How to Wash Silk Bed Sheets Without Damaging the Fabric

If you own a set of silk bed sheets then you might be wondering what the best way to wash them is without damaging the fabric.

The best way to wash your silk bed sheets without damaging the fabric is to stick to the washing guidelines on the label, wash them without any other items, use a silk specific detergent, avoid bleach, avoid pre-soaking them, and consider washing the sheets by hand before hang drying.

The rest of this article shows you how to wash your silk bed sheets in 3 steps in more detail.

How to Wash Your Silk Bed Sheets in 3 Steps

To wash your silk bed sheets, first prepare by reading the label, then select a silk specific detergent, choose between hand washing or machine washing, wash the sheets independently, and then hang dry the sheets out of direct sunlight.

The 3 steps below explain how to do this properly.

1: Prepare

Before you actually begin to wash your sheets, there are a few things that you need to do first to ensure that the process goes smoothly, and they are as follows.

Read the Label

This is the most important step in the entire process.

You should look at the label to see the exact rules provided by the manufacturer for caring for your silk bed sheet.

For example, some silk sheets can indeed be washed in the washing machine on very specific settings – whilst hand washing may be the only recommendation for some items.

There will probably be guidance for avoiding certain types of chemicals that will damage the fibers – usually bleach-based products.

Wash Silk Sheets Independently

Regardless of whether you’re using a washing machine or washing by hand – always wash your silk bed sheets alone.

This will stop unnecessary abrasion with other materials that could damage the silk fibers, prevent dyes from running, and avoids lint getting stuck to the silk.

Use a Silk-Specific Detergent

In most cases, you should use either a gentle detergent, or a detergent that has been specifically designed to be used with silk items.

Tenestar is one example that’s been specifically designed to wash pure silk, silk mixtures, and viscose.

Woolite is another popular alternative – although some manufacturers do not recommend that you use it so be sure to check the label.

Charlie’s Soap Laundry Liquid is hypoallergenic and can be used to wash silk, linen, wool, cotton, microfibers, and more.

Using the right kind of detergent will help you to avoid the harsh chemicals like bleaches and optical whiteners that can damage the fibers and leave behind residue that can dull the natural lustre of silk.

Avoid Bleach

Never try to remove a stain from your silk sheets with bleach because this will damage the fibers and could turn your sheets yellow if they are light coloured.

Do NOT Pre-Soak Your Silk Sheets

Avoid pre-soaking your silk sheets.

Because leaving them to stand even in cold water could potentially damage the fibers.

2: Wash

Natural, raw silk bed sheets are very strong, durable, and soft.

And to keep them this way, hand washing is typically the recommended way to wash your silk bed sheets – especially when they are new.

However, many manufacturers state that you can wash your silk bed sheets in the washing machine but you must do this on very specific settings.

Here’s a walkthrough of how to wash your silk sheets by hand and in the washing machine.

How to Wash Silk Bed Sheets By Hand

If in doubt, wash your silk sheets by hand – since this is the best way to retain the desirable qualities of raw silk.

Nearly all manufacturers will advise that you wash your silk sheets by hand for the first few washes because it will help to preserve the sheen and gently soften the silk fibers.

You should check the label for the exact guidelines, but washing your silk sheets by hand can be done using the following general process.

  • Select a container that allows for your sheets to be washed spaciously – the bathtub is fine but be sure that it’s clean and hasn’t been recently washed with chemicals like bleach that could damage your sheets.
  • Fill the container up with either cold or lukewarm water – do not exceed 30° Celsius/86° Fahrenheit.
  • Add an appropriate measure of a gentle detergent that’s designed to be used with silk and doesn’t contradict the manufacturer’s guidelines for your sheets.
  • Place the sheets in the water – do not wash alongside any other garments.
  • Move the sheets around in the water.
  • Do NOT scrub, twist, or rub the sheets together since this can damage the fibers.
  • Only wash for a FEW MINUTES – any longer is unnecessary and could lead to degradation of the fibers.
  • The last step before drying is to remove the sheets from the tub, drain out the water, refill it with cool water, and rinse your sheets by hand to remove all of the detergent from the fabric.

How to Wash Silk Bed Sheets in the Washer

Check the label on your sheets to see if machine washing is allowed and make sure that you stick to the exact directions.

Otherwise, washing your silk bed sheets in the washer can be done by following the general process outlined below.

  • Place your silk sheets in the washing machine by themselves.
  • Use an appropriate amount of your chosen detergent that’s suitable for washing silk sheets such as Tenestar, Woolite, or Charlie’s Soap Laundry Liquid (make sure to check the label on your sheets for contraindications).
  • Select the ‘delicate’ or ‘hand wash’ cycle – go for the one with the shortest spin cycle.
  • Wash at a temperature no more than 30° Celsius/86° Fahrenheit.

3: Dry

It’s best to hang-dry your silk sheets away from direct sunlight.

If the manufacturer’s label says that you can use a tumble dryer, you’ll want to do this without heat or on the lowest heat setting possible – since heat can cause dulling, shrinkage, and damage the fibers.

You should use a very short spin cycle and consider removing the sheets from the dryer once they are around 80% dry to limit damage as much as possible.

Ironing your sheets is optional – see the next section for instructions.

Washing Silk Sheets FAQ

Hopefully, you can now see that washing your silk sheets isn’t as difficult as many people make it out to be.

Because in the vast majority of cases, you can wash your silk sheets in the washing machine for long term convenience simply by using the right settings and detergent.

And although hand washing may seem like an unnecessary pain when the machine is a viable alternative, I’d still recommend doing it for the first few washes at the very least because it can go a long way to preserving the sheen and softness of your silk sheets.

Here’s some answers to the most commonly asked questions regarding washing, drying, ironing, removing stains, and caring for your silk bed sheets.

Can You Iron Silk Sheets?

Unless the manufacturer’s label states otherwise, yes – you can iron your silk bed sheets.

But you need to be very careful since excessive heat can damage the fibers.

It’s best to iron your sheets on the inside (with the shiny side facing down) when they are still slightly damp to get rid of the wrinkles.

Make sure that you use a cool setting and do not keep the iron in the same spot for more than 3-5 seconds.

After several washes, you may find that your silk sheets don’t wrinkle as much and you may be able to skip the ironing part completely.

Can You Machine Wash Silk Sheets?

More often than not, yes – you can wash your silk bed sheets in the washing machine unless the manufacturer’s label says otherwise.

But make sure that you follow the step-by-step instructions that I’ve listed above to avoid damaging your sheets.

Also, consider washing your silk sheets by hand for the first few times to help retain the softness and sheen.

How Often Should You Wash Silk Sheets?

Wash your silk bed sheets once every 2 weeks.

It’s recommended that you wash your bed sheets every week, but pure silk or even synthetic silk sheets are typically more resistant to ambient allergens like pollen and are better at allowing moisture to evaporate when compared to cotton sheets – thus reducing maintenance.

Plus, this extended timeframe can help to avoid exposing your sheets to unnecessary washing and drying that can cause the fibers to degrade faster which can reduce the softness and sheen.

However, if you have allergies, sensitive skin, or asthma then you may need to wash your silk sheets more frequently to get rid of irritants more readily.

How Do You Get Stains Out of Silk Sheets?

The best way to get stains out of your silk bed sheets without damaging the fabric is to take them to a professional dry cleaner for specific advice.

I say this because not all silk sheets are the same and there are a huge array of different things that could stain your sheets.

But blood is probably the most common and you can use the salt water technique to remove it – as detailed in my guide to getting blood stains out of bed sheets.

However, if you’re facing a different stain and don’t want to take your sheets to the dry cleaner then you can use the following strategy for spot removing stains from your silk sheets.

  • Either purchase a specific cleaner that’s formulated to remove stains from silk – or mix 1 part white vinegar or lemon juice with 2 parts cold water to make your own spot cleaning solution.
  • Apply the silk cleaner as directed by the instructions – or dab gently at the stain with a colourless cloth with your vinegar or lemon juice cleaner.
  • Wash your sheets as normal either by hand or in the machine.

Do Silk Bed Sheets Fade?

Silk bed sheets can fade.

To reduce the chance of this happening, make sure that you wash and dry your sheets using the correct methods described above.

Take particular care to keep your sheets out of direct sunlight since the UV rays can degrade the fibers and cause fading – hang-dry inside, and pull the curtains on if your silk sheets are exposed to sunlight during the day.

Do Silk Bed Sheets Wrinkle?

Some slight wrinkling of your silk bed sheets is to be expected – although this typically decreases after several washes since the sheets tend to get softer over time.

To remove wrinkles from your silk sheets, you can iron them on a cool setting when they are slightly damp if the manufacturer’s label allows for it – see the ironing guidelines above for more detailed instructions.

If you damage your silk sheets with heat the wrinkles may become permanent.

When Should You Buy a New Silk Bed Sheet?

A good quality silk bed sheet should last you at least 1-3 years – although some of the higher end mulberry silk sheets may last up to 10 years or more with good care.

If you’re in need of a new silk bed sheet – click the button below.

And you can see some of the best silk bed sheet sets that you can buy online right now.

Image Attribution and Licencing

Main image: ‘Cream Colored Bed and Silk Sheets’ by John D Williams (Getty Images) – used with permission under Canva’s One Design Use License Agreement.