Does Silk Get Ruined in the Dryer? Mistakes to Avoid

Silk is a luxurious and delicate fabric that requires special care to maintain its beauty and longevity.

One of the most common questions asked by silk garment owners is whether using the dryer can actually ruin silk. The short answer is yes, as silk should never be dried in a dryer.

In this article, I’ll explain why, and provide you with essential tips to avoid ruining your precious silk garments during the drying process.

genuine silk texture detail

The Risks of Drying Silk in a Dryer

Putting silk in the dryer can have devastating consequences. Here’s what happens and why it’s so damaging:

  • Heat Damage: Silk is a natural protein fiber that can be easily damaged by high heat. The intense heat of a dryer can cause the silk fibers to become brittle, lose their luster, and weaken the fabric’s overall structure.
  • Shrinkage: Silk is notorious for shrinking when exposed to high heat and agitation. The tumbling action of a dryer can cause silk garments to shrink significantly, resulting in a misshapen and unwearable piece.
  • Texture Changes: Silk is prized for its smooth, luxurious texture. However, the combination of heat and tumbling in a dryer can cause the silk fibers to roughen, creating an undesirable texture that feels harsh against the skin.
  • Color Fading: The intense heat and agitation of a dryer can cause the vibrant colors of silk garments to fade or become dull, robbing them of their beauty.

Here’s an example of what can happen when silk is accidentally dried in a dryer:

I had a beautiful silk blouse that I loved wearing to special occasions. One day, in a moment of forgetfulness, I threw it in the dryer with the rest of my laundry.

When I retrieved it, the once-vibrant crimson hue had faded to a dull pinkish-red, and the fabric felt rough and stiff.

Worst of all, the blouse had shrunk so much that it was unwearable.

I needed to know what really happens when you tumble dry silk, and the results were enlightening.

pure luxury silk material

Identifying Damage: Did I Ruin My Silk?

If you’ve accidentally put silk in the dryer, it’s essential to inspect the garment for signs of damage immediately. Here’s what to look for:

  • Shrinkage: Try holding the garment up to your body or comparing it to a similar piece of clothing. If it’s significantly smaller, it has likely shrunk.
  • Texture Changes: Run your fingers over the fabric. If it feels rough, coarse, or stiff instead of smooth and supple, it has likely been damaged by the heat.
  • Color Fading: Compare the color to how it looked before drying. If it appears dull or faded, the heat and agitation have likely caused the dye to bleed.
  • Stiffness: Gently bend or crease the fabric. If it feels overly stiff or brittle, the silk fibers have likely been weakened or damaged.

It’s important to note that the extent of damage may not be immediately apparent.

In some cases, the full effects of dryer damage may not be visible until after the garment has been worn or washed a few times.

Preventative Measures: How to Safely Dry Silk

The best way to prevent silk from getting ruined is to avoid the dryer altogether. Here are some safe methods for drying silk garments:


  • Lay the silk garment flat on a clean, absorbent towel or drying rack.
  • Smooth out any wrinkles or creases.
  • Avoid direct sunlight, as it can cause fading.
  • Allow the garment to dry completely before folding or hanging.
shade air drying beige silk

Hanging to Dry

  • Use a sturdy, wide-shouldered hanger to maintain the garment’s shape.
  • Hang the garment in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight.
  • Smooth out wrinkles and creases as the garment dries.

Rolling in a Towel

  • Lay the damp silk garment flat on a clean, absorbent towel.
  • Carefully roll the towel, applying gentle pressure to absorb excess moisture.
  • Unroll the towel and allow the garment to air-dry completely.
towel wrap drying beige silk shirt
beige silk shirt soft towel press
beige silk shirt careful towel padding

Using a Steamer or Iron (with caution)

  • If wrinkles persist after air-drying, you can carefully use a steamer or iron on a low setting.
  • Place a clean, lightweight cloth between the iron and the silk to avoid scorching or shining.
  • Test a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure the heat doesn’t damage the fabric.

Salvaging Silk: Can You Fix Ruined or Damaged Silk?

If you’ve accidentally put silk in the dryer and it’s been damaged, don’t despair – there may still be hope for salvaging it.

The extent of the damage will determine the best course of action:

Minor Damage

If the damage is minor, such as slight shrinkage or minor texture changes, you may be able to restore the silk with some gentle care:

  • Steaming: Carefully steaming the garment can help relax the fibers and restore some of the softness and drape.
  • Fabric Conditioner: Soaking the garment in a solution of fabric conditioner and water can help rejuvenate the silk fibers and improve texture.
  • Stretching: For shrinkage, you can try gently stretching the damp garment back into shape before allowing it to air-dry.
silk fabric hand unwrinkling

Significant Damage

If the silk has been severely damaged, with significant shrinkage, color fading, or extensive texture changes, it may be beyond repair. However, you can still try these techniques:

  • Dyeing: If the color has faded significantly, you may be able to dye the garment a new shade to give it a fresh look.
  • Resizing: For severe shrinkage, you may be able to have the garment professionally resized or altered to fit again.
  • Repurposing: If all else fails, you can consider repurposing the damaged silk into a new project, such as a scarf, pillowcase, or decorative item.

Table: Signs of Silk Damage and Recommended Actions

Sign of DamageRecommended Action
Slight shrinkageGently stretch while damp, then air-dry
Minor texture changesSteam or use fabric conditioner solution
Faded colorDye to a new shade
Significant shrinkageConsider professional resizing or altering
Extensive texture changesRepurpose the silk for a new project

Can I Try Washing a Silk Garment That Has Been Damaged in the Dryer to Restore It?

It’s generally not recommended to wash a silk garment that has already been damaged by the dryer.

The heat and agitation from the washing machine can further weaken and roughen the silk fibers, compounding the existing damage.

Instead, focus on gentle care techniques like steaming, fabric conditioner solutions, or stretching the garment while damp.

I tested whether washable silk can safely go in the dryer, and here’s my verdict.

hand cleaning silk evening dress

Is There a Way to Prevent Silk from Shrinking in the Dryer if I Accidentally Put It In?

Unfortunately, once silk has been exposed to the high heat and tumbling action of a dryer, shrinkage is almost inevitable.

The best way to prevent shrinkage is to avoid putting silk in the dryer altogether.

If you do accidentally put silk in the dryer, promptly remove it as soon as you realize the mistake. The sooner you can stop the drying process, the less shrinkage may occur.

If My Silk Garment Has Already Been Ruined in the Dryer, Can I Still Wear It or Should I Discard It?

Whether you can still wear a silk garment that has been ruined in the dryer depends on the extent of the damage.

If the damage is minor, such as slight shrinkage or minor texture changes, you may be able to wear the garment, although it may not look or feel as luxurious as it once did.

However, if the damage is significant, with severe shrinkage, extensive texture changes, or color fading, it’s generally best to discard the garment or repurpose it for a different use.

Wearing severely damaged silk can lead to further deterioration and an unpleasant wearing experience.

elegant green white silk design

Can You Put Silk Blends in the Dryer, or Is It Only 100% Silk That Gets Ruined?

While 100% silk is at the highest risk of damage in the dryer, silk blends can also be affected.

Garments made of silk blended with other fibers, such as cotton or polyester, are still susceptible to heat damage, shrinkage, and texture changes.

The higher the silk content, the greater the potential for damage. It’s generally recommended to avoid putting any silk-containing fabrics in the dryer, regardless of the blend percentage.


Drying silk in a dryer is a surefire way to ruin the fabric’s beauty and integrity.

The combination of high heat and tumbling action can cause irreversible damage, including shrinkage, texture changes, and color fading.

To preserve the longevity and luxurious quality of your silk garments, it’s essential to follow proper drying methods, such as air-drying, hanging, or rolling in a towel.

If you’ve accidentally put silk in the dryer, act quickly to assess the damage and take appropriate steps to salvage the garment, if possible.

With patience and gentle care, you may be able to restore some of the silk’s original beauty and texture. Remember, prevention is key when it comes to silk care.

By following the recommended practices and avoiding the dryer, you can enjoy the beauty and elegance of your silk garments for years to come.

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