How to Wash Mulberry Silk: A Comprehensive Care Guide

As a lover of fine fabrics like mulberry silk, I know how important it is to properly care for these delicate materials.

Washing and handling mulberry silk requires gentle techniques to preserve the quality and luster.

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about washing and caring for your mulberry silk pieces, from clothing to pillowcases.

With the right methods, you can keep your silks looking their absolute best for years to come.

timeless real silk collection

Preparing to Wash Mulberry Silk

Before washing, always check the care label on your mulberry silk items for any specific instructions.

Many times the tags will indicate “Dry Clean Only,” but some modern mulberry silks can be gently washed at home if done carefully.

Here are some tips when getting ready to wash mulberry silk:

  • Use a mesh bag: Placing your mulberry silks in a mesh wash bag will prevent the delicate fabrics from stretching and tearing during washing. Zippered silk bags are ideal.
  • Empty pockets: Check pockets on silk clothing and turn them inside out before washing. Remove any tissues, receipts, or other debris.
  • Close zippers, hooks, and eyes: Secure any fasteners, zippers, buttons, and other closures to prevent snagging during washing.
  • Brush off dirt: Use a soft brush to gently remove any dry dirt or debris from silk garments before washing.
  • Pre-treat any stains: If there are any visible stains or soiled areas, pre-treat them before washing. For food, oils, or makeup stains, use a bit of mild soap or stain remover. For perspiration stains, white vinegar works well. Dab gently and let the pre-treatment sit for 5-10 minutes before washing.
visible stain on silk textile
silk stain treatment with vinegar
blotting out stains on silk

Hand Washing Mulberry Silk

When it comes to washing high-quality mulberry silk pieces, hand washing is always the most gentle and effective method. Here is my tried-and-true technique:

What You’ll Need

  • Tub, sink, or basin for washing
  • Non-alkaline, silk-safe detergent or soap
  • White vinegar
  • Soft sponges or cloths
  • Soft towel for drying

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Fill a tub with cool water and add a small amount of detergent. Use enough water to fully submerge the silk item.
  2. Place the silk piece in the water and allow it to soak for 2-3 minutes. Swish lightly.
  3. Drain the first wash water and refill the basin. Add a splash of vinegar to help rinse out the detergent.
  4. Allow the silk to soak again for 2-3 minutes. Rinse and drain.
  5. Refill with clean, cool water for the final rinse. Let the silk soak another 2-3 minutes.
  6. Drain the basin and press very gently on the silk item to remove excess water. Do not wring or twist.
  7. Lay the silk piece on a soft towel and roll it up to absorb moisture. Unroll, smooth out and allow to fully air dry.
water flowing into basin
gently cleaning beige silk fabric by hand
hand laundering beige silk cloth
hand washing process for beige silk
basin water draining
silk garment drying with absorbent towel
towel wrap for drying silk material
air drying wet silk garment

Handling Tips

  • Always use a light touch when handling wet mulberry silk. Vigorous agitation can damage the fibers.
  • Keep the silk item flat during the soak and rinse cycles. Don’t ball up the fabric.
  • The water temperature should be cool but not cold. Very hot water can cause the dye to bleed and fade.

With this gentle hand-washing method, your mulberry silks will come out clean and refreshed!

Using a Washing Machine for Mulberry Silk

While hand washing is ideal, you can machine wash certain 100% mulberry silk items if done carefully on a delicate cycle. Here are my top tips:

  • Use a mesh bag. A zippered mesh bag is a must to prevent tearing, stretching, and tangling.
  • Wash on a delicate or hand-wash cycle. Select the gentlest cycle without agitation. Some washers have a silk specialty cycle.
  • Skip the dryer. Air dry silks instead to prevent heat damage.
  • Cool water only. Use cold or cool water and skip any hot rinse cycles.
  • No bleach. Bleach and fabric softener will damage the silk fibers.
  • Minimal detergent. Use a tiny amount of mild detergent made for delicates and silks.
  • Additional rinse cycle. Run an extra cool rinse cycle to remove all traces of detergent.
delicate cycle for silk in washing machine
laundry mesh bag silk washing in machine
mesh bag for silk garments in washing machine

With the right precautions, machine washing can safely clean marginal amounts of body oils and perspiration from silk clothing and sleepwear.

For heavy soiling, hand washing is still highly recommended. Never machine wash silk pieces with embellishments, beading, or lace trims.

Choosing the Right Detergent for Mulberry Silk

The proper detergent is critical for keeping mulberry silk lush and brightly colored after washing. Here’s what to look for:

Key Features of a Silk Detergent

  • pH-neutral formula
  • Free of bleaches, enzymes, dyes, and perfumes
  • Designed for delicate and fine fabrics
  • Non-alkaline with neutral pH between 6.5 and 7.5
  • Gentle cleansers like glycerin or alkyl polyglucoside
  • No optical brighteners
best silk detergents

Recommended Options

  • Silk and fine fabric detergents: These specialized blends are ideal for mulberry silk. Examples: The Laundress Silk & Fine Fabric Wash, Kookaburra Luxury Silk Wash.
  • Baby shampoo: The gentle formulas work well for hand washing silk. Dilute with water before use.
  • Mild glycerin soap: Look for castile or glycerin soap with as few additives as possible.
  • White vinegar: Adds mild acidity to rinse water which is beneficial for silk. Use a small amount of vinegar in the rinse water, not exceeding a 1:4 vinegar-to-water ratio.

Heritage Park Laundry Detergent (link to Amazon) is my go-to for silk items. It’s incredibly gentle on the delicate fabric, ensuring that my silks last longer and stay gorgeous.

using heritage park detergent for silk washing

No matter which detergent you choose, avoid regular laundry detergents and soaps with added perfumes, dyes, whiteners, and harsh surfactants.

Stick to the most gentle, hypoallergenic formulas suitable for sensitive skin.

See alternative methods for washing silk without detergent in this helpful guide.

Drying Mulberry Silk

Proper drying is key to maintaining the luxurious look and feel of mulberry silk. Follow these methods:

  • Lay flat to dry: Smooth out the silk piece on a drying rack or towels laid flat. Do not hang silks to dry as the weight can stretch and distort the shape.
  • Avoid direct sunlight: Direct sun exposure can fade dyes and damage silk fibers. Dry indoors or in the shade.
  • Skip the dryer: Tumble drying will cause wrinkles, pull the fabric out of shape, and damage embroidery, beading, and lace accents.
  • Use a fan: Circulating air speeds up the drying time. Point a fan towards laid-flat silk items.
  • Iron while slightly damp: Wait until the silk is about 90% dry and then touch up with an iron on low heat if needed (see ironing tips below).
laying wet silk out for air drying

With careful laying flat to dry and circulating air, your hand-washed mulberry silks will dry wrinkle-free and ready to wear!

Ironing and Storing Mulberry Silk

Once washed and dried, a couple of finishing touches will help keep mulberry silks looking their absolute best:

Ironing Tips

  • Use low heat: Iron on the coolest silk setting. Avoid steam which can damage silk.
  • Iron damp silk: If needed, lightly iron when the silk is about 90% dry. Damp silk irons smoothly.
  • Use a press cloth: Place a smooth cotton cloth between the iron and the silk. Never apply direct heat.
  • Avoid pulling: Don’t vigorously tug on the silk when ironing. Let gravity do the work with light downward strokes.
  • Check trims: Make sure any embellishments like beading or sequins are heat-safe before ironing.
smoothing silk with iron

Storage Tips

  • Use silk garment bags: Store washed silk clothing folded loosely in breathable silk storage bags.
  • Hang padded hangers: For silk blouses, dresses, and suits, use hangers with padded shoulders to prevent stretching at stress points.
  • Lie flat: Store silk garments lying flat when possible to prevent hanger marks.
  • Avoid plastic: Plastic bins and garment bags trap moisture and can damage silk over time.

With proper ironing and storage methods, your mulberry silks will stay wrinkle-free and ready to wear for each use.

Timeless classics like silk blouses and cocktail dresses will maintain their beauty.

Special Considerations

Mulberry silk requires gentle care, but if you follow my recommended washing and handling methods you can confidently enjoy your silk pieces and keep them looking their best.

Here are answers to some common care questions:

How often should you wash mulberry silk?

For garments, 2-3 wears between washes is ideal. Pillowcases and sheets can go 1 week between washes. Wash as needed based on odor, stains, or yellowing. Avoid over-washing.

natural silk fabric detail

Does mulberry silk shrink?

Mulberry silk does not typically shrink if washed properly in cool water and laid flat to dry. Exposing silk to high heat can damage fibers and cause shrinking.

What is the difference between 100% silk and mulberry silk?

Mulberry silk is made exclusively from silkworms fed a diet of mulberry leaves. The highest quality silk uses only the long filament produced by the Bombyx mori silkworm.

What are some tips for washing mulberry silk pillowcases?

  • Always wash two pillowcases together to prevent tangling and twisting of the delicate fabric.
  • Check zippers and enclosures are fully closed before washing. Many silk pillowcases have hidden zippers.
  • Handwash is highly recommended for pillowcases to preserve the fine mulberry silk threads.
  • Use extra care when moving wet silk pillowcases. The wet fabric is most vulnerable to snags and tears.
  • Roll up pillowcases in a towel to absorb excess moisture before drying. Do not wring or twist silk pillowcases when wet.
  • Lay flat on a non-stick drying rack or dry cotton towels to air dry. Smooth out wrinkles.
  • Once fully dry, steam pillowcases before putting them back on the pillows to restore a smooth, lustrous finish.
  • Wash silk pillowcases after one week of use, or sooner if needed. Perspiration and facial products can soil the fabric.
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I hope these comprehensive tips give you the confidence to properly care for your treasured mulberry silk clothing, pillowcases, and accessories.

With a gentle approach to washing, drying, and storage, your mulberry silk pieces will maintain their vibrancy and feel for many years of wear.

Always check and follow fabric care labels, and when in doubt, err on the side of caution with delicate handling.

With the proper techniques, you can keep your mulberry silk looking lustrous and lovely for the long term.

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