Care Guide for Silk Sheets and Silk Pillowcases

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Here at Fine Linen and Bath, we believe silk sheets are not only an indulgence but also fantastic investment in hair, skin and sleep quality. They're also a luxury, and you want to make them last. Take a moment to go over the following tips to help keep your silk sheets soft, luxurious, and welcoming over time.

Caring for your silk sheets and pillowcases

The first wash - Caring for your new silk pillowcases and silk sheets

When you first unbox your sheets, read and follow the care directions. You'll discover that silk is actually quite simple to care for, and requires only a bit of extra attention.

  • You should wash your new sheets before using, preferably by hand in cold water; a machine wash on a cold delicate cycle is also acceptable.
  • Silk should always be laundered separately in a SILK-ONLY LOAD. All silk items should be washed in mesh laundry bags using a gentle detergent (preferably one formulated for silk).
  • You can line dry your sheets outside or hang indoors but in either case keep them OUT OF SUNLIGHT. We don't recommend putting sheets in the dryer; if you must do so, use only the "air" setting.

Do's and Don'ts of Caring for your Silk Sheets and Pillowcases

DO use a pH-neutral detergent. Silk is a natural fiber. Washing it in detergents that are either too acidic or too alkaline will cause those fibers to harden. Look for a detergent clearly labeled as having a neutral pH, like those from Heritage Park Laundry Essentials. This will help maintain the integrity of your fabric with every wash.

DO wash silk separately from other items in a silk-only load.

DO turn silk pillowcases inside out before laundering.

DO invest in fine mesh laundry bags to help keep the silk from tearing. This is particularly important if your machine has an agitator mechanism. Silk is light and delicate; it can sometimes get caught under the agitator and tear and pull. The agitator and the inside of your machine can also have tiny nicks, burrs, and rough edges caused by other laundry items like zippers or buttons. A mesh wash bag will help protect your sheets from damage.

DON'T wash in hot water. Temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit (29 Celsius) can damage silk significantly. It is best to wash all silk products in cold water.

DON'T use bleach, which will harm the fabric and cause it to yellow.

DON'T use fabric softener. The natural thread fibers of silk and the specialized charmeuse weaving technique create the softest silk available. Fabric softener is unnecessary and will leave an unpleasant residue on the fabric.

DON'T dry clean. While it won't damage your silk sheets, dry cleaning is unnecessary. There's no benefit to incurring the extra expense. If machine washing is not an option, we recommend hand-washing with a small amount of detergent.

DON'T wring silk out. Roll it between white towels to blot, or lay white towels out on the bed and blot sheets on top of them.

DO line or hang dry your silk -- outdoors or inside -- to preserve the fabric. Use a clothesline, a non-slip hanger, or a drying rack out of direct sunlight. Avoid wooden drying racks which can leech dyes or stains into silk. Your silk should dry in about 45 minutes depending on temperature and conditions.

DON'T hang silk in direct sunlight, outdoors or inside. Exposure to sunlight can damage the silk fibers, and may cause colors to fade, especially in darker colored silk.

DON'T put your silk items in the dryer. Heat can damage delicate silk fibers. If dryer is absolutely necessary use only 'air' setting for 15 minutes or less with NO fabric sheets or dryer balls. Remove sheets and pillowcases before completely dry.

DO iron sparingly, only on the coolest setting with sheets and turn your pillowcases inside out. A light steam will enable the iron to glide smoothly over the fabric. You can also place a cloth between the iron and your silk item. Keep in mind that all silk wrinkles in the wash; the threads will start to relax and straighten after a few nights' uses. If you prefer to iron, we recommend ironing just your pillowcases (since they're all that show!) on the lowest setting available.

DO store silk carefully in breathable bags, away from direct sunlight, with moth repellent lavender sachets or cedar balls in close proximity.

Sheen, Stains, and Snags on your silk bedding and pillowcases

Sheen: It's normal for silk to lose a little of its original luster after repeated washing. If your silk looks absolutely dull, you may have used too much detergent which has left a coating. (Of course, double-check to make sure your pillowcase isn't inside out!). A touch up with a cool-warm iron will help restore the sheen and bring your silk back to life. Use a steam setting to ensure the iron glides smoothly across the fabric.

Stains: Spot treat stains with caution since some stain removal products can cause your silk sheets to discolor. We recommend using a bit of gentle detergent to pre-treat stains before laundering. Stains do not constitute product defects; stained items will not be accepted for return.

Snags: While silk is quite strong and durable, a small tear can quickly grow and compromise your fabric. To avoid this type of damage, use extra caution when washing; as we recommend above, a mesh laundry bag is ideal. When using your sheets, be mindful of anything that can tear or snag, including (but not limited to) rings, earrings and other jewelry; zippers, Velcro or hooks on clothing; sharp surfaces; long or broken nails; rough skin; and pets. Even facial hair or stubble can cause pilling and wear leading to tears over time.

Protect your investment with detergent formulated specifically for silk bedding and pillowcases

Choosing the proper detergent can help extend the beauty and integrity of your silk sheets. At Fine Linen and Bath, we recommend using a gentle detergent specially made and pH-balanced for silk. Heritage Park Fine Fabric Wash, will gently clean your silk sheets and keep them looking and feeling beautiful, wash after wash.

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  • Mary Babinski