Ironing Silk Clothes: A Comprehensive Guide to Avoid Damage

I absolutely love the look and feel of silk, but I used to be so nervous about properly caring for my delicate silk blouses and dresses.

Ironing silk clothes incorrectly can cause disastrous results, from melted fabric to yellow stains. However, using the right techniques helps maintain the beauty of silk for years to come.

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll walk you through everything you need to confidently iron your silk clothes without causing damage.

collecting silk ironing accessories

Why It’s Critical to Iron Silk Clothes Correctly

Mishandling silk during ironing leads to irreversible damage:

  • Silk can shrink, stretch, or change shape if exposed to overly high temperatures
  • The fabric can become “water spotted” if too much moisture is used while ironing
  • Yellow stains can emerge if you place a synthetic fabric pressing cloth on top
  • Parts of the garment may become damaged or scorched if excess heat is applied, especially with 100% silk.

Properly ironing silk keeps it looking pristine by:

  • Removing wrinkles and creases
  • Enhancing the drape and sheen
  • Restoring vibrancy of color after washing
  • Extending the lifespan for years to come

It may seem intimidating at first, but as long as you adhere to the garment care instructions and follow key techniques, you’ll keep your silk pieces smooth and stunning.

high quality pure silk

Before You Start Ironing: Proper Preparation

Before bringing out the iron, be sure to take a few preparatory steps:

  • Check clothing tags – Inspect garment tags for exact fabric composition and any special care symbols related to ironing silk. This ensures you choose suitable settings.
  • Clean the iron plate – Wipe down the iron plate to remove any residue, lint, or buildup from past use on other fabrics. Debris can damage silk’s delicate texture.
  • Use filtered or distilled water – When using steam, fill your iron with filtered or distilled water instead of tap water, which could leave mineral stains.
  • Have a pressing cloth ready – A silk pressing cloth, and a cotton cloth underneath, help prevent shininess and act as a protective barrier.
  • Clear an open area – Set up a spacious, clutter-free spot with room for laying garments flat while ironing. A large table or even a clean floor works!

Step-By-Step Guide to Ironing Your Silk Clothes

Follow these instructions when ironing anything from silk blouses to pants:

Adjust Iron Temperature Settings

  • For pure silk, use a low heat setting between 275°F to 300°F (135°C – 150°C). Higher temperatures risk yellowing or scorching delicate silk fibers.
  • Turn to a medium setting of 330°F (165°C) for silk blends containing rayon, wool, or polyester. The blend makes the fabric slightly more heat-resistant.
  • Refer back to clothing tags if a certain temperature is recommended, and adjust accordingly. Remember, you can always increase heat if needed but can’t reverse the damage!
iron adjusted for silk fabric
silk fabric washing label

Test on Tiny Area First

When in doubt about how any fabric will react to heat, always do a test swipe on a small, inconspicuous area first like:

  • Corner of a collar or cuff
  • Inner side seam allowance
  • Bottom hem

If no damage, discoloration, or shrinking occurs after testing, then proceed to iron the entire garment.

Use Both Pressing Cloths

  • Place a thin, cotton cloth directly over the iron board.
  • Then top the silk garment with another 100% cotton pressing cloth. This sandwich effect gives added protection.
  • Gently press the iron down on the pressing cloth, not on the item itself.
  • Avoid any back-and-forth scrubbing motion.
damp cloth prep for silk ironing
silk fabric unwrinkled and elegant
protective layer cotton cloth on silk
silk ironing with cotton press cloth

Proper Ironing Techniques

Follow these tips when moving the iron across silk items:

Silk ItemIroning Instructions
Button-up Blouses/ShirtsIron each section from top to bottom only. Workaround buttons carefully.
Delicate LingerieTurn garments inside out first. Iron in a downward motion on the inside, avoiding trim or lace details.
Flowing Dresses/SkirtsIron larger sections in one direction rather than back and forth. Let layers drape for smooth results.
Silk PantsIron creases or pleats down from waistband to hems, one leg at a time. Avoid seams around hips or knees.
Silk Tie/ScarfUse the lowest heat setting and don’t press down for more than 5 seconds at a time to prevent water spots or impressions.

Take extra precautions with embellished silk garments. Avoid direct contact between rhinestones, sequins, or beading and the hot iron which could cause melting or warping.

Ironing my favorite shirt led me to discover the best technique for ironing silk shirts that I must share.

silk tie ironing technique

Alternative Wrinkle Removal Methods for Silk

If you don’t feel comfortable using an iron, try these chemical-free tricks to relax wrinkles:

  • Hang the garment in a steamy bathroom while showering so the moisture releases wrinkles
  • Use a handheld or standing garment steamer following the manufacturer’s guide for silk setting
  • Stuff the item into a large plastic bag, add a damp towel, seal tightly and let sit for 30 minutes as the trapped steam de-wrinkles the fabric
  • For non-washable silk, take it to the dry cleaner and ask for light steam press only
  • Spritz very lightly with water, roll up tightly in a fresh towel, and unroll after 5 minutes
towel wrap for drying silk material

Storing Silk Clothes to Prevent Wrinkles

No one likes having to constantly re-iron items. Follow storage tips to keep silk wrinkle-free longer between wears:

  • Allow freshly ironed pieces to cool completely before hanging up to avoid re-wrinkling
  • Use padded hangers wide enough to fully support the garment and not leave indentations
  • Place clean white tissue paper between folds before putting silk items into drawers
  • For items worn frequently, use garment bags with vents that allow fabric to breathe while being stored
  • Before storing for longer periods, have delicate silk professionally cleaned first

Key Precautions When Ironing Silk

Keep these warnings in mind to safely care for your silk:

  • ALWAYS read and follow garment label instructions first
  • NEVER leave iron sitting in one spot on silk which risks scorching
  • Use steam setting sparingly, and remove moisture right away by pressing dry cloth over area
  • DO NOT iron directly over stains, snags or damaged spots as heat can set in problems
silk fabric textural close up

How Often Should Silk Clothes Be Ironed?

When it comes to ironing frequency for silk items, it really depends on several factors:

  • How prone the fabric is to wrinkling – Looser weaves like crepe de chine may show wrinkles after just 1 to 2 wears while tighter weaves hold shape better
  • Frequency of wearing between washes – Silk pieces worn more often likely require more touch-up ironing
  • Type of garment use – Blouses or shirts up against skin need more ironing than a silk jacket or accessory lightly worn over other layers
  • Personal preference on appearance – Some don’t mind minor wrinkling while others want crisp looks each wear

So set ironing frequency based on your silk type, wearing habits and wrinkle tolerance. In general, though, aim to iron most silk garments every 3 to 5 wears.

Can I Handwash Silk Clothes Instead of Ironing to Remove Wrinkles?

While some silk items like delicate lingerie or silk scarves can carefully be handwashed, I actually don’t recommend handwashing as a substitute for ironing most silk garments.

The heat and gentle pressure from steaming or ironing work best to relax fibers and remove resistant wrinkles without causing extra stress to the fabric which agitation in water can cause.

delicate hand wash for beige silk

What Type of Iron Should I Purchase Specifically for Use on Silk?

Look for a lightweight iron with adjustable temperature settings and a range of up to 300°F or 150°C, a nonstick plate, and a burst steam option to help relax wrinkles in delicate fabrics like silk.

Brands like Rowenta, Panasonic, or Reliable make high-quality irons well-suited for silk.

Can I Put Silk Items in the Dryer if I Want to Unwrinkle Them Quickly?

No, never put silk articles into a heated tumble dryer; however, you can use a cool air cycle for a short time if the fabric care label permits.

The harsh motion and high heat can irreparably damage silk by pulling threads, creating tears or holes, and stripping any embellishments. It’s best to let silk air dry fully laid flat.

silky green and white weave

Will My Silk Clothes Eventually Wear Down, Stain, and Lose Softness Even if I Care for Them Properly?

With proper care like low heat ironing, steam refreshing, dry cleaning when needed, and the proper storage techniques I outlined, quality silk garments can remain soft, vibrant, and stain-free for years without significant wear.

But remember that sunlight, body chemistry, and environmental factors can still degrade delicate silk fibers over long periods so handle them with care!

Ironing has always been tricky, but I’ve cracked the code on how to iron fake silk safely.


While silk requires gentle care, the key is simply taking precautions outlined here, like:

  • Adjusting iron temperature for fiber content
  • Keeping pressing cloths handy
  • Learning the ideal motions for each garment type
  • Storing properly between wears

Now that you understand the techniques, you can keep your silk pieces pristine for seasons to come! Confidently iron knowing the correct practices to avoid any damage.

I hope you found my comprehensive guide helpful. Please feel free to reach out if you have any other questions as you care for your beautiful silk items!

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