Drying Silk in the Dryer Without Heat: A Complete Guide

Silk garments are elegant, luxurious, and require special care to maintain their beauty and longevity.

One common dilemma that silk owners face is how to properly dry these delicate items. The idea of tossing silk into the dryer, even on a no-heat setting, can be daunting.

Fear not! In this comprehensive guide, I’ll provide you with clear, practical advice on drying silk in the dryer without heat, ensuring your treasured pieces remain in pristine condition.

silk washing technique using mesh bag in machine

What You Need to Know About Silk and Dryers

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty, let’s address the burning question: Can you tumble dry silk with no heat? Is it okay to put silk in the dryer? The answer is a resounding “yes and no.”  

Confused? Don’t worry; I’ll explain.

Understanding your dryer’s no-heat setting is crucial when it comes to silk care.

This setting is designed to circulate air without generating heat, making it a potential option for drying delicate fabrics like silk.

However, there are risks involved, and it’s essential to follow best practices to avoid damaging your precious garments.

The No-Heat Setting Explained

The no-heat or air-only dryer setting, also known as the “air fluff” or “air dry” cycle, is a valuable feature for various laundry tasks.

As the name suggests, it tumbles your clothes without generating heat, relying solely on the circulation of air to remove moisture and freshen up items.

This setting serves several purposes:

  • Drying delicate fabrics that can’t withstand high temperatures
  • Fluffing up pillows, blankets, and comforters
  • Removing wrinkles from clothes without heat
  • Freshening up lightly worn garments

While the no-heat setting can be a silk owner’s best friend, it’s crucial to understand the potential risks and take precautions to ensure your silk items remain in top condition.

close up view silk fabric weave

Risks of Drying Silk in a Dryer

Even with the no-heat setting, drying silk in the dryer can be risky. Here are some potential hazards to be aware of:

  • Shrinkage: Silk is a natural protein fiber that can shrink when exposed to agitation and heat. While the no-heat setting eliminates the heat factor, the tumbling action itself can cause silk to shrink or lose its shape.
  • Abrasion: The tumbling motion in the dryer can cause silk fibers to rub against each other or against other items in the drum, leading to abrasion and potential damage.
  • Static cling: Silk is prone to static cling, which can be exacerbated by the drying process in the dryer, causing your garments to cling to each other or other fabrics.
  • Color transfer: If you’re drying silk items with other colored garments, there’s a risk of color transfer, which can ruin your precious silk pieces.

To help you visualize the potential risks, here’s a table summarizing what can happen if you dry silk in the dryer, even on a no-heat setting:

ShrinkageAgitation can cause silk fibers to contract and shrink.
AbrasionTumbling action can cause silk fibers to rub and damage.
Static ClingSilk is prone to static buildup during drying.
Color TransferDyes from other garments can transfer onto silk.

While these risks exist, there are ways to minimize them and safely dry your silk items in the dryer using the no-heat setting. Let’s explore the best practices.

To avoid mishaps, I explored the risk of silk shrinking in the dryer, and I’m ready to share my advice.

pure silk fabric swatches

Best Practices for Drying Silk Without Heat

If you choose to use the no-heat setting to dry your silk garments, follow these guidelines for optimal results:

  • Separate silk from other fabrics: Drying silk items separately from other garments helps prevent abrasion, color transfer, and tangling.
  • Use a mesh bag or pillowcase: Place silk items in a mesh bag or a clean, breathable pillowcase to protect them from abrasion and provide an extra layer of protection.
  • Check frequently: Keep an eye on your silk items during the drying cycle. Remove them as soon as they’re partially dry to avoid over-drying and potential damage.
  • Consider alternatives: Air drying or using a hairdryer on a cool setting can be safer options for drying silk, especially for delicate or embellished pieces.

Here are some bullet points to help you remember the best practices:

  • Separate silk from other fabrics
  • Use a mesh bag or pillowcase
  • Check frequently and remove when partially dry
  • Consider air drying or using a cool hairdryer

When it comes to drying silk sheets and pillowcases, the same principles apply.

However, due to their larger size, it’s often easier and safer to air dry them on a drying rack or clothesline.

mesh bag silk protection method
silk scrunchie mesh bag preserving

Accidents Happen: If You’ve Accidentally Put Silk in the Dryer

Despite your best intentions, accidents can happen. If you’ve accidentally put a silk garment in the dryer with heat, don’t panic! Here’s what you should do:

  1. Remove the item immediately: As soon as you realize your mistake, stop the dryer and remove the silk item.
  2. Assess the damage: Check for shrinkage, discoloration, or other signs of damage.
  3. Attempt to reshape: If the item has shrunk, try gently stretching and reshaping it while it’s still damp.
  4. Consult a professional: For valuable or severely damaged silk items, consider taking them to a professional dry cleaner or silk specialist for evaluation and potential restoration.

While it’s not a guarantee, there’s a chance you can salvage your silk garment if you act quickly and follow these steps.

Special Considerations

As with any fabric care, there are a few special considerations to keep in mind when drying silk without heat:

Can I Tumble Dry a Silk Pillowcase with No Heat?

Yes, you can tumble dry silk pillowcases on the no-heat setting, but it’s crucial to take the following precautions:

  • Place the pillowcase(s) in a mesh bag or a clean, breathable pillowcase to prevent abrasion and tangling.
  • Check frequently during the drying cycle and remove the pillowcase(s) as soon as they’re partially dry to avoid over-drying.
  • Consider air drying silk pillowcases on a drying rack or clothesline for extra safety.

Curiosity got the better of me, so I investigated the effects of tumble drying silk, and here’s what I found.

silk wrap with acid free paper

How to Dry Silk Sheets in the Dryer

Drying silk sheets in the dryer with the no-heat setting is possible, but it requires extra caution due to their larger size. Here are some tips:

  1. Separate the silk sheets from other fabrics and dry them alone.
  2. Use a large-capacity dryer, if available, to prevent excessive wrinkling and tangling.
  3. Check the sheets frequently and remove them when partially dry to prevent over-drying.
  4. For added protection, consider placing the sheets in a large, breathable laundry bag or pillowcase.
  5. Alternatively, air drying silk sheets on a drying rack or clothesline is generally safer and recommended.

Removing Wrinkles from Silk in the Dryer

While the no-heat setting can help remove wrinkles from silk, it’s essential to be cautious and monitor the process closely. Here are some tips:

  • Use the shortest drying cycle possible, checking frequently to avoid over-drying.
  • Place a few clean, dry towels or dryer balls in the dryer to help fluff and smooth out the silk garment.
  • Be aware that excessive tumbling can cause silk fibers to abrade and damage.
  • Consider using a garment steamer or a cool iron as an alternative for delicate silk items, following the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
silk material close up shot

Genuine vs. Fake Silk

When it comes to drying, it’s crucial to understand the difference between genuine silk and synthetic or blended fabrics labeled as “silk-like.” Here’s a comparison table:

FabricCare Instructions
Genuine SilkRequires delicate care and handling, should be kept away from high heat and excessive agitation, and is best air-dried or dried using the no-heat setting with caution.
Synthetic “Silk-like” FabricsCan typically withstand more heat and agitation, is generally safer to tumble dry on low heat according to care labels, but still, caution should be used to avoid over-drying.

When in doubt, always check the care labels and treat genuine silk with extra caution when drying.

If you’re dealing with a valuable or delicate silk item, it’s best to consult a professional dry cleaner or silk specialist for guidance.


Drying silk in the dryer without heat is possible, but it requires careful consideration and adherence to best practices.

By following the guidelines outlined in this article, you can safely use the no-heat setting to dry your silk garments, sheets, and pillowcases while minimizing the risk of damage.

Remember, silk is a luxurious and delicate fabric that demands special care. Always check garment care labels and err on the side of caution when it comes to drying silk.

If you’re ever unsure or dealing with a valuable silk item, it’s best to consult a professional dry cleaner or silk specialist.

With the right techniques and a bit of patience, you can enjoy the beauty and longevity of your silk pieces for years to come.

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