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

Silk jackets are luxurious additions to any wardrobe. However, their delicate fabric requires special care to maintain their beautiful look and feel.

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll walk you through the proper techniques for washing silk jackets by hand or machine.

Follow these steps to keep your silk jackets looking their absolute best for years to come.

beige silk jacket

Why Proper Washing is Essential for Silk Jackets

Silk is a natural protein fiber that comes from silkworm cocoons. It has a smooth, luxurious texture that feels wonderful against the skin.

However, silk is also extremely fragile and prone to damage if not cared for properly.

Improper washing can cause silk garments to lose their shape, discolor, shrink, tear, or develop rough patches.

By learning the proper hand and machine washing methods, you can safely clean your silk jackets without causing harm.

This will help preserve the quality, extend the life, and retain the beautiful drape and sheen of your silk pieces.

Step 1: Checking the Care Label

Before washing, always consult the care label sewn inside your silk jacket.

The manufacturer’s instructions supersede any general washing guidelines. Care labels provide vital information such as:

  • Intended washing method: Hand wash, dry clean, or machine wash
  • Maximum water temperature
  • Any specific detergents or care products recommended
silk fabric care label

Adhering to the care label is the best way to prevent damage when cleaning.

If your silk jacket does not have a care label, proceed with caution using the hand wash method outlined below.

Step 2: Materials and Detergents for Washing Silk

Hand-washing silk requires minimal special products:

  • A clean basin or sink for water
  • Mild liquid detergent formulated for delicates or silk
  • A soft towel
  • A garment drying rack or flat surface
silk garment basin wash technique

For machine washing, you’ll also need:

  • A mesh garment bag
  • A delicate or silk laundry cycle setting
delicate cycle for silk in washing machine

Selecting the Right Detergent

Choose a gentle silk detergent without dyes, bleaches, or fragrances that could irritate the fabric. Liquid silk detergents are preferable to powder detergents.

Some examples of products safe for washing silk:

  • The Laundress Silk Shampoo
  • Eucalan Delicate Wash
  • Soak Wash
  • Kookaburra Lux Silk Wash

If you cherish your silk items as I do, you’ll love Heritage Park Laundry Detergent (link to Amazon). It gently cares for the fabric, preserving its natural beauty and prolonging its life.

heritage park silk detergent silk clothes cleaning

Avoid regular laundry detergent, as the surfactants are too harsh for silk’s delicate fibers.

Step 3: Hand Washing Method

If the care label does not specify “dry clean only”, washing silk jackets by hand is the safest, most gentle cleaning method. Here is a step-by-step guide:

  1. Fill a basin or sink with lukewarm water. The water should feel slightly warm, not hot, to the touch. Hot water can cause silk to shrink or bleed color.
  2. Add a small amount of mild detergent. Start with approximately 1 teaspoon of detergent for a medium load. Gently swish the water to dissolve and distribute the detergent.
  3. Fully submerge the jacket in the detergent solution. Allow it to soak for 1-3 minutes so the detergent can begin penetrating the fibers.
  4. Gently agitate the jacket for 2-3 minutes. Do not twist, wring, or scrub the fabric. Agitate by moving it gently up and down in the water.
  5. Drain the water and rinse the jacket thoroughly. You may need to repeat rinsing 2-3 times until all detergent residue is removed. Rinsing with cool water helps prevent color bleeding.
  6. Roll the jacket in a towel to gently absorb excess moisture. Do not wring or twist the silk.
  7. Lay the jacket flat on a clean towel or drying rack. Reshape the garment and smooth any wrinkles with your hands. Allow the jacket to air dry completely before wearing or storing.
filling basin with water
measuring heritage park detergent in cup
hand laundering beige silk cloth
hand wash care for beige silk items
silk garment drying with absorbent towel
towel wrap for drying silk material

Step 4: Machine Washing Silk Jackets

If the care label specifies “machine washable”, you may wash your silk jacket in the washing machine using the following precautions:

  • Place the jacket in a mesh garment bag and zip it securely. This prevents friction damage.
  • Wash on a gentle or delicate cycle with cool water.
  • Select a mild detergent made specifically for delicates or silk.
  • Choose an extra slow spin speed. High spin speeds can damage silk fibers and seams.
  • Do not wash your silk jacket with other garments to avoid color transfer or snagging.
  • Lay the jacket flat to dry; never put silk jackets in the dryer.
mesh bag for silk garments in washing machine

Step 5: Drying Your Silk Jacket

It’s crucial to dry your silk jacket flat to prevent stretching and distortion of the fibers.

Follow these expert tips for drying:

  • Lay the washed jacket smoothly on top of a clean, dry towel.
  • Reshape and smooth any wrinkles with your hands. Make sure the jacket retains its natural shape as it dries.
  • Do not hang silk jackets on wire hangers or clotheslines to dry, as the weight can stretch the shoulders.
  • Avoid direct heat and sunlight which can fade colors. Dry indoors or in the shade.
  • Allow the jacket to air dry completely before wearing or storing. This may take several hours.
  • Once totally dry, your silk jacket is ready to wear or store!

Never tumble dry silk garments, even on low heat. The texture and shape will be ruined.

white silk fabric fineness

Step 6: Restoring Silk’s Smooth Texture

After washing, silk may feel slightly stiff, rough, or lose its signature luster. Here are some tips to restore silk’s beautiful drape and shine:

  • Use a steamer to gently smooth out wrinkles or roughness. Do not actually touch the nozzle to the fabric.
  • For added softness, place a few soft towels in the dryer. Once warm, wrap your silk jacket in the towels for 10 minutes. The warmth will relax the fibers.
  • For sheen, hang the jacket in a steamy bathroom or lightly press with an iron on low heat through a cloth.

With proper technique, washed silk regains its luxurious feel.

See the best practices for washing silk skirts in this comprehensive guide.

Can Silk Jackets Get Wet? Water Exposure Tips

Pure silk repels water nicely when newly finished but can become waterlogged over time. If your silk jacket gets soaked in the rain, follow these steps:

  • Blot excess water immediately with towels. Do not rub, wring, or twist.
  • Allow the jacket to air dry naturally on a flat surface away from direct heat.
  • Once dry, use steam or a warm iron to smooth out any water spots or wrinkles.
  • Rewash the jacket soon after water exposure to remove any soap, dirt, or odors from the rain.
blot removal technique on silk

While silk can handle a gentle rain shower, it’s best to avoid excess water exposure which degrades the fibers over time.

Fixing Minor Damages After Washing

With proper technique, washing should not damage your silk jacket. However, accidents occasionally happen. Here is how to fix common mishaps:

Snags or Pulled ThreadsCarefully trim loose threads with small scissors. Do not pull. Apply a dot of clear nail polish on raw snagged areas to prevent unraveling.
WrinklesLightly iron on the inside of the garment on a low “silk” setting. Use a cloth to avoid shine marks.
ShrinkageSoak the item in lukewarm water with a hair conditioner to relax the fibers, then reshape and air dry flat.
FadingHand wash with a tiny amount of white vinegar added to the rinse water to brighten colors. Sunlight also naturally restores dye over time.
Loose ButtonsRe-sew any loose buttons neatly using silk thread to match the garment.

With practice, you can wash silk jackets at home without mishaps!

beige silk material luxury

When To Send Silk Jackets to the Dry Cleaner

While it’s possible to hand wash silk jackets safely at home, dry cleaning is sometimes the better option. Consider sending your silk jacket to a professional cleaner in these cases:

  • The care label specifies “Dry Clean Only”. Always follow garment instructions.
  • Your jacket has ornamentation like beads, sequins, or embroidery that may dislodge if agitated in water.
  • You notice stubborn odors, stains, or discoloration that do not come out through home washing.
  • To preserve the shape and structure of tailored silk jacket styles with lining and inner construction.
  • You wish to minimize handling and just want the convenience of professional service.

Ask any dry cleaner about their experience with silk before entrusting them with your investment pieces.

Get tips on how to wash silk gowns while preserving their elegance.

Key Tips to Avoid Damaging Silk Jackets

Follow these guidelines when washing and wearing silk to prevent permanent damage:

  • Check and adhere to the care label instructions every time.
  • Wash silk only when necessary to preserve the fibers. Spot clean when possible.
  • Protect silk from jewelry, purse straps, and abrasions from zippers, buttons, and embellishments that could snag or damage the delicate fabric.
  • Keep silk out of direct sunlight to prevent fading.
  • Store folded silk in breathable garment bags, not plastic. Allow room for air circulation.
  • Hand wash stains immediately with cold water to prevent setting in. Avoid vigorously rubbing.
  • Never use bleach, fabric softener, or regular detergent made for cotton on silk.
  • Dry silk completely lying flat and away from direct sunlight before storing or wearing to prevent mildew.
  • Iron only as needed, on low heat, using the inside of the garment or a protective cloth.
smoothing silk with iron

By learning proper handling and washing techniques for silk jackets, you can keep them looking their absolute best for many years.

Follow these tips and consult care labels for optimal results. With the right methods, washing and caring for silk at home is simple.


Silk jackets bring luxury, comfort, and style to any wardrobe when cared for properly. 

Although delicate, silk can be gently washed by hand or machine using the techniques outlined above.

By checking labels, selecting mild detergents, washing less frequently, and drying flat, silk retains its beauty and lasts for many years.

I hope these comprehensive tips give you the confidence to care for your silk jackets at home.

With quality materials and proper techniques, your silk jackets will become treasured staples that gracefully withstand the test of time.

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