How to Wash Silk Curtains: A Complete Home Guide

Properly caring for silk curtains is important for preserving their beauty and texture. 

Mishandling them during washing can lead to shrinkage, snags, and even permanent water stains.

By following the tips in this guide, you’ll be able to clean your silk curtains safely and leave them looking freshly pressed and vibrant.

Whether your curtains are 100% silk or a faux silk blend, it’s essential to check the care label and follow the washing instructions precisely.

I’ll walk you through the best practices for hand washing, machine washing, drying, ironing, and professional dry cleaning of silk curtains.

You’ll also learn troubleshooting solutions for common silk curtain-washing mistakes. Let’s get started!

beige silk cloth spread on table

Pre-Wash Preparations for Silk Curtains

Before washing your silk curtains, there are a few key steps to take:

  • Check the care label – This will indicate if the curtains should be dry cleaned, hand washed, or machine washed. Following the recommendations is crucial.
  • Test for colorfastness – Silk can bleed dye when washed, so first wet a small hidden area and check if any color transfers onto the cloth. If the dyes run, hand wash in cold water instead.
  • Remove hardware – Take down the curtain rods, rings, and hooks. This prevents snagging.
  • Brush off dust and dirt – Use a soft brush to gently remove any loose particles before washing. This prevents abrasion damage.
  • Pre-treat any stains – For oil, coffee, or food stains, use a bit of mild detergent and dab gently with a sponge prior to washing. Never aggressively rub silk.
blot removal technique on silk

Handle your silk curtains with care right from the start, and you’ll be able to clean them without causing harm. Now let’s get into the washing methods.

Hand Washing Silk Curtains: A Safe Approach

Hand washing is the best way to clean delicate silk curtains and prevent damage. Here are the steps:

  • Fill a bathtub or large basin with cool water. The temperature should not exceed 20°C or 68°F.
  • Add a small amount of silk-specific liquid detergent or soap flakes. Products specifically designed for silk are recommended.
  • Allow the curtains to soak for 1-2 minutes so the detergent can start working on stains.
  • Gently move the curtains up and down to agitate without twisting, wringing, or scrubbing them.
  • Rinse thoroughly with multiple rounds of clean water to remove all soap residue.
  • Optional step: For heavily soiled curtains, fill another container with cool water and a bit of vinegar or fabric softener. Soak for a few minutes to further rinse.
  • Roll the curtains in a towel to absorb excess moisture. Avoid wringing or twisting.
filling basin with water
gently cleaning beige silk fabric by hand
hand laundering beige silk cloth
gentle hand rubbing of beige silk
drying silk textile using towel
laying silk on towel to dry
silk cloth drying on towel

I always recommend Heritage Park Laundry Detergent (link to Amazon) for silk items. It’s amazing how it preserves the fabric’s softness and color, making my silks look as good as new.

using heritage park detergent for silk washing

Hand washing with a mild detergent allows you to gently clean your silk curtains without risk of damage from machine washing. Always air-dry silk; heat can cause curtain shrinkage.

Machine Washing Silk Curtains: Dos and Don’ts

Can you machine wash 100% silk curtains? With caution, yes. Here are some best practices:

Recommended machine washing method:

  • Wash on the delicate or gentle cycle with cool water.
  • Use a mesh laundry bag to prevent tugging and tearing.
  • Choose a mild liquid detergent labeled safe for silk.
  • If possible, set the spin cycle to low. High-speed spinning can damage silk curtains.
delicate cycle for silk in washing machine

What to avoid in the machine:

  • No bleach or fabric softeners – these can discolor silk.
  • No hot water – heat causes silk to shrink and fade.
  • No regular or powder detergents – the chemicals are too harsh.
  • No fabric blending cycles – silk requires a delicate setting.

With the right precautions, machine washing can be done. But hand washing is safer to preserve the quality of fine silk curtains.

Washing Specific Types of Silk Curtains

Certain silk curtain fabrics require tailored washing methods. Here’s how to clean some common types:

Faux Silk Curtains:

  • Usually made of synthetic fibers like polyester
  • Sturdier than natural silk and less prone to shrinking
  • Can be machine washed on gentle and low heat-dried
  • Avoid high agitation levels

Dupioni Silk Curtains:

  • Made from thicker, irregular Dupioni silk threads
  • More textured appearance than other silks
  • Should be hand washed or dry cleaned only
  • Machine washing can damage the special weave

Adjust your washing technique based on the blend of fibers in your curtains. When in doubt, opt for more delicate care with hand washing.

Drying and Ironing Silk Curtains

Drying is just as important as washing when it comes to keeping silk curtains beautiful. Here are some dos and don’ts:


  • Do: Hang curtains to air dry on rust-proof rods or a clothesline. Allow to dry completely before rehanging.
  • Do: Iron silk on low heat if needed to remove wrinkles after washing. Place a cloth between the iron and silk.
  • Do: Use a garment steamer to refresh silk curtains between washes. Hold 15cm away and avoid spot steaming.
ironing method for silk textile


  • Don’t: Machine or tumble dry silk curtains. The heat will damage them.
  • Don’t: Over-iron silk. Too much heat can dull the fabric.

The key is to always air dry silk and use low heat settings when ironing or steaming. High temperatures lead to shrinkage and yellowing over time.

Discover how to wash silk carpets for longevity and visual appeal.

Professional Care: Dry Cleaning Silk Curtains

Many people opt to dry clean their silk curtains rather than risk damaging them with home washing. Here’s an overview of professional dry cleaning:

  • Detergents are gentler on silk than home washing products.
  • Machines agitate the curtains less roughly.
  • Professionals have specialized drying equipment.
  • Dry cleaning removes odors that may develop over time.
  • The process can be expensive compared to home washing.
  • Chemical residues may build up with repeated dry cleaning.

Dry cleaners that are specifically for delicate fabrics will provide the best results. Ask about their experience with silk when deciding where to take your curtains.

Overall, dry cleaning is gentler than DIY machine washing.

For extremely expensive or heirloom silk curtains, professional care may be the best way to clean them while minimizing risks.

refined beige silk fabric

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Even if you follow all the proper techniques, silk curtains can still become damaged during washing sometimes. Here are some common problems and solutions:

ShrinkingAvoid high-heat drying or washing in hot water. Pre-treat any new curtains by machine washing in cold on gentle to preshrink the fabric.
Lost sheenUse mild detergents without additives. Over-washing and harsh chemicals can strip the natural silk luster.
Snags or tearsHandle curtains gently and wash them in a laundry bag to prevent catching on machinery. Inspect for snags before rehanging and use small stitches to repair any holes or runs.
Bleeding dyesTest for colorfastness before washing. For bleeding dyes, immediately rinse in cold vinegar water to help stop colors from running.
Residue left on curtainsUse an extra rinse cycle and less detergent. Detergent buildup leaves a film.
Mold or mildewOnly air dry curtains fully before storing or rehanging. Moisture allows mildew to grow.

With some troubleshooting and adjustment of your washing and drying methods, you can get your silk curtains looking perfect again.

Maintaining Silk Curtains Between Washes

To minimize how often you need to wash your silk curtains, be sure to care for them in between cleanings:

  • Vacuum curtains regularly using a brush attachment to remove dust and dirt.
  • Steaming can refresh silk between washes. Keep the steamer 15cm away and avoid spots.
  • Alternate curtain panels on your rod to evenly distribute sunlight and wear.
  • Consider lining curtains to protect the silk from UV damage and soiling.
  • Storing fully dried curtains over the summer prevents creasing and yellowing.
  • Spot clean stains immediately with a damp cloth and mild soap.
blotting out stains on silk

With proper day-to-day maintenance, your silk curtains will stay beautiful for years before needing to be washed again!

Can I Use Laundry Detergent Pods to Hand-Wash Silk Curtains?

Laundry detergent pods are not recommended for washing silk curtains. The concentrated soap can be too harsh on delicate silks.

It’s better to use a mild liquid detergent made specifically for silk and other fine fabrics. 

Detergent pods may contain brightening agents or other additives that can damage or discolor your silk over time.

How Often Should I Wash My Silk Curtains?

Silk curtains generally only need washing once or twice a year. Washing too frequently can cause wear, tear, and fading.

Unless your curtains are exposed to grease, heavy dirt, or odors, you can likely go 12-18 months between washing if you regularly vacuum and spot clean.

Wash immediately if you notice new stains. But avoid over-washing, as this damages silk.

delicate hand wash for beige silk

Can I Wash Silk Curtain Linings Separately from the Panels?

Yes, washing silk curtain linings separately can be a good option. The linings often receive more dirt and grease from the windows.

Remove the lining and wash it first in cool water on a delicate cycle. Then wash the silk panels by hand afterwards if needed.

Be sure to thoroughly air dry the linings before reattaching them to the curtains. Washing linings separately allows you to clean them more frequently than the silk itself.

Check out this guide on washing silk face masks to keep them effective and gentle.


While silk curtains require delicate care, you can feel confident washing them at home with the tips provided in this guide.

Always check labels, handle gently, and avoid heat. Hand wash when possible, but machine washing on a gentle cycle with cool water can also work.

Dry fully by air, steam, or iron on low as needed, and dry clean occasionally for deep cleaning.

With the right silk curtain washing techniques, your luxurious drapes will continue looking fabulous for many years to come.

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