How to Wash Silk Bonnets: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

If you recently purchased your first silk bonnet, you may be wondering how to properly care for this delicate headwear.

As a longtime silk bonnet owner myself, I know it can be daunting trying to figure out the dos and don’ts of washing silk

But have no fear! In this comprehensive guide, I’ll walk you through the entire process of safely and effectively washing your silk bonnet by hand or machine.

refined beige silk fabric

Key Things to Consider Before Washing Your Silk Bonnet

Here are some key facts to keep in mind:

  • Silk is extremely delicate and prone to snags, pulls, shrinkage, and water stains.
  • Most silk bonnets are not machine washable. Always check clothing labels.
  • Handwashing with a gentle detergent is the safest washing method.
  • Avoid vigorous scrubbing, wringing, and high heat during drying.

Pre-Wash Preparations

Before washing your silk bonnet, follow these preparatory steps:

Inspect Care Labels

  • Carefully check all clothing labels for washing instructions. Follow accordingly.
  • If no instructions are provided, default to handwashing.

Gather Suitable Supplies

  • Mild liquid detergent or shampoo for delicates/silks. Avoid regular laundry detergents.
  • Large basin or sink for handwashing.
  • Soft cloth or sponge for gentle scrubbing.
  • Flat drying surface like a towel or mesh garment bag.

Check Bonnet Condition

  • Look for stains, snags, or other problems needing special attention.
  • Make note of heavily soiled areas to focus on during washing.
silk fabric stain removed

Step-by-Step Guide to Hand Washing Your Silk Bonnet

Handwashing is the traditional and most foolproof method for washing delicates like silk. Follow these steps:

1. Fill a Sink/Basin with Cool Water

  • Avoid hot water as it can damage silk. Lukewarm or cool water is best.
  • Submerge the bonnet, handling it gently with your hands to avoid snagging.
filling basin with water

2. Add a Small Amount of Mild Detergent

  • Recommended: Laundry detergent for delicates, woolens, or silk items specifically.
  • Alternatives: Baby shampoo, hair conditioner, or soap flakes.
  • Avoid regular laundry detergent, dish soap, etc. which may be too harsh.

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

3. Gently Move the Bonnet in the Water

  • Do not rub, wring, or scrub vigorously as this can damage the silk fibers.
  • Gently move the bonnet back and forth to evenly distribute the detergent.
hand washing process for beige silk
hand cleaning beige silk textiles

4. Drain the Water and Rinse

  • Drain the wash water then refill the basin with cool, clean water.
  • Continue gently moving the bonnet to rinse out all soap.
emptying water from basin

5. Drain and Repeat Rinsing

  • Drain again and repeat rinsing until water runs clear.
  • This ensures all detergent residue is removed.

6. Gently Press Out Excess Water

  • Do not wring or twist the bonnet to force out water.
  • Simply press between towels to absorb excess moisture.
towel wrap for drying silk material

7. Lay Flat to Air Dry

  • Lay the bonnet flat on a towel or mesh garment bag.
  • Do not hang silk items to dry as this can stretch and distort the shape.

Can Silk Bonnets Be Machine Washed?

While handwashing is always preferable for silk, machine washing is possible if done carefully:

  • Read clothing labels first – some silk bonnets may be machine washable if followed exactly.
  • Use a mesh garment bag to protect the bonnet during washing.
  • Wash on the delicate or handwash cycle with cool water.
  • Avoid high heat drying – air dry or use no/low heat settings.
delicate cycle for silk in washing machine
washing machine silk care with mesh bag

Even when machine washing, I recommend handwashing first if the bonnet is heavily soiled. And always air dry silk bonnets if possible rather than machine drying.

Caring for Your Silk Bonnet When Your Hair is Wet

A common predicament is needing to protect wet hair at night. Here are some tips:

  • Pat hair as dry as possible with a towel before putting on a silk bonnet.
  • Allow extra time for hair to air dry further before going to bed.
  • Use a hair dryer on a low, cool setting to gently dry hair a bit more before covering it with silk.
  • If hair is still quite damp, use a satin cap or plastic shower cap layered under the silk bonnet. This prevents direct contact of wet hair with silk.

While not ideal, a few nights of wet hair inside a silk bonnet won’t irreparably damage it. Just try to minimize moisture as much as possible.

This guide shows the proper techniques for washing silk scrunchies.

Why Regular Washing is Essential

It’s tempting to forgo washing your silk bonnet to be extra careful. But not washing regularly can cause more problems:

  • Oil and product buildup – Hair products and natural oils transfer to the fabric. This can leave a dull, greasy residue over time.
  • Bacteria and grime accumulation – Not washing facilitates the growth of bacteria, leading to hygiene issues and acne.
  • Fabric discoloration – Soiling, sweat stains, and other discoloration become very difficult to remove if left too long.
elegant beige silk fabric on wooden table

Here are my recommendations on how often to wash silk bonnets:

WeeklyIf worn nightly and used to protect styled hair.
BiweeklyIf worn occasionally or mainly inside out to protect hair at night.
MonthlyMinimum washing frequency even with light use.

Listen to your nose – if you notice odors, increase washing frequency.

Post-Wash Drying Tips for Silk Bonnets

Proper drying is key to maintaining the integrity of your silk bonnet after washing:

  • Lay flat to dry – Do not hang or bunch bonnets to dry. Allow ample space for the bonnet to lay flat undisturbed.
  • Avoid direct heat – Never use a clothes dryer, iron, or other direct heat source which can damage silk.
  • Use a fan – Circulating air speeds up drying time. Point a fan towards the drying bonnet – but not directly blowing on it.
  • Be patient – Silk takes longer to dry than cotton. Resist the urge to bunch or wring. Drying could take 6-12 hours.

Taking the time to let your silk bonnet thoroughly air dry will help it maintain its beautiful sheen and prevent damage.

Additional Tips for Ongoing Silk Bonnet Care

  • Store silk bonnets in breathable garment bags instead of plastic to prevent moisture buildup.
  • Use a seam ripper to gently remove any loose threads – avoid pulling them.
  • Consider using a silk pillowcase too – the slippery surface prevents friction damage to your bonnet.
  • Wash bonnets inside out when possible to maintain the outer appearance longer.
  • Steam silk bonnets on a low heat setting occasionally to remove odors and refresh the look.
  • Spot clean stains with a damp cloth and delicate soap instead of washing after each use.
silk fabric stain blotting method

Troubleshooting Common Silk Bonnet Washing Issues

Snags or pulled threadsAvoid catching loose threads on jewelry when putting on/taking off. Hand wash with extra care.
ShrinkagePre-treat any problem areas then hand wash in cool water and dry flat.
Water stainsDilute white vinegar and gently sponge on marks. Rinse and air dry.
Color transferPre-treat stained area with laundry detergent before washing. Wash and dry separately from other clothes.
Grease stainsRub a bit of talcum powder or cornstarch on the spot then brush off before washing as usual.

If issues persist after multiple washes, consider taking your silk bonnet to a dry cleaner who specializes in delicates. Handle with care.

Can I Use Hair Conditioner to Wash My Silk Bonnet?

Yes, you can use a hair conditioner to wash a silk bonnet. Hair conditioner is typically gentler than regular detergent.

Dilute the conditioner with some cool water and use it to gently cleanse your silk bonnet by hand. Rinse thoroughly afterwards.

Can I Wash My Silk Bonnet in the Washing Machine if I Put It in a Lingerie Bag?

It’s risky to machine wash silk bonnets even in a lingerie bag. The agitation of the washer can still cause rips, snags, and tears.

You’re better off handwashing your silk bonnets to be safe. If machine washing, use the most delicate cycle and air dry completely after.

best silk detergents

How Do I Dry My Silk Bonnet Quickly Between Wears?

It’s best not to speed dry silk since heat can damage the fabric. If you’re in a pinch, you can gently roll the bonnet in a towel to absorb excess moisture.

Then lay flat and allow to air dry fully before wearing again. Pointing a fan directly at the drying bonnet can also cut down on drying time.

Should I Wash My Silk Bonnet Before First Use?

It’s generally a good idea to wash a new silk bonnet before wearing it for the first time. When silk bonnets are manufactured, sizing chemicals are often applied to the fabric.

Washing a new bonnet will help remove any residual chemicals and ensure the bonnet is fully clean before it touches your hair.

Find out how to wash silk gloves to preserve their fit and feel.


Caring for your silk bonnet doesn’t have to be a scary chore. Just remember:

  • Always handwash first unless labels explicitly state machine washable.
  • Use only mild detergents and wash in cool water.
  • Avoid vigorous motions that can snag the delicate silk fabric.
  • Lay flat to dry away from direct sunlight.
  • Wash regularly to prevent buildup and maintain hygiene.
  • Air out and store properly between wears.

Follow these tips, and your silk bonnet will last for many years. While it may seem daunting at first, washing and caring for silk bonnets becomes second nature over time.

I hope this guide has equipped you with the knowledge to confidently care for your new silk bonnet.

No more guessing about the dos and don’ts of washing day. You now have all the tools to clean your bonnet properly and extend its lifespan.

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