Can Washable Silk Go in the Dryer? Essential Laundry Tips

I often get questions from friends and readers about the best practices for caring for silk.

As someone who loves the luxurious feel and drape of silk clothing, I totally get the dilemma many face when it comes to laundry day.

We want to keep our silk pieces looking and feeling fabulous for as long as possible. But can you safely put washable silk in the dryer?

What about drying options that won’t damage the delicate fibers? I’m answering all those questions and more in this ultimate guide to washing and drying silk.

white silk scarf gentle rinse

The Woes of Ruined Silk

We’ve all heard the horror stories of a beautiful silk blouse or dress that ended up a shrunken, warped mess after a round in the clothes dryer.

I myself have accidentally felted a cashmere-silk sweater by getting a little too aggressive with the heat. Not a good look.

Proper laundry care is so important for maintaining the integrity and longevity of silk fabric. With some silk garments costing hundreds of dollars these days, you want to avoid damaging them at all costs!

Some common issues that can occur from improper drying:

  • Shrinking or felting
  • Loss of sheen and luster
  • Snags and pulls
  • Irreversible wrinkles
  • Faded colors
  • Weakened fibers

Trust me, you want to avoid these problems!

genuine silk texture detail

Can Washable Silk Go In The Dryer?

The short answer: Technically yes, washable silk can go in the dryer, but only under very specific conditions. Air drying is still the safest bet for preserving the quality of silk fabric over time.

The long answer: Silk labeled as “washable” has typically been pre-treated or woven in a way that makes it more durable to withstand washing machines and perhaps, gentle tumble drying.

But that doesn’t mean you can just throw your silk pieces in on high heat!

  • Washable silk may say dryer safe on the tag, but I recommend air drying whenever possible.
  • If you must use the dryer, only use the low or delicate heat setting.
  • Use dryer balls or a mesh bag to prevent snagging.
  • Remove promptly when finished and hang to prevent wrinkles.

Even with those precautions, frequent high-heat drying can still damage washable silk over time. The extreme temperatures and tumbling action are tough on the natural protein fibers.

My personal rule of thumb? I only put washable silk in the dryer if I’m in a total time crunch, it’s just slightly damp or I need to de-wrinkle.

And even then I hover nearby for the short cycle, ready to rescue my piece at the first glimpse of trouble!

It’s crucial to understand the potential for damage when drying silk in a dryer, so I’ve gathered some key insights.

silk fabric washing label

The Science Behind Washable Silk

To understand the key differences between washable and traditional silk, we need to get into the specifics of how silk fabric is made.

Some background: Most silk is harvested from cocoons spun by little larvae like silkworms. Their sticky cocoon fibers get spun into luxury textiles.

Mulberry silk is the highest quality type used for clothing and bedding.

Traditional silk straight from the cocoon is extremely fine, lightweight, and not very durable when it comes to washing. So what exactly makes washable silk different?

  • Fabric blends: Most washable silk incorporates other fibers like cotton or polyester that make the textile blend more durable and shrink/water resistant. A typical blend might be 90% real mulberry silk and 10% polyester.
  • Weaving methods: Some washable silk uses compactly woven patterns that help the material hold its shape better through wear and washing.
  • Chemical pre-treatments: Pre-treating silk fabric helps protect it from water damage, heat damage, staining, etc. So it withstands cleaning better.

No matter what process is used, almost all washable silk maintains the coveted luxurious drape, feel, and sheen of traditional silk.

It just has a bit more durability built in to handle laundry day better if needed.

silk dress delicate hand wash

Risks of Putting Silk Products In The Dryer

Even with specifically engineered washable silk blends and treatments, drying silk fabric still comes with risks you need to be aware of. Some problems that can crop up:


This is probably the #1 concern with drying delicate silk items. The high heat combined with the tumbling action causes silk fibers to tighten up and bind together permanently.

Hello, tiny doll clothes! Once shrunken, silk typically can’t be stretched back out without damaging the fabric. No bueno.

  • Wool and cashmere blends are especially prone to disastrous felting and shrinkage.


Loosely woven silk fabric can easily catch on itself, zippers, buttons, Velcro, and anything else in your dryer. The constant motion then causes tears, holes, runs, and other visible damage.

  • Try washing garments inside out and line drying instead.
genuine pure silk textile

Loss Of Sheen

One of the things we love most about silk is the beautiful luminous sheen. But subjecting it to harsh detergents, hot water, and heat damage can strip the fabric of its signature luster over time.


Wrinkly silk might be the least awful side effect on this list, but still inconvenient. Drying silk while still warm and damp allows creases to set.

The delicate fabric also just wrinkles more easily than sturdy cottons or athletic wear.

  • If your silk piece comes out overly rumpled, try hanging/airing out while still slightly damp then gently steaming. Avoid over-pressing with an iron on the hottest setting.
pure silk fabric swatches

Does Washable Silk Shrink In The Dryer?

Washable silk shrinkage can definitely still happen but with a lower risk than traditional silk when dried properly. Let’s go over some factors:

  • Fiber content – Most washable silk contains only 5-20% synthetics like polyester, with the rest still being natural silk. So shrink potential depends on the exact blend. Types containing fine delicate fibers like wool and cashmere tend to felt/shrink most.
  • Drying temperature – High, sustained heat is what causes garments to shrink as fibers tighten up. So low to medium heat settings only. Take out promptly when dry.
  • Tumbling motion – The constant tumbling and agitation of a dryer also encourages shrinkage over time. Try using dryer balls/mesh bags to buffer garments instead.
  • Over-drying – Removing pieces promptly keeps them from overheating and shrinking. Plus wet silk takes less time to dry than thick towels or sheets.
  • Pre-treatment – Quality washable silk has often been pre-treated to be more shrink/water resistant. But chemicals wear off over repeat laundering.
  • Garment type – Looser weaves and less structure mean more potential to shrink. For example, a lined dress shrinks less than a slinky camisole or lacy blouse.

The good news is that taking some basic precautions can help minimize shrinking even for washable silk pieces.

Avoid over-drying, use medium heat or lower, dry similar items together, and use a bag/balls for buffering.

After I accidentally put silk in the dryer, I learned some valuable lessons on what to do next.

woven silk fabric texture

How To Safely Dry Washable Silk

If you decide to put your precious washable silk in the dryer, follow these steps to give it the best chance possible:

Step 1: Select Appropriate Cycle & Heat

  • Choose the low or delicate heat setting only. Medium heat if the garage is cool.
  • Opt for the shortest timed cycle possible just to minimize heat exposure.

Step 2: Use Dryer Balls

  • Add in a couple of wool or plastic balls to help break up garments and prevent excessive spinning.
  • Or use a mesh laundry bag for extra protection.
mesh bag silk protection method

Step 3: Don’t Overload

  • Only dry 2-3 items at once so air circulates effectively.
  • Overcrowding causes uneven drying and heat concentration.

Step 4: Check Progress

  • Pause every 5-10 minutes to manually redistribute, break up wads or tangled areas.
  • Check if items are dry to the desired level and remove them promptly.

Step 5: Remove & Hang Promptly

  • Take out ASAP once the drying cycle finishes.
  • Hang immediately while still slightly damp to prevent permanent wrinkles from setting.
airy dry silk gown indoors

Air Drying Methods For Silk

Honestly, skipping the whole dryer dilemma altogether is safest for silk! Protect those precious threads and let them air dry instead. Here are some great options:

Lay Flat To Dry

  • Smooth out the item on top of a bath towel or mesh rack.
  • Reshape seams or hems if needed to dry flat.
  • Provide good airflow to accelerate drying time.
towel dab drying white silk scarf

Hang On Skirt Hanger

  • Use clips, clothespins, or clamps to gently secure the hem.
  • Keep hung items away from direct sunlight to prevent fading.
  • May take up to 24 hours if the garment is very wet!

Roll In Towel

  • Gently roll the item wrapped inside a towel to soak up excess moisture.
  • Unroll and lay flat after 5-10 minutes.
  • Repeat the process until the dampness level is reduced.
soft towel press on beige silk
towel padding dry beige silk fabric

Air drying maintains shape and texture beautifully without the risk of damaging heat. Be patient – quality care is worth the wait!

Caring For Your Washable Silk

Taking proper care of your silk all around ensures it stays gorgeous and retains value over years of wear. Here are my top care tips:

  1. Pre-treat stains using mild soap, cold water, and gentle dabbing. Avoid vigorous scrubbing motions.
  2. Use silk-safe detergent without dyes, brighteners, or strong chemicals that damage fibers.
  3. Wash on a delicate cycle in a mesh bag using cold water. I skip the spin cycle to limit stress on the fabric.
  4. Reshape while damp if needed then flat dry only. Press gently with a low iron if wrinkled.
  5. Store folded in a breathable fabric bag or box. Never packed down compressed or hung for extended times.

Remember, silk really is a luxury textile meant to be cared for with great delicacy to preserve that effortless beauty and fluid drape. Treat her right and she’ll last you for seasons!

elegant pure silk texture

Conclusions: Play It Safe & Stick To Air Drying Your Silk

So can washable silk technically go in the dryer? Yes, but only with strict heat control, constant monitoring, and prompt removal.

There are still risks to the fabric’s appearance, feel, and longevity over time. Gentle air drying is absolutely the safest method for fragile silk fibers.

I hope these tips help you care for your silk pieces with confidence! Let me know if you have any other silk laundry questions. I’m always happy to share more fabric care advice.

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