Can You Machine Wash Mulberry Silk? Learn Safe Washing Tips

I’m excited to provide some practical advice on properly caring for delicate mulberry silk clothing and fabrics.

As a lover of silk myself, I know how nerve-wracking it can be to clean these precious items! 

My goal with this article is to give you guidelines for safely machine washing mulberry silk without causing any damage.

washing machine silk care with mesh bag

Why Proper Care for Mulberry Silk Matters

Mulberry silk has a refined, luxurious feel and shine. But it is also extremely fragile and requires gentle care.

Washing silk improperly can lead to:

  • Loss of vibrancy and sheen
  • Permanent stains
  • Shrinkage or warping
  • Weakened fibers and tearing

Following proper technique preserves the integrity and beauty of silk over many wears.

white mulberry silk fabric yardage

Can You Machine Wash Mulberry Silk?

  • You can machine wash mulberry silk, but only under strict conditions using the delicate cycle, cold water, and a mild detergent.
  • Handwashing is still the gold standard, but with care machine washing is possible.
  • I would not machine wash silk labeled “dry clean only” as machine washing risks more harm than professional dry cleaning.

Below I’ll walk through everything you need to know to successfully machine wash mulberry silk without ruining your precious items!

Preparation Before Machine Washing Silk

Read the Care Label

Before anything else, always check the garment’s care label. This will specify washing instructions from the manufacturer.

  • If the label says “dry clean only” – take it to a professional cleaner rather than attempting machine washing.
  • If machine washing is allowed, follow any special instructions listed.
silk fabric care label

Pre-Treat Stains

  • Apply a small amount of mild detergent directly to stained areas.
  • Let it soak in for 5-10 minutes.
  • Gently dab stains with a soft cloth or old toothbrush. Take care not to rub aggressively.

Use a Mesh Laundry Bag

  • Place your silk items inside a mesh laundry bag before machine washing.
  • The bag protects the fragile silk fibers from snags and friction damage during the wash cycle.
mesh bag silk protection method

Separate by Color

  • Always wash dark silk fabrics separately from light or brightly colored ones.
  • Washing together can lead to dye transfer or bleeding.

Choosing the Right Washing Machine Settings

Select the Delicate or Silk Cycle

Set your machine to the most gentle, low-agitation cycle such as:

  • Delicates
  • Silk
  • Hand Wash
  • Gentle

This uses a slower agitator speed and lower water levels. Harsher normal or permanent press cycles can be too rough on silk.

delicate cycle for silk in washing machine

Wash in Cold Water

Only use cold water, even if the care label specifies warm. Warm or hot water risks:

  • Shrinkage
  • Dye run
  • Damage to fibers

Use a Mild Detergent

Choose a gentle, dye-free, and fragrance-free liquid detergent formulated for delicates or silk. Avoid powder detergents as they can leave residue.

I always recommend Heritage Park Laundry Detergent (link to Amazon) for silk items. It’s amazing how it preserves the fabric’s softness and color, making my silks look as good as new.

heritage park silk detergent silk clothes cleaning

Also steer clear of detergents with:

  • Bleaches
  • Brighteners
  • Enzymes
  • Fabric softeners

These harsh additives weaken silk fibers over time.

Step-By-Step Machine Washing Process

Follow these steps closely when machine washing your silk:

Load the Machine Properly

  • Shake out any items to unfold them fully. Silk creases easily if washed while bunched up.
  • Place in the mesh bag loosely without overpacking it.
  • Put the bag in the machine gently – no tossing!

Add the Right Amount of Detergent

To avoid residue:

  • Use 1/4 the regular amount of detergent recommended by the bottle for a full load. Over-sudsing damages silk.
  • Mix detergent into a gallon of cool water until dissolved, then pour carefully into the drum.

Start the Gentle Cycle

  • Select the delicate or silk cycle.
  • Set to cold wash and cold rinse.
  • Choose the lowest spin speed to reduce friction and tearing.
  • Allow the machine to fill completely before the wash agitator engages.

I like to stand nearby to listen and pause the cycle if I hear any thumping or imbalance. Frequently pausing to redistribute the load helps prevent friction damage too.

I researched whether mulberry silk has a distinctive smell, and here are my findings.

white mulberry silk bolt

Why Hand Washing is Best for Silk

While machine washing silk is possible with care, hand washing allows greater control and more delicate agitation.

So hand washing remains the gold standard, especially for heirloom quality or heavily embroidered silk.

Hand Washing Mulberry Silk

Below I detail the proper hand washing technique step-by-step:

Gather Your Materials

  • Basin or sink for washing
  • Mild liquid detergent
  • Soft towels
  • Mesh laundry bag (optional)
basin method for hand washing silk

Fill Basin with Lukewarm Water

  • Avoid extremes of hot or cold. Lukewarm allows detergent to dissolve while preventing dye run.
filling basin with water

Add a Small Amount of Mild Detergent

  • Start with just 1/4-1/2 teaspoon detergent. It’s easy to add more if needed.
  • Swirl the basin gently to dissolve and mix.

Immerse Silk Item & Gently Agitate

  • Keep agitation delicate – don’t rub, twist, or scrub!
  • Allow the detergent solution to do the cleaning without friction.
  • Soak 5 minutes for light soil, up to 30 minutes for heavier stains.
beige silk fabric careful handwash

Rinse Thoroughly

  • Drain wash water and refill basin with cool, clean water for rinsing.
  • Avoid hot rinse water to prevent shocking fibers.
  • Rinse until water runs clear.

Drying Mulberry Silk

Proper drying is critical to avoiding damage and shrinkage after washing your silk.

Gently Squeeze Out Excess Water

Don’t wring or twist silk to force water out! Instead:

  • Support the item’s shape while lifting upward.
  • Gently press with towels to soak up moisture.
towel drying gently beige silk
careful towel dry for beige silk
dab drying beige silk with towel

Lay Flat to Dry

  • Smooth out silk pieces to their original dimensions.
  • Lay flat on non-fuzzy towels or drying rack.
beige silk textile cool air drying

Never Machine or Line Dry!

Exposing silk to high heat and agitation from machines or hangers causes:

  • Shrinkage
  • Snags/tears
  • Loss of vibrancy

Instead, air dry out of direct sunlight. Rotate periodically while drying.

Additional Care Tips for Mulberry Silk

Ironing Silk

  • Use medium heat setting. Place a cloth between the iron and silk.
  • Iron when slightly damp to avoid water marks.
  • Don’t leave iron sitting – move continuously!
protective cotton cloth ironing method

Storing Silk

  • Keep silk covered in breathable cotton or acid-free tissue.
  • Allow silk to finish drying fully before storing away.
  • Store in a cool, dark place like an armoire.

De-Wrinkling Silk

  • Hang in the bathroom while showering for the steam to relax wrinkles.
  • For stubborn wrinkles, use an iron or hand steamer on low.
silk shirts steam refreshing

Can you machine wash all types of silk?

While you can machine wash mulberry silk, I’d advise hand washing for wild, tussah, and dupioni silks which are more textured and prone to snags.

Stick to dry cleaning for delicate silk satins and heavier brocades.

What if my silk item gets damaged in the wash?

Stop the cycle immediately and gently reshape the item by hand while still wet. Lay flat to dry – the fibers may relax into their original positions.

If not, a professional textile restoration service may be able to repair any tears, holes or dye discoloration.

I looked into if it’s safe to get mulberry silk wet, and here’s what I found out.

blue and white mulberry silk material

Are certain detergents specially formulated for washing silk?

Yes, brands like Heritage Park, The Laundress, and Soak offer ultra-delicate detergents for silks and fine fabrics.

They’re a bit pricier but contain special silicones and brightening agents tailored to silk’s needs.

Can I use fabric softener when machine washing silk?

No, you should avoid fabric softeners with mulberry silk. The oils, fragrances, and coatings can leave residue on the fabric that attracts dirt over time. This causes silk to look dull. 

Softener residue also reduces silk’s absorbency and breathability.

Instead, add a half cup of white vinegar to the machine’s rinse cycle – it acts as a natural fabric softener without leaving buildup.

green and white mulberry silk fabric piece

Can I wash a silk comforter in my home washing machine?

I would not recommend machine washing large silk items like comforters, duvets, or quilts at home. Their density and size make proper cleaning difficult for a standard home machine. 

Instead, look for a commercial laundry facility in your area specializing in silks, down, and delicates.

Their large capacity machines and drying tumblers are specially calibrated to handle bulky items without damage from friction or heat.

For general upkeep between deep cleanings, air out silk comforters frequently and spot clean stains gently by hand.

What temperature water is safe for rinsing silk in the washing machine?

Always use cold water for both washing and rinsing delicate silk items in the machine. 

Lukewarm water may seem gentle, but hot rinse water, even up to 40°C, can cause subtle shrinking in silk fabrics. Play it safe with full cold rinses to avoid damaging the fibers.

machine wash silk using delicate program setting

Let’s Keep Our Silk Sensational!

I hope these complete care guidelines give you confidence to keep your treasured mulberry silk items looking vibrant and sensationally soft.

Always err on the gentle side, follow fabric care labels, and stick to delicate cycles, cold water, and mild detergents.

With some basic care principles, we can all enjoy silk without shrinkage, stains, or other damage.

Handwashing is best but machine washing is possible for mulberry silk using these tips. Let’s maintain silk’s delicate beauty together!

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