answer is it is not necessary, as our silk can be hand- or machine-washed. But we think it’s worthwhile to explain what to look for when you do dry clean silk. Read on to learn more about dry cleaning silk.

Do You Need to Dry Clean Silk?

Woman dry cleaning

As we just noted, our mulberry silk sheets do not need to be dry cleaned (see below for instructions on how to wash them). However, many silk items do require dry cleaning. Typically this would apply to any garments with a lining or embellishments that could be damaged in the wash. Certain weaves of silk—for example taffeta, chiffon, and shantung—also require dry cleaning. The care label on your silk garment or item will explain what to do. If your silk garment says “Dry Clean Only,” do not attempt to wash it.

What to Look for In a Dry Cleaner for Your Silk Items

If the care label on your silk item says dry cleaning is required, you should seek the help of a professional cleaner. With that said, not all dry cleaners are equally skilled at cleaning silk. Keep in mind that silk is a protein-based fiber, with natural properties including softness, luster, and breathability. Silk is also inherently hypoallergenic and (in the case of silk bedding) hydrating to skin and hair, as it is spun from the protective cocoon of the silkworm. Dry cleaning involves using solvents instead of water to remove dirt, stains and odors. The harsh chemicals used by some dry cleaners can, over time, cause silk fibers to dry out; fade; become hard and brittle; lose their sheen; and even shrink. Here’s how to avoid these outcomes:

  • Look for a dry cleaner that is experienced in cleaning silk and other delicate fabrics. The staff at these establishments should be well-versed in safely dry cleaning silk and use machines and techniques that don’t subject the fabric to undue stress.
  • Avoid dry cleaners that use perchloroethylene (PERC), a solvent commonly used to remove soil and grease from fabrics. PERC can be harsh on silk fibers, causing them to become brittle and lose their natural luster over time. Instead, choose a dry cleaner that uses gentler chemicals like hydrocarbon-based or liquid silicone-based solvents, which don’t damage or discolor silk fabric. 
  • Inquire about stain treatment. A reputable silk dry cleaner will be able to explain how they pretreat stains before dry cleaning and how they address stubborn stains that remain after.

How to Wash Silk Sheets (And Other Washable Silk Items)

The good news is that many silk items—including our pure charmeuse silk sheets—can be safely and easily washed at home either in your machine or by hand. Follow these guidelines:

Step 1: Use a Detergent Specially Made for Silk

Silk and Wool Detergent in a Basket with a silk sheet
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The proteins in silk fiber are the source of all its wonderful moisturizing, hypoallergenic, and antimicrobial properties. You want a detergent that protects those properties. Choose a gentle detergent formulated for natural fiber and made without enzymes. We recommend Heritage Park Silk and Wool Detergent, a concentrated, pH-neutral detergent made with plant-based ingredients to clean and protect silk fabric. The fragrance-free variety is lab-certified hypoallergenic and pediatrician- and dermatologist-tested. It is also available in three lightly fragranced varieties: Lavender Mist, Shore Breeze, and Spring Magnolia.

Step 2: Wash A Silk-Only Load and Place Items in Mesh Laundry Bags

Hand Filling a Mesh Laundry Bag to Wash Silk
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Silk should be washed in its own load, as it can be damaged by other heavier fabrics (ex: towels) as well as any garments with zippers, buttons, or adornments. We also recommend putting silk bedding and clothing in fine mesh laundry bags to protect against damage from burrs and snags in the washer drum as well as the agitator.

Step 3: Use a Gentle Cycle and Cool Water

Woman Machine Washing silk Sheets

Hot water is not necessary to get your silk clean and is not good for the silk fiber. Pick a delicate or “hand wash” cycle and use cool water.

Step 4: Never Use Bleach or Fabric Softener

These products can seriously damage your silk and should never be used.

Step 5: Hang or Line Dry Away from Direct Sunlight

Using a Drying Rack

If your silk is wet when taken out of the washing machine, roll it in a clean towel to absorb excess moisture (do not wring). Hang or line dry indoors or outside away from direct sunlight (sun can fade silk). Ironing silk sheets is not necessary, as they will smooth out on their own after a day or two on the bed. If you do iron your silk sheets, follow these directions.

Note: To hand wash your silk, fill a tub or basin with cool to lukewarm water. Use a capful of Heritage Park Silk and Wool Detergent. Submerge items and gently agitate with your hand; don't rub or scrub. Thoroughly rinse in cool water until all soap is gone. Press in a clean towel to remove excess moisture. Or check out this helpful video:

We hope you’ve learned how easy it can be to machine wash your silk sheets and other items. Remember that the care instruction label is always your first and best resource, so read it and follow the guidelines. As always, the Mulberry Park Silks team is here to answer questions about our products and how best to care for them. Drop us an email or give us a call; we are here to help!

Mulberry Park: Accessible and Affordable Luxury Silk

We founded Mulberry Park with one simple mission: to design the highest quality silk items in the market and offer them at an affordable price. And we've done just that, with a full range of silk products made from 100% pure mulberry long strand silk fabric. The silk fabric used for our silk sheets and silk pillowcases has also been OEKO-TEX® Certified (Standard 100) to be free of chemicals.

Visit us online or call us at (800) 860-1924 to learn more about our silk sheets, silk pillowcases, duvet covers and shams, and real silk accessories including sleep masks, travel pillows, and silk hair scrunchies.