What Is Silk?
Silk is a natural protein fiber (fibroin) that is commonly woven into textiles, and is one of the oldest fabrics known to man. With a long trading history across the world, it is the epitome of luxury due to its soft feel, thermal conductivity, and sturdiness. It is best known for shine, elasticity, durability, and hypoallergenic properties.
The Many Uses Of Silk
The production of silk originated in China during the Neolithic period, where it remained and was monopolized until the Silk Road opened during the 1st millennium BC. It quickly formed an important guide of social class; silk was used as a royal piece of clothing for personal use and gifts for other royal families. In the seventh century, the material made its way to the United States, where its utilization drastically expanded and evolved. While silk is primarily used in garments and household goods, it has many uses: surgical sutures and bicycle tire casings.
Does Quality Matter When it Comes to Silk?
When it comes to silk, quality always matters. 100% pure mulberry silk is the highest quality of silk on the market. Mulberry silk threads are friction-free and smoother than the alternative, eliminating frizz, bed head, and wrinkles. Additionally, it is known for being stronger and more luxurious, while allowing skin and hair to retain necessary and important moisture.
Silk is also graded on quality: A, B, and C, with A being the greatest quality long-strand silk. In addition, silk grades are further broken down by number; Grade A can be A, 2A, 3A, 4A, 5A, and 6A, 6A being the highest and finest quality. Simply put, a pillowcase with grade 6A silk will be of higher quality and price than others.
Silk weight is measured in momme, abbreviated as mm. The higher the momme weight, the thicker the yarn, similar to thread count for cotton.
The Many Benefits Of Silk
Silk is not only the strongest of natural fibers in the world, it also has 19 essential amino acids and induces rapid cell turnover. The material is a summer staple due to its absorbent nature and ability to pull moisture away from the skin, but also great for the winter with its low conductive properties, making it perfect for all year-round. Additionally, silk regulates body temperature, minimizes sleep wrinkles, helps retain essential moisture, prevents hair breakage, is great for sensitive skin, protecting skin from irritation, and contains sericin making them antibacterial and resistant to mold.
WASHING YOUR SILK AT HOME
Test for Colorfastness
While silk is washable, keep in mind this fabric commonly bleeds, resulting in staining of other items in the wash. You can test for colorfastness by dipping a small piece of the silk, like the hem in lukewarm water. If dye is released, bleeding will occur if/when washed. In this case, it may be best to take your item to the dry cleaners or, if the item is a solid color, wash it alone.
How Often Should I wash My Silk Pillowcase?
Silk pillowcases should be washed at least once a week.
What You’ll Need
- A laundry detergent that does not contain bleach or enzymes. Our favorites include Woolite Delicates and The Laundress
- Clothes hanger
- Mesh laundry bag
- Steamer or iron with cool or “silk” setting
How to Wash Silk Pillowcases
Silk is a very delicate material therefore, it is important to wash with care. Silk can be cleaned several different ways depending on your item and preference.
Method 1: Hand Wash
Fill a large bowl with cold water then add a few drops of gentle detergent. Mix the water around using your hand. Prepare to wash by turning inside out. Next, add your silk pillowcase and let it soak for three minutes. Once time is up, take the pillowcase and gently plunge it up and down, allowing the water to move through the fabric to wash out dirt and residue. Remove your pillowcase from the bowl, pour water out, and turn on the cold water, rinsing the silk; continue to do so until water runs soap-free. Lay a clean towel out on a flat surface and place the pillowcase directly on top, rolling the towel from one end to the other with the silk inside. Once the towel is rolled up, unroll the towel and take out the pillowcase (do not wring out or squeeze rolled towel with silk inside). Hang the pillowcase from a hanger and let it dry, making sure not to place in direct sunlight.
Method 2: Machine Wash
Before you add the pillowcase to the washing machine, check the tag to ensure that it is safe to do so. Turn your pillowcase inside out then put inside a mesh laundry bag and add to the washing machine. Adjust the washer to a delicate cycle, cold water, and the shortest spin cycle. Next, add your gentle detergent. Once the cycle is completed, take your pillowcase out of the mesh bag and hang from a hanger.
Method 3: Dry Cleaners
Taking your pillowcase to the dry cleaners, is best practice for brights, dark-colored, and patterned items. When you drop it off, be sure to point out stains, along with any home solutions you’ve tried, this could affect the outcome.
How to Dry Silk Pillowcase
Simply hang to dry for 12-24 hours.
How to Treat Stains in Silk
Spot treating is not recommended with silk, instead use a mild solution. Create a mix of two cups of lukewarm water and two tablespoons of lemon juice or white vinegar. Spray the mix on the stain, while gently working the mixture into the designated area. Do not rub, it can cause damage to the fibers. Once completed, wash accordingly.
How to Get Rid of Wrinkles in Silk
There are two ways to remove wrinkles from your silk pillowcase: iron and steaming.
Both can be a bit tricky but steaming is typically the safest of the two. When steaming, ensure your steamer is made for delicate fabrics, such as silk. Use on your dry pillowcase, being careful to not let the temperature get too hot, keep your distance. If your steamer drips, dunk the item in cool water and allow it to dry, this should get rid of the water mark.
When using an iron, turn your damp pillowcase inside out and choose a low setting. If possible, set your iron to the “steam” setting, floating over the item, do not make contact.
How to Store Silk
It is best to store silk in a dark area; long exposure to sunlight or even strong lights can cause streaks or fading.