How to Wash Silk Skirts: Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

Caring for your silk clothing helps preserve the fabric’s sheen, drape, and longevity. For many, silk skirts are investment pieces to be cherished for years.

By learning proper techniques, you can keep your silk looking fabulous and feel silky soft wash after wash.

I’ll walk you through everything you need to know, from decoding care labels to hand washing step-by-step.

You’ll also learn when machine washing is an option and how to dry and store silk safely. Let’s start pampering your silk!

pristine white silk cloth

Pre-Wash Care: Preparing Your Silk Skirt

Before just tossing your silk skirt into the wash, take a few preparatory steps:

Check the Care Label

  • Care labels offer washing guidance directly from the manufacturer. Look for symbols indicating “Hand Wash Cold” or “Dry Clean Only.”
  • If the label is missing or you purchased the skirt secondhand, opt for hand washing in lukewarm water.
silk fabric care label

Spot Clean Stains

  • Pre-treat any stains on your silk skirt before washing. Dab the stain with a small amount of mild detergent and cool water. Never aggressively rub the fabric.
  • For stubborn stains, try an organic stain remover formulated for delicate fabrics. Test on an inconspicuous area first.
blot removal technique on silk

Consider Pre-Treating

  • Heavily soiled garments may require pre-treating before hand washing in the sink.
  • Fill your sink with lukewarm water and a silk-safe detergent. Allow the skirt to soak for 5-10 minutes before hand washing. The detergent helps loosen soils.

Now that your skirt is prepped, it’s time to learn hands-on silk-washing techniques.

Washing Silk Skirts by Hand

Hand washing is the gold standard care method for silk skirts. By washing silk by hand, you have total control over the process for the most gentle clean. Follow these steps:

Assemble Your Supplies

  • Delicate lingerie wash or soap formulated for silk
  • Two washbasins or sinks; one for washing, one for rinsing
  • Soft towels
  • Garment drying rack
  • One tablespoon of mild detergent

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.

manually washing silk fabrics in basin

Fill Your Sink

  • Plug your first sink and fill it with lukewarm water; around 85°F.
  • Add a tablespoon of your chosen silk detergent and agitate until dissolved. The water should feel slick to the touch.
filling basin with water

Submerge and Wash

  • Fully submerge your silk skirt in the sudsy water. Allow it to absorb water for a minute.
  • Gently move the skirt up and down to circulate the water through the fabric. Do not twist, wring, or scrub the silk.
hand laundering beige silk cloth
hand washing process for beige silk

Drain and Rinse

  • Drain the first sink and fill your second sink with cool, clean water for rinsing.
  • Transfer the skirt to the rinse water. Move it up and down to rinse away all the soap.
  • Drain the sink and repeat the rinse cycle if needed until water runs clear.

Dry Flat

  • Lay the wet skirt flat on a towel. Gently roll the towel to extract excess moisture from the skirt.
  • Transfer to a drying rack, smoothing out the fabric. Allow to fully air dry.
laying silk on towel to dry
silk cloth drying on towel

By hand washing your silk skirt, you safely clean it without risk of damage from machine washing.

For heavily stained or dirty silk skirts, however, using a washing machine is an option if done carefully.

Learn effective methods for washing silk tops and keeping them looking great.

Using the Washing Machine for Silk Skirts

While hand washing is ideal, the washing machine is a time-saving option for thoroughly cleaning filthy silk skirts. Follow these rules of the road for machine washing success:

  • Choose a front-loading washing machine: The tumbling action is gentler than top-loaders.
  • Wash on the delicates or hand wash cycle: Lower agitation helps prevent rips.
  • Use lukewarm water: Hot water can fade dyes and damage silk. Stick to lukewarm temps.
  • Skip the fabric softener: It leaves behind a coating that impedes silk’s absorbency.
  • Invest in a mesh garment bag: This protects silk from snags during the wash cycle.
  • Air dry only: Machine drying can shrink and warp silk fabric.
washing machine silk care with mesh bag
delicate cycle for silk in washing machine

With the right practices, your silk skirt can come out of the washing machine unscathed. However, frequent machine washing does accelerate wear.

For the longest lifespan, hand washing is best for your silk clothes.

Drying and Ironing Silk Skirts

Drying and ironing are the final steps to refresh your silk. Handle silk gently here as well:

Drying Silk Skirts

  • Lay flat on a drying rack or towel. Allow the skirt to fully air dry.
  • You can speed up drying time using a fan to circulate air. Just don’t aim it directly at the fabric.
  • Avoid direct sunlight, which can fade dyes. Dry indoors or in the shade.

Ironing Silk Fabric

  • Iron silk only if needed on the lowest setting. Test on an inconspicuous area first.
  • Place a cotton press cloth between the iron and silk. This prevents shine damage.
  • Iron when slightly damp for easier smoothing; spray with water if needed.
smoothing silk with iron

Take it slow when drying and ironing to prevent irreversible heat damage to your silk skirt.

Dry Cleaning Silk Skirts

Some silk skirts require professional dry cleaning, like:

  • Heavily embellished silk: Hand washing may snag on beading, rhinestones, etc.
  • Silk with lining: Dry cleaners can thoroughly clean the lining and inner construction.
  • Old or fragile silk: Garments with weak spots need a pro’s gentle touch.
  • Stain-prone silk: Dry cleaners have access to strong solvents that remove tough stains.

When evaluating if dry cleaning is best, consider the fabric’s condition and your confidence in hand washing it. Delicate silk in pristine condition is better off hand-washed at home.

Choosing a Dry Cleaner

  • Ask about their experience with silk. Do they clean silk in-house?
  • Request that they hand-press silk rather than machine press.
  • If you must machine wash first, ask them to skip the pre-treating process.

With the right dry cleaner, you can safely freshen up silk pieces at home.

white beige silk fabric combination

Maintenance and Storage

Protect your silk investment by caring for it between wears:

  • After hand washing, steam silk clothing while still slightly damp to relax wrinkles. Use an at-home garment steamer on low heat.
  • Stick to non-oil-based sprays for wrinkle release, like vinegar-water mixes. Oil attracts dirt over time.
  • Store washed silk in a breathable garment bag. Allow it to fully dry before storing.
  • Keep silk in a dark, cool closet away from direct light, which can fade fabric over time.

With proper maintenance habits, your silk stays beautiful wash after wash.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Now that you know the silk-washing rules, here are some pitfalls to avoid:

  • Machine drying, which destroys silk’s elasticity via heat damage
  • Using chlorine bleach, which yellows and weakens silk fibers
  • Wringing out silk, leading to rips and tears
  • Storing silk wrinkled or damp, causing mildew risk
  • Ironing silk at the highest heat setting potentially scorches the fabric
  • Skipping pre-treatment of stains, setting them permanently

I made all these mistakes myself starting out! Learning best practices for your delicates helps them last.

refined beige silk fabric

Troubleshooting: Solutions for Common Silk Washing Complications

Silk can be finicky to wash. But there are fixes for the most common laundry mishaps! Refer to this table for troubleshooting washing issues with your silk skirt:

Color BleedingDye from a darker color bleeds onto a lighter silk skirt in the wash– Wash dark and light silks separately
– Add 1/4 cup white vinegar to rinse water to help set dyes
Unpleasant OdorsMusty or stale smells lingering in the silk fabric– Add 1 tbsp baking soda to wash water
– Soak in diluted white vinegar (1 part vinegar + 3 parts water) for 30 minutes prior to washing
WrinklingInsufficient rinsing leaves detergent residue that stiffens silk– Ensure detergent is fully rinsed by doing 2-3 cool water rinse cycles
– While damp, lightly steam or iron on low heat
Snags and PullsCatching delicate silk fabric on jewelry or rough surfaces– Secure loose threads with fine sewing or a small drop of clear nail polish
– Avoid wearing jewelry that could snag silk while laundering
ShrinkingHigh heat from drying or ironing causes silk fibers to tighten– Skip the heat altogether! Air dry instead and, if possible, skip ironing
– If you must iron, use the steam setting at the lowest temperature
Dye TransferDirect contact with wet newspaper print or dark fabrics– Wash and dry silk separately from darks and newspaperImmediately rinse dye transfer under cool water to minimize staining

With some tweaks to your washing routine, you can get your silk back into tip-top shape. 

Always handle silk gently and let it fully air dry to prevent complications. Pay attention while washing to catch issues early.

Learn how to wash silk jackets properly for lasting wear and style.

elegant beige silk fabric on wooden table


I hope this beginner’s guide takes the mystery out of washing silk skirts. While silk requires gentle care, the fabric rewards you with lasting beauty when cared for properly.

Hand washing truly is best for pampering your silk clothing. But occasional machine washing or dry cleaning revive silk safely too.

Remember to check care labels, pre-treat stains, wash in cool water, and lay flat to dry.

With this simple routine, you can keep your silk investment pieces looking luxurious for years of wear.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *