Taking Care of Silk
April 9, 2004 9:57 AM   Subscribe

I have quite a few silk blouses, and I'm curious about the various washing instructions. Some are dry-clean only, others hand wash/line dry, and others still are machine wash/tumble dry. (As well as other assorted combinations). Why all the variations, when all are 100% silk?
posted by ferociouskitty to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (4 answers total)
As a wild guess, the dyes might have something to do with it. I remember all my mother's blouses that she would handwash in the sink would bleed profusely.

Another reason would be the delicacy of any seams or threadwork like embroidary. Shrinkage might also be an issue depending on the cut or seamwork.

Silk itself is just a thread, so the way its woven into cloth might vary from garment to garment. So, silk cloth can be delicate or like a strong broadcloth.

Here's another link I found on some different kinds of silk.
posted by Sangre Azul at 10:06 AM on April 9, 2004

Light neutrals, like white and ivory, can generally be more easily hand washed, whereas bright colors often run.
posted by ambrosia at 10:10 AM on April 9, 2004

As well as legitimate reasons for different kinds of washing, there is sometimes a more dodgy reason for confusing instructions.

Even though your silk blouses may well withstand machine washing, it is not unknown for manufacturers/retailers to put overly-cautious laundry instructions on their clothes. That way, they have a get-out clause if people try and return items that have shrunk/faded/etc after washing them in a perfectly reasonably way: "Well, you should have dry-cleaned it."

With some experience, and bearing in mind the type and quality of the material your garment is made of, you can often machine-wash items that say they should be dry-cleaned only, and get good results.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this practice seems to be more common with women's clothing than men's, for whom there is now an incredible range of garments that you can throw in a machine and watch in amazement as they de-crease on the hanger. I guess women are just supposed to be better at knowing how to wash clothes. Tsk.
posted by chrismear at 10:11 AM on April 9, 2004

Never use chlorine bleach on silk. It stains. I handwash most things that specify dry-clean-only. Dry cleaning is really bad for the environment, not to mention expen$ive.
posted by theora55 at 5:24 PM on April 9, 2004

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