Silk is a soft, lustrous fiber taken from the cocoon of the silkworm. Silk garments are delicate and can be easily damaged. If you have a tough stain like oil or chocolate or makeup on a silk garment, for best results, take the stained silk garment to a professional dry cleaner.
If you are a confident home launderer, remember that all stain removal products should be tested in an inconspicuous spot first. Dampen the end of a cotton swab with the stain removal product and touch it to an inside seam or hem. Let it sit for several minutes and then use a dry cotton swab to see if there is color transfer. Also check the area for spotting that may be permanent.
What About Light Soil From Normal Wear?
Read the care label in your silk garments. Some lightweight silks are hand washable in cool water with a mild detergent. Follow standard hand washing guidelines and rinse several times to remove suds. Never wring silk to remove water. Wringing can break the fibers. Dry flat.
Since silk is made of protein, it will dissolve in chlorine bleach. Even dilute solutions of chlorine bleach will cause permanent yellowing, color loss and weakening of silk so never use it even on white silk.
Restoring Dull Silk
If you have mishandled washable silk, it can lose its sheen and become dull. You can restore some of the shine by following these steps:
In a large sink or bucket, add one-fourth cup of white distilled vinegar to each gallon of lukewarm water. Mix well. Completely submerge the garment and swish around to completely soak the dress. Remove from the vinegar water and rinse several times in clean water. Do not wring!
Spread the garment on a heavy clean white towel and roll up to absorb the water. Repeat with clean towels until much of the water is absorbed. Hang to air dry using a plastic shaped or molded hanger - no wood that can stain. Do not hang over direct heat or in the sun.
Iron the garment on the wrong side while still damp using a very low heat. Extremely high temperatures when ironing can scorch silk. The scorching or yellowing occurs as the fibers begin to burn. Burned fibers cannot be revived.
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