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Odor in silk fabric
How do I get rid of it?
PatW
PatW  Friend of PR
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Tennessee USA
Member since 4/13/09
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Date: 4/24/11 11:02 PM

I bought some really pretty raw silk to make a cardigan with, but I've washed it several times and can't seem to get the horrible odor out of it. (I wish i'd noticed the odor before I bought it!) does anyone know how I can get the smell out of this fabric? Thanks!

AdaH
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AdaH  Friend of PR
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Iowa USA
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Date: 4/24/11 11:13 PM

I was never able to get that odor out of the silk I bought. Hope someone comes along with a solution.

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Ada

Elona
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In reply to PatW


Date: 4/25/11 2:28 AM

That characteristic smell is sericin, the protein 'glue' that the silkworm uses when spinning its silk fibers. The more highly refined silk is (the more chemical processing it undergoes), the more sericin is removed, so you won't smell it at all on fine, dyed crepe de chine, for example.

Raw silk is very lightly processed, and much of the sericin remains. Unfortunately, like all proteins left out in the open (think of meat left in your garbage can on a warm day), it stinks. Even more unfortunately, the home sewist doesn't have the machinery and materials around the house to process the silk further and remove that 'glue.' Mere washing, even repeatedly and at hot temps, won't do it. You can read about the necessary steps here.

tholtz
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tholtz
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Ontario CANADA
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Date: 4/25/11 4:27 AM

I purchased a ton of silk from Frabricland just after New Year's and it stinks! I was going to make shirts for dh but I don't know if he'll put up with the smell. Such a shame because the drape is excellent. :(

Edit to add: I wonder if enzyme cleaners designed to eliminate cat urine odors would work?


-- Edited on 4/25/11 4:36 AM --

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PatW
PatW  Friend of PR
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Tennessee USA
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Date: 4/25/11 7:56 AM

Thanks so much for the info Elona! I'll try the methods in the website and let you all know how it turned out. I hate the thought of throwing it out.....

JTink
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JTink
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Date: 4/25/11 8:55 AM

Just a thought, but would white vinegar help?
-- Edited on 4/25/11 8:55 AM --

tholtz
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tholtz
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Ontario CANADA
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In reply to JTink


Date: 4/25/11 9:03 AM

I tried washing in vinegar many times as well as soaking in baking soda, nothing worked, friggin' stuff still stinks.

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Elona
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In reply to JTink


Date: 4/25/11 3:30 PM

Since sericin is a protein, to get rid of it, you have to think about the kinds of things that would denature protein: strong acids and alkalis (like ammonia). These are frankly dangerous, not at all home-user friendly, and under unskilled home conditions, they're not going to be friendly to your silk, either.



goodworks1
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In reply to Elona


Date: 4/25/11 4:00 PM

Quote: Elona
Since sericin is a protein, to get rid of it, you have to think about the kinds of things that would denature protein: strong acids and alkalis (like ammonia). These are frankly dangerous, not at all home-user friendly, and under unskilled home conditions, they're not going to be friendly to your silk, either.

On the other hand, if you are going toss the fabric out if you can't 'fix' it, you don't have much to lose by trying to scour your fabric with Synthrapol or similar strong detergents.
-- Edited on 4/25/11 4:00 PM --

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bettimon

bettimon
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Washington USA
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Date: 4/25/11 4:09 PM

can i ask what it smells like? is it different than most silk smells? i tend to LIKE the smell of silk, generally, and now i'm wondering if i'm going around smelling bad to other people.

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