Whether you are wearing a silk dress or wrapping yourself in silk sheets, there is no more luxurious fabric. We all love silk for its silky smooth texture, lustrous appearance and all of its incredible health benefits but it does have a reputation for being a tricky one to care for. So covering everything you need to know, here is our buyer’s guide for Silk…
Where is silk made?
Way back in the 4th millennium BC silk originated from China. Remaining just in China until the Silk Road opened, it then filtered through Japan and was later brought over to western Europe, which brought a huge economic boom in silk manufacturing. Today Japan and China have regained their earlier role and China is the largest silk manufacturer in the world.
How is silk made?
Silk comes from the thread of a silkworm, the most common is a Bombyx Mori. A moth lays 500 eggs and is kept at 18oC – 25oC. The silkworms feed on mulberry leaves and then when they have enough energy cocoon themselves over 3-4 days. The silk fibres are obtained from the cocoons by either putting them in sunlight, boiling water or steamed. Each cocoon can produce up to 900 metres of single thread, of which 5-8 are spun together to produce a single spun yarn.
Silk takes colour better than any other fabric because in the cross-section is it more triangular than round, intensifying the colour.
Can you wash silk at home?
Before washing your silk, here are two easy, quick tests you can do to determine if you can wash the garment at home.
- First, squeeze the dry silk garment in your hand, and then let it go. If the fabric smooths out quickly, it is high-quality silk and will hold up well to hand-washing. If not, take it to a dry cleaner—or risk ruining the garment.
- The second silk test is one for colourfastness. Dampen the fabric on an inside seam. Wait a few minutes, and then wipe the spot with a white cloth or cotton swab. If the colour comes off, the dye will run during washing, so take that garment to the dry cleaner instead.
How to wash silk in a washing machine
- Check the fabric care label and see if you are able to put it in the washing machine. Some silk items may lose colour or get damaged in the machine.
- Don’t wash silk and delicate fabric with heavy pieces of clothing like jeans.
- Put your silks into a delicate wash bag to protect them from abrasive damage.
- Put it into the washing machine and make sure you don’t overload it, you should be able to get your hand in there.
- Add silk wash or delicate detergent. Follow the dosing instructions on the bottle.
- Your machine should have a delicate wash option, and also choose the shortest spin cycle and wash on the temperature recommended by the fabric care label.
- Use a towel to soak up water and excess moisture after the wash.
- Hang garment or lay flat to dry, away from sunlight.