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[Answered]Can You Bleach Silk?

You can bleach silk with some know-how and extra attention now. In the past, bleaching is a taboo for silk. Sellers would alarm you to avoid any bleaching agents while cleaning and caring for silk. However, silk now spreads to every household, from cellar to rafter. With the increase in use, the need to whiten silk products is impossible to ignore any longer. Besides, home DIY of silk fabric springs up and calls for a safe way of lightening silk. 

If you are struggling with bleaching silk right now, you will not go wrong with this post. The following guide walks you through all the details of bleaching silk.

Which Bleach Is Safe for Silk?

You may turn straight to bleachers when dealing with stubborn stains, but never silk. Finding a proper bleach is both rudimentary and essential. Silk is a type of delicate natural fabric of animal protein. It may be injured by certain chemicals and can not withstand harsh environments.  Any bleach with chlorine damages the silk fibers. Your expensive silk products are likely to turn yellow and rough once touching chlorine. Moreover, most chlorine bleachers, such as 84 bleach water, are strongly basic. Silk protein may break down in them.

For home bleaching, distilled white vinegar and lemon juice may be the safest detergents. They can whiten the yellow color of sweat stains on silk fabric. Nowadays, non-chlorine bleach special for silk is also available. It is capable of whitening silk and barely causes damage to silk fibers. Most commercial silk bleachers are oxygen bleachers,  containing a small amount of hydrogen peroxide. However, they obviously can not fully remove the original color of silk fabrics. In the home DIY of silk fabric, hydrogen peroxide powder is a great option.

Why does Silk Turn Yellow?

There are two main reasons. First, some substances, like human sweat, can stain silk fabric and it turns yellow after some time. This annoying yellow can be removed with extra care. Second, silk fabric turns yellow after its protein degenerates. It happens when you dry your silk under direct sun or use chlorine bleach during a wash by accident. Home treatment may be of no use to these discoloration.

How to Bleach Silk?

As one of the finest natural fabrics, silk bleaching has some special points. Here list step-by-step guides for bleaching silk in washing and fabric DIY.

How to Whiten Yellowed Silk at Home?

  • Step 1: Prepare bleaching solution.

Dilute distilled white vinegar or lemon juice with at least an equal part of water. If you have silk bleach, add the recommended amount of it to cold water. Remember, the water temperature should be under 85 °F.

  • Step 2:Spot test for the safety of silk bleaching.

Dab a little bleaching solution at an unnoticeable place in the silk, and check if the fabric has an adverse reaction, such as shrinkage and yellowing. You can do the spot test with a cotton cloth or ball.

  • Step 3: Submerge the silk into the prepared solution.

If your step 2 works out, give the silk a full soak of the bleaching solution for about 5 to 10 minutes. You can flip it several times to bleach every corner. When the time goes off, check the effects of bleaching. If it is less than your expectation, repeat the step 1 to step 3. You can try the same formula again for the bleaching solution may reduce its capacity in the air. You can also try a stronger bleaching formula but never forget the spot test.

  • Step 4: Rinse the silk.

After getting the bleaching effect you want, rinse the fabric. Try to rid the silk of all the chemicals, especially when you bleach it with a chemical bleach. You can pour a ¼ cup of distilled white vinegar into the water you use to rinse the fabric. It helps to dissolve the bleaching agents.

  • Step 5: Line-dry the silk.

Line dry the silk on the drying rack. You should hang it under no sunshine. Direct sun yellows and roughens your silk.

Tip: Washing water of rice is also an optional bleach for silk.

How to Lighten Silk?

Lightening silk is a sticky business for silk DIY mania. Here is a guide to rescue your silk from over-dyeing or low dye uptake.

Things you need:

  •  3% hydrogen peroxide (available in a grocery store or drug store)
  • soda ash
  • a steel pot with a lid (enough to submerge the silk without folding)
  • stove and heater
  • a wooden stick or spoon

You can safely lighten silk fabrics by the following steps.

  • Step 1: Prepare soda ash solution.

Add enough water to the pot. You should make sure the water can fully soak the silk. Heat the pot filled with water. Then cool it down to about 140  °F. Dissolve a proper amount of soda ash into the water( ½ tsp for every pond of silk ). Stir it with a wooden stick to make it evenly.

  • Step 2: Submerge the silk and rinse it.

Make a full soak of the prepared solution. For used fabrics, you can take it out quickly and rinse it. For silk yarns or skeins, submerge them for more time to remove the sizing agents. Rinse the silk with cold water.

  • Step 3: Prepare the hydrogen peroxide solution.

Dissolve a proper amount of hydrogen peroxide with warm water in the spot, and add a little soda ash to it. The proper amount depends on the original color of your silk and the bleaching effect you want. For example, 5 pints can bleach a pound of white silk and 9 pints is enough for a pound of yellow silk.

  • Step 4: Heat the silk in the bleaching solution at a simmer.

Heat the pot to about 130  °F, a state where little bubbles emerge in the bottom but it does not boil. Then continue to simmer the pot until it reaches the bleaching effect you want. Do not bleach your silk over 10 minutes. You can use a wooden stick to move the silk and ensure every corner of the silk is bleached.

  • Step 5: Cool the silk and submerge it for other hours.

After turning off the heat, keep the silk submerging in the bleaching solution to have a better effect.

  • Step 6: Rinse the silk and air dry it.

Rinse the bleached silk with cold water. Repeat it several times. Hang dry the rinsed silk in an airy and shady place. 


Does Bleach Turn Silk Yellow?

Silk turns yellow when bleached with chlorine agents. It does not turn yellow with bleach of hydrogen peroxide and other silk bleach.

How to Remove Color From Silk?

For silk of light colors, you can handle color removal at home with the above guide. But for heavy colors, you may only lighten them.

Can You Bleach Silk Pillowcases?

Yes, but not with a normal bleach product. As a silk product, silk pillowcases can not withstand harsh bleach or softener. You can only bleach it with silk bleach or natural bleach. Moreover, you should bleach it by the steps mentioned above to preserve its beauty and longevity.


Bleaching is a panacea for both removing stubborn stains from silk and keeping it fabulous. Though no longer a must-never thing,  bleaching silk still needs your full preparation and extra care. Except silk, you should also avoid bleaching other natural fibers of proteins, like wool, cashmere, mohair and alpaca. Sinosilk is a professional wholesaler of silk fabrics and silk products. If you have any questions on silk washing or silk maintenance, do not hesitate to contact us. We will give you expert tips and detailed guides.

More Resources

How to clean silk tiesSource: Sinosilk

How to wash silk pillowcasesSource: Sinosilk

How to wash silk scarvesSource: Sinosilk

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