Ironing Silk with Water: A Complete Guide to Avoid Damage

Silk is one of the fanciest and gentlest fabrics around. While its beauty is undeniable, keeping silk looking its best requires some special care, especially when it comes to ironing. 

If you’ve ever wondered if you can iron silk with water, you’ve come to the right place!

In this complete guide, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know to safely iron silk using water.

I’ll cover the ideal conditions for ironing silk, the role of water, step-by-step best practices, and alternative methods to remove wrinkles.

By the end, you’ll be able to keep your silk pieces looking pristine.

distilled water fill for iron

Can You Iron Silk with Water?

Let’s start by addressing the main question: yes, you can iron silk with water! However, there are a few precautions to take when doing so.

Silk has an extremely delicate fiber structure. The threads are very thin and prone to damage from heat and agitation.

This means you need to be extra careful when applying heat and moisture to silk fabrics.

Here are some key tips to keep in mind:

  • Always use the cool or low heat setting on your iron. High heat can easily scorch silk.
  • Don’t let the iron directly touch the silk. Use a press cloth or other barrier.
  • Only use water sparingly. Too much moisture can leave water stains.
  • Avoid vigorous back-and-forth motions. Instead, use a gentle up-and-down pressing technique.
  • Make sure the silk is damp but not totally wet before ironing.

I’ve always feared melting my silk clothes with an iron, but I’ve learned that it isn’t really supposed to happen.

damp cloth prep for silk ironing

By following these precautions, you can safely iron silk garments and add water as needed to remove wrinkles.

The key is controlling the amount of heat and moisture to avoid causing harm to the delicate fibers.

Preparing Silk for Ironing

To get the best results ironing silk with water, you need to start by creating the ideal conditions. Here are some ways to prep your silk before bringing out the iron:

  • Hang or lay the garment to air out any odors and relax the fibers.
  • Steam silk in the shower or use a garment steamer to add humidity.
  • For severe wrinkles, dampen the fabric by misting it with water or a spray bottle.
  • Ensure the silk is damp but not overly wet before ironing. Excess water can damage the fibers.
  • Use fabric softener or add vinegar to the rinse cycle to increase silk’s absorbency. This allows it to hold just the right amount of moisture.
silk stain cleaning with spritz method

The most important factor is that the silk has a slight dampness before ironing. This allows the heat and moisture from the iron to relax the fibers properly so the wrinkles release.

The Role of Water in Ironing Silk

So why bother using water at all when ironing silk? Here are some of the key benefits:

  • Moisture allows wrinkles to release – Heat combined with a bit of moisture provides the perfect combo for relaxing silk fibers and smoothing wrinkles.
  • Prevents scorching – Water creates a protective barrier between the hot iron and the silk fabric.
  • Controls temperature – Pouring water into the iron’s reservoir slows down the heating element, preventing excess heat.
  • Adds steam – If your iron has steam settings, the right amount of steam can unwrinkle silk effectively.

You have a couple of options for adding moisture when ironing silk:

  • Mist the silk lightly with a spray bottle as you iron.
  • Use the steam function on an iron with adjustable steam controls.
iron steaming method

Either way, use moisture sparingly and avoid making the silk overly wet. Now let’s get into the best techniques for ironing silk safely.

Best Practices for Ironing Silk

Follow these step-by-step instructions for ironing silk garments correctly:

1. Prep your iron

  • Fill the water reservoir if using steam. Distilled water is ideal to prevent mineral buildup.
  • Set the iron to the coolest setting, usually labeled “silk” or around 300°F – 350°F.
  • Place an ironing board cover or clean towel over your ironing surface. This prevents shininess.
iron filled with distilled water
silk specific iron temperature setting
cotton cloth iron press technique

2. Prepare the garment

  • Hang or lay out the silk item to remove any creases.
  • Lightly mist the fabric with water if it doesn’t already have dampness.
silk awaiting de wrinkling on board

3. Iron the garment

  • Place a press cloth over the top side of the garment. Natural fiber cloths work best.
  • Hold the iron just above the material without direct contact.
  • Use gentle up and down motions to apply heat and pressure. Avoid scrubbing back and forth.
  • Lift and move the iron slowly to reach wrinkled areas. Repeat as needed.
  • Turn the garment inside out and repeat the process on the reverse side.
  • For collars, seams, and difficult areas, use the point of the iron carefully.
gentle silk pressing with cotton cloth
silk fabric finishing with cotton press cloth
smooth silk result post ironing
smooth silk post ironing

4. Finish with care

  • Allow the garment to fully cool and air out before wearing or storing.
  • Use padded hangers to store silk garments.
silk resting after ironing

Following these steps will give you smooth, wrinkle-free silk without damaging the delicate fibers.

The key is taking it slowly with moderate heat and using a press cloth as a protective barrier.

Alternative Methods to Remove Wrinkles from Silk

While ironing is the most thorough approach, there are other options for getting wrinkles out of silk if you don’t have an iron handy. Here are a few alternative methods to try:

  • Steaming – Hang the item in a steamy bathroom while showering or use a handheld garment steamer. The moisture can help relax fibers.
  • Rolling – Gently roll up the silk item and place it in a plastic bag in the fridge overnight. The cool temperature eases wrinkles.
  • Spot treating – For isolated wrinkles, use a spray water bottle and your fingers to smooth them out. Then press with a dry towel.
  • Hang drying – After washing, hang silk pieces to fully dry on non-plastic hangers. This allows gravity to pull wrinkles out.
air drying wet silk garment

While these may not get silk perfectly smooth, they can help reduce wrinkles in a pinch. Just remember to always handle silk delicately and avoid overly wetting the fabric.

The Use of Steam on Silk

Steam can be an effective wrinkle remover for silk when used properly. Here’s what you need to know:

Can you steam 100% silk?

Yes, pure silk fabrics are fine for steaming. In fact, steam is gentler than ironing since there is no direct contact.

iron steaming method

What temperature should be used for steaming silk?

Use a lower steam setting between 300°F and 350°F. Avoid the “high steam” option which can get too hot.

No more guesswork on setting your iron temperature for silk fabrics, I’ve found the sweet spot.

Does steaming damage silk?

As long as you keep the steamer moving and don’t oversaturate the fabric, steaming does not damage silk. The moisture relaxes fibers to release wrinkles.

How to steam silk:

  • Hang the garment on a padded hanger or rod so the fabric can relax.
  • Keep the steamer 6-8 inches away and hold it at a slight angle.
  • Gently glide the steamer head across the surface of the fabric. Don’t press down.
  • Target wrinkled areas but don’t let the steamer linger too long in one spot.
  • Allow the garment to fully dry before wearing or storing.
cotton cloth ironing technique for silk
using iron for steaming

The light-penetrating heat of a steamer is an excellent alternative to ironing delicate silks. Just take care not to get the fabric too wet.

Dealing with Water Damage on Silk

Even with proper care, silk can end up with water stains or damage. Here are some tips for restoring silk after water exposure:

  • Blot any excess moisture immediately with a towel. Don’t rub vigorously.
  • For white vinegar solution – mix 1 part vinegar with 2 parts water in a spray bottle. Lightly mist stained areas and let sit for 5 minutes before blotting dry. The vinegar helps remove discoloration.
  • Hand wash the garment if needed using cold water and a gentle detergent like baby shampoo. Air dry flat away from direct heat.
  • For stubborn stains, take the garment to be dry cleaned by a reputable cleaner. Inform them of the water damage so they can treat it properly.
  • Store silk in a breathable garment bag after drying. Check periodically for mildew or yellowing which may need further treatment.
  • Use silk-restoring products containing chlorophyllin to combat water spots and discoloration after cleaning.

With some care, silk garments can often recover fully from minor water damage.

But it’s always best to take precautions when laundering and ironing to avoid harming the delicate fibers.

high quality green white silk


I hope this guide takes the apprehension out of ironing silk fabrics. While silk requires gentle care, you can safely use an iron with water to keep items wrinkle-free.

The keys are using low heat, keeping the silk slightly damp, and avoiding direct contact with the iron.

I’ve covered everything from proper temperature settings to techniques for avoiding water damage. Just remember to always use caution with fine fabrics like silk

 Do you have any other tips or tricks for keeping silk looking fabulous? I’d love to hear your best silk care secrets! Tell me in the comments below.

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