Washing Silk and Cashmere Blends: Complete Beginner’s Guide

As a fashion enthusiast, I understand the appeal of silk and cashmere blends. The fabrics drape beautifully, feel luxurious on the skin, and elevate any outfit.

However, they do require more attentive care than other fabrics to maintain their integrity.

My goal with this beginner’s guide is to provide you with the knowledge and techniques needed to successfully wash silk and cashmere blend garments at home.

I’ll share examples and tips on:

  • How to identify fabric care requirements
  • Preparing garments for washing
  • Hand and machine washing methods
  • Proper drying techniques
  • Storing silk and cashmere to prevent damage

Follow these steps, and you’ll keep your silk and cashmere pieces looking and feeling fabulous for many wears to come. Let’s get started!

soft green and white silk textile

Assessing Your Silk and Cashmere Blend Garments

Before washing, it’s important to assess the fabric content and care requirements of your garments. Here’s what to look for:

  • Garment Labels: Check both the main label and the care label sewn inside the garment. They should indicate the percentages of silk, cashmere, and other fibers.
  • ‘Dry Clean Only’ vs ‘Hand Wash’: Garments labeled ‘Dry Clean Only’ should go to a professional cleaner. Those marked ‘Hand Wash’ can be washed at home.
  • Fabric Suitability: Very delicate silk and cashmere items like camisoles or lingerie may need professional cleaning even if the label says ‘Hand Wash’. Assess the durability of the fabric.
silk fabric washing label

For my light pink cashmere cardigan with a ‘Hand Wash’ label, I feel confident washing it myself due to the sturdy knit fabric.

But for a thin silk blouse, I would take it to the dry cleaners to prevent damage, regardless of the tag instructions.

Preparing to Wash Silk and Cashmere Blends

Gather the following supplies to hand wash or machine wash your silk and cashmere garments:

  • Gentle Laundry Detergent: Look for options specially formulated for delicates like silk, wool, and cashmere fabrics. Avoid regular detergents.
  • Washing Basin: For hand washing, use a sink, tub, or bucket large enough to hold the garment and water.
  • Soft Towels: Have clean cotton towels on hand to pad and blot garments as you wash and rinse.
  • Garment Bag: A mesh bag protects delicate fabrics during machine washing.
  • Color Catchers: These prevent colors from running or transferring to other garments.

Before washing, check for colorfastness by performing a spot test inside a hem or seam:

  • Dampen the area with water.
  • Apply a small amount of detergent and gently rub it into the fabric.
  • Dab with a white paper towel or cloth.
  • If any color transfers do not wash the garment and take it to a professional cleaner instead.
blotting out stains on silk

Hand Washing Silk and Cashmere Blends

For many silk and cashmere pieces, hand washing provides the most gentle and effective cleaning method. Follow these steps:

Fill Your Basin with Cool Water

  • Lukewarm water is ideal, around 75°F to 85°F (24°C to 28°C).  Hot water can cause silk and cashmere fibers to shrink or warp.
filling basin with water

Add a Small Amount of Mild Detergent

  • Check the detergent label for the recommended amount based on water volume.
  • Too much detergent may be difficult to fully rinse out. Start with a small quantity. You can always add more later if needed.

I absolutely love Heritage Park Laundry Detergent (link to Amazon) for my silk clothes! It’s so gentle yet effective, leaving my silk garments beautifully clean without any damage.

using heritage park detergent for silk washing

Gently Move the Garment in the Water

  • Do not rub, twist, scrub, or press the fabric roughly.
  • Lightly swish the garment back and forth to loosen dirt. The water and gentle motion do the cleaning.
hand laundering beige silk cloth
soaking beige silk in hand wash

Allow the Garment to Soak

  • Let the garment soak in the detergent solution for no longer than 20 minutes so the fibers fully absorb the water. This prevents shrinking.
  • For heavily soiled areas, you can very lightly brush the surface with a soft cloth or toothbrush. Avoid vigorous scrubbing.
delicate hand wash for beige silk

Drain the Dirty Water

  • Do not wring! Gently press the water out or roll the item in a towel to remove excess moisture.
  • Silk and cashmere fibers are fragile when wet. Wringing and twisting can stretch the knit.
towel method for silk fabric drying
towel wrap for drying silk material

Rinse Thoroughly with Clean Water

  • Fill the basin with cool, clean water to rinse away all detergent residue.
  • Change the rinse water several times until it runs clear. Detergent left behind can weaken fibers over time.

Lay Flat or Hang to Dry

  • Refer to the drying techniques in the next section.
silk clothes drying in open air

Machine Washing: Is It Safe for Silk and Cashmere Blends?

While hand washing is ideal, machine washing silk and cashmere is possible if done with care. Here are some best practices:

  • Use a mesh garment bag. This prevents friction and snagging during the wash cycle.
  • Select the delicate or hand wash cycle. This uses a slower spin speed and lower water volume to minimize agitation.
  • Wash in cool or lukewarm water. Heat can damage silk and cashmere fibers, causing shrinkage or running colors. Stick to temps around 75°F to 85°F.
  • Use minimal detergent. Only add about 1-2 tbsp for a standard-size load. Too much soap makes rinsing more difficult.
  • Use a low-speed spin cycle if necessary. High-speed spinning can stretch silk and cashmere knits. Remove excess moisture by rolling items in a towel instead.
  • Lay flat or hang to dry. Never place silk or cashmere garments in the dryer, even on low heat. Air drying prevents damage.
delicate cycle for silk in washing machine
mesh bag for silk garments in washing machine

If washing your silk-cashmere blend garment in the machine for the first time, use caution. 

Start with an older item you don’t mind potentially ruining to test if your washer can handle the fabric delicately.

See the best methods for washing silk and satin blends to preserve their qualities.

Drying and Maintaining the Shape of Silk and Cashmere Garments

The drying process requires care to prevent shrinking or distorting the size and shape of your garment. Here are some tips:

Lay Flat on Top of a Towel

  • This ensures the garment dries evenly while maintaining its form.
  • Absorb moisture by rolling it in a towel first, then laying it flat.
  • Smooth out the fabric so it dries flat and even.

Avoid Hanging, Clamps, or Direct Heat

  • Hanging silk or cashmere garments can stretch them out as they dry.
  • Clamps and tight hangers can imprint creases on the fabric.
  • Direct heat sources like sunlight or hairdryers can damage fibers.

Reshaping While Damp

  • As the item dries, periodically smooth and reshape areas like collars, cuffs, or hemlines while still slightly damp.
  • This helps the garment retain its structure as the moisture evaporates.
  • For knits, lay them flat and gently pull them into the intended shape so they keep their form as they dry.
silk textile air dry method

Addressing Common Concerns with Silk and Cashmere Blends

Knowing how to properly wash your delicate fabrics alleviates many care concerns. Here are some other frequently asked questions:

Can you wash ‘Dry Clean Only’ silk cashmere at home?

It’s not recommended. ‘Dry Clean Only’ instructions are there for a reason – the garment is too high-maintenance for home washing.

Take these pieces to a professional cleaner. Attempting it yourself risks shrinking or other damage.

What happens when you wash ‘Dry Clean Only’ silk cashmere?

Aggressive home washing can make silk cashmere shrink, warp, bleed color, pill, tear, and lose shape.

The blend of fibers is very delicate. Always err on the side of caution and have ‘Dry Clean Only’ items professionally cleaned.

natural silk fabric detail

How to wash silk cashmere so it doesn’t shrink?

To prevent shrinking silk and cashmere:

  • Hand wash in cool water below 86°F.
  • Avoid wringing and limit agitation.
  • Do not place in dryer. Lay flat or hang to dry.
  • Reshape the garment while damp.

Machine washing on delicate may work but risks more shrinkage. When in doubt, take it to the pros!

Special Care for Silk Cashmere Sweaters and Shirts

Sweaters and shirts made from silk-cashmere blends require some special care considerations:

Cashmere Sweaters

  • Fold gently and store flat to avoid stretching the knit fabric over time.
  • Use sweater racks or other forms to hold shape while drying. Do not hang.
  • Pilling is common with cashmere but can be managed. Avoid abrasion and do not use fabric softeners or dryer sheets which reduce texture.
  • Use a de-pilling comb or fabric shaver to gently remove pills without damaging the fabric.
  • Hand wash cashmere sweaters with cool water only and reshape while damp. Hot water will cause shrinkage.

Silk Blouses and Shirts

  • Button shirts up before washing to prevent stretching around the neckline and chest.
  • Use dress shirts/blouse laundry bags during washing and drying to maintain shape.
  • Iron while still slightly damp using the appropriate heat setting for silk. Avoid over-ironing.
  • Use padded hangers for storage to hold the shape of the shoulders.

Learn how to wash silk and cotton blend fabrics for durability and comfort.

premium pure silk material

Long-Term Care and Storage of Silk and Cashmere Blends

Proper storage and preventative care keep your silk and cashmere pieces in good condition between wears. Here are some tips:

  • Store in cool, dark places away from direct light, heat, or humidity which can damage fibers.
  • Use breathable garment bags for storage, not plastic which traps moisture.
  • Hang camisoles, dresses, blouses, and other shaped garments on padded hangers to hold their form.
  • For sweaters, fold gently on a flat shelf or in a drawer. Do not hang sweaters.
  • Place acid-free tissue between folds and layers to prevent snagging or pilling.
  • Check regularly for signs of holes, stains, or insect damage. Treat issues promptly to prevent worsening.
  • Use cedar blocks, lavender sachets, or other natural repellents to guard against moths in wool and cashmere.

With proper storage and care between wears, your silk and cashmere garments will maintain their beauty and last for many years to come!

silk fabric fibers close up


I hope this beginner’s guide gives you the knowledge and confidence to start properly caring for your silk and cashmere blend garments at home.

Follow these tips for hand washing, drying, storage, and preventative measures. Always check garment labels and when in doubt, take it to the professionals!

With a little TLC, your luxurious fabrics will stay looking fabulous and feeling soft against your skin for seasons to come.

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