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Tips & Techniques > Hand Washing Silk

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Posted by: monahan

About monahan star
Member since: 7/9/03
Reviews: 40 (tips: 4)
Skill level:Advanced
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Posted on: 9/24/03 8:07 AM
Review Rating: Very Helpful by 9 people   
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I used the directions found at the above link to preshrink silk charmeuse and silk habotai. Basically, I hand washed the silk using baby shampoo, rinsed it about a million times, then rinsed it again adding one quarter cup of white vinegar to the water. According to Silk Road ( "Vinegar neutralizes any remaining soap, and allows it to rinse out completely restoring the fabric's natural sheen, it can make a dramatic difference." Then, I rinsed it in cool water one last time. Because I was washing several yards of fabric and didn't have the space (or patience) to hang dry it, I put the fabric in the dryer on fluff (no heat) with a clean, dry, white towel then ironed it while still damp.

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meanjean said... (10/16/06 9:33 PM) Reply
I know this was posted way back in 2003, but it's just the info I need right now as I embark upon my first real silk expedition. Thanks!
KMangum said... (10/2/03 3:06 PM) Reply
I usually wash crepe, habotai, shantung, duppioni, charmeuse, twill and velvets (solid & devore') in the washing machine, on gentle cycle - cold water, with a natural detergent from the health food store. Tumble dry the velvet on cool - it comes out yummy. I'll tumble dry the rest if I want them to be soft, or hang and iron dry if I want them crisper. My latest was a 100% silk embroidered organza from Thai silks - wash gentle/cold, tumble dry till cold then iron. Came out beautifully. Duchesse satin, heavy brocades, Suiting, heavier fancy weaves, etc. don't do so well in the machine -- they shrink too much. I'll handwash these much as Monahan describes, in the bathtub. IF you wash your silks in the bathtub **BEWARE** that dye can transfer to your tub!! I have dyed my tub turquoise, ochre, and various drab shades of brown over the years. Filling the tub up, adding a cupful of bleach, and soaking for a while usually works. Using a coat of CAR WAX on the tub first fills in the pores of the porcelain and really reduces the dye transfer...
Everyday Sewist said... (9/27/03 6:17 AM) Reply
I have also washed silk (and wool) in liquid castile soap (available at health food stores). It doesn't require as much rinsing as shampoo. The vinegar helps too.
Katharine in BXL said... (9/26/03 9:06 AM) Reply
Thanks for the update! els, good suggestion!
monahan said... (9/25/03 6:34 AM) Reply
Thanks, els!
els said... (9/24/03 5:54 PM) Reply
Monahan be aware of the fact that the color red is a dangerous one it "can" bleed for several washes.Also when you used the vinigar in the last rinse which also suposed to set the color.My suggestion is sew a piece of your white and red silk together and do a test wash, rather than test your finished dress.If the bleeding still excist than only your test fabric is ruined.Good luck with your dress.
SouthernStitch said... (9/24/03 2:50 PM) Reply
Thanks, I'll be starting on my first silk (5 yds) soon, so I needed this!
monahan said... (9/24/03 1:57 PM) Reply
It worked well. I washed and dried the fabrics separately (one is red, the other white), but will be hand washing the finished garment, which includes both colors, in the future. If any color issues arise in the future, I'll update this post. I've also used this method on a fushia RTW dress before with great results. I will post a review of the dress I'm making with the fabric on Friday (since I have to wear the thing tomorrow night...).
Katharine in BXL said... (9/24/03 1:12 PM) Reply
Thank you Monahan for the tip! I've been searching everywhere for info like this. How did your yardage turn out? Overwhelmed with curiousity!
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