Can I Wash Silk at 60 Degrees Celsius? Essential Care Tips

Silk is one of the most delicate and luxurious fabrics. It has a smooth, soft texture that requires gentle care. When it comes to washing silk, temperature is a key factor.

The common question many have is: can I wash silk in 60°C water? The short answer is no, as silk is best washed in lukewarm or cool water.

In this article, we’ll dive into the specifics of washing silk, from understanding the fabric’s properties to proper techniques.

I’ll explain the risks of washing silk at high temps and recommend safer alternatives.

My goal is to equip you with the knowledge and best practices to keep your silk items looking and feeling fabulous. Let’s get started!

machine washing silk 60 degrees

Understanding Silk Fabric

Silk has been cherished for thousands of years as a fabric that drapes beautifully and feels heavenly against the skin. But why does temperature matter so much when caring for silk?

  • Silk fiber comes from silkworm cocoons, spun into a delicate protein-based thread.
  • The proteins in silk are sensitive and can be easily damaged by high heat.
  • Exposing silk to temperatures above 30°C can cause:
    • Fading of dyes and prints
    • Shrinkage and distortion
    • Weakening and breakage of fibers

This explains why temperature control is critical for keeping silk in the best condition possible. Next, we’ll explore ideal washing temperatures.

The Ideal Washing Temperature for Silk

Most fabric care experts recommend washing silk in cool or lukewarm water below 40°C. This protects the fragile silk proteins from damage induced by heat.

In comparison, washing at 60°C exceeds the recommended temperature range for silk.

60°C water is common for washing cotton, linen, and other resilient fabrics, but is too hot for delicate silk items.

The ideal washing temperature for silk is around 30°C. This gently cleans the fabric without the risk of high heat damage.

washing machine silk delicates setting
FabricRecommended Washing Temperature
SilkBelow 40°C (Cool to Lukewarm)
WoolBelow 40°C (Cool to Lukewarm)
CottonUp to 60°C (Warm to Hot)
LinenUp to 60°C (Warm to Hot)

As shown in the table above, silk and wool require cooler water temperatures than cotton. 

Always check fabric care labels for the manufacturer’s washing guidelines. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and use a lower temp.

Risks of Washing Silk at High Temperatures

Now that we’ve covered proper washing temperatures, let’s discuss the risks of washing silk in 60°C water:

  • Permanent shrinkage – Silk fibers and fabrics are elastic. Heat causes them to tighten and contract.
  • Loss of sheen & luster – High heat degrades the smooth, glossy surface of silk.
  • Dye bleeding & fading – Many dyes are heat-sensitive. Colors will bleed and fade under hot water.
  • Weakening of fibers – Heat damages the molecular structure of silk, causing tears and breakage.
  • Color & print distortion – Heat alters the shape of prints and patterns on silk.
washing machine method for red silk

To illustrate the point, here is an example…

  • Washing a vibrant red 100% silk blouse at 60°C could cause the dye to bleed, resulting in a pale pinkish color. The delicate embroidered details may also become misshapen.

Clearly, high temperatures pose a huge risk of damaging your silk items. So what are the safer alternatives?

Learn the effects of hot water on silk in my detailed analysis of washing silk with hot water.

Alternatives to Washing Silk at 60 Degrees

Fortunately, there are easy options for washing silk without using hot 60°C water:

  • Hand wash in cool or lukewarm water below 40°C. This is the most gentle method.
  • Use the delicates or wool cycle on your washing machine, around 30°C.
  • Select a low-temperature setting on your machine, like Cold/30.
  • Add items to a larger load of low-temperature laundry to dilute any heat.
  • Use a wash bag for extra protection during the cycle.

The cool water tap setting is also fine. While not excessively hot, lukewarm water still provides enough warmth to clean and dissolve detergents effectively.

The main goal is to keep the water temperature low enough to prevent silk damage. With some adjustments, your machine can handle silk safely in gentle settings.

Find out the impact of moderate heat in my article on washing silk at 40 degrees.

hand washing beige silk fabric in basin

Best Practices for Washing 100% Silk

Follow these best practices when washing high-quality 100% silk items:

General Guidelines

  • Check the garment’s care label – Some silks may have special instructions.
  • Pretreat any stains – Spot clean with a silk-safe pretreat solution.
  • Use a mesh wash bag – Adds protection from snags and friction.
  • Wash in cool or lukewarm water below 40°C – This is the safest temperature range.
  • Use a gentle, silk-safe detergent – Avoid regular detergents and bleach.
  • Handle gently when wet – Silk is delicate when saturated.
  • Lay flat to dry away from direct sunlight – Prevents distorting the shape.
  • Lightly steam or iron when still damp – Helps restore sheen and smoothness.

For anyone with silk garments, Heritage Park Laundry Detergent (link to Amazon) is a must-try. It’s gentle on the fabric, yet powerful enough to remove any dirt or stains.

heritage park silk detergent silk clothes cleaning

For Hand Washing

  • Fill a sink with lukewarm water and diluted silk detergent.
  • Immerse the item and gently swish back and forth.
  • Drain the sink and refill to rinse with clean water.
  • Support the item’s shape as you lift it out.
  • Roll the item in a towel to absorb moisture.
  • Lay flat on a drying rack or padded surface.
washing beige silk by hand in basin

For Machine Washing

  • Select the Delicates or Wool cycle at 30°C or lower.
  • Use a wash bag to protect the silk.
  • Wash only 2-3 items at a time for gentler cleaning.
  • Remove promptly after the cycle finishes.
  • Roll in a towel before flat drying.
using laundry mesh bag for machine washing silk

Following these instructions will keep your silk looking luxurious wash after wash. The keys are using cool-to-lukewarm water and delicate settings.

Can You Wash Silk at 60 Degrees in a Washing Machine?

It’s best not to wash 100% silk items in a washing machine at temperatures of 60°C or higher. Even on a Gentle/Delicate cycle, water this hot can still damage the fabric.

However, washing silk in a front-loading washing machine is possible at lower temperatures. Here are some tips:

  • Select the Delicates, Wool, or Silk cycle. Most run at 30°C or less.
  • Choose a Cold/30 setting if possible. This mixes cold water with 30°C.
  • Use the Eco-mode, which uses less hot water overall.
  • Set the spin speed to low or medium. High speed can stress fabrics.
  • Wash only 2-3 garments at once so they move freely.
  • Use a mesh wash bag to prevent friction damage.
  • Pretreat any stains first.
  • Double-check care labels for additional instructions.
  • Remove items promptly after the cycle ends.
  • Dry flat, away from direct sun.
delicate cycle for silk in washing machine

With the right settings and precautions, machine washing can be safe for silk at lower temperatures.

But I do not recommend using any cycle that exceeds 40°C for true silk pieces. When in doubt, opt for hand washing instead.

What Fabrics Can Be Washed at 60 Degrees Celsius?

60°C is suitable for washing most cotton, linen, polyester, nylon, acrylic, and poly-cotton blend fabrics. These fibers are durable and heat-resistant enough to withstand hot water. 

Delicate fabrics like wool, silk, rayon, viscose, and spandex should always be washed in cooler water instead.

Check the garment’s care label for the manufacturer’s recommended washing temperature.

What Type of Silk Can Handle the Hottest Washing Temperatures?

Some silk blends with synthetic fibers like polyester can tolerate warmer water temperatures, but it is generally recommended to wash at lower temperatures for better care.

But true 100% silk including chiffon, charmeuse, or habotai are more delicate and should be washed below 40°C. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and use a cooler setting.

silk fabric basin hand washing process


I hope this guide gives you the confidence to properly care for your silk garments and fabrics. To summarize:

  • Silk is a delicate protein fiber that requires gentle washing under 40°C.
  • Washing at 60°C can shrink, fade, and permanently damage silk.
  • Always hand or machine-wash silk in cool, lukewarm, or cold water settings.
  • Follow other best practices like using a wash bag, silk detergent, and proper drying techniques.

With the right methods, you can keep your silk items looking and feeling luxurious for many years. Never hesitate to reach out if you have any other silk laundering questions!

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