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How to Wash Silk Pillowcases? A Step-by-step Guide

A silk pillowcase proves a boon for sleep and skin health. It provides users with uncomparable texture and extra skincare through its precious fibers. Moreover, it assumes an unparalleled sheen and aesthetic beyond the abilities of other fabrics. 

However, you may find a silk pillowcase hard to clean and maintain since it requires additional attention. Improper washing also ruins the fiber and affects its durability. The following step-by-step guide walks you through all the details about silk pillowcase washing. It helps you finish the best cleaning within several minutes and maintain your pillowcase’s lustrous appearance and unique comfort for years.

Now, let us go further into details.

Preparation before Washing

As you may know, silk is a delicate fabric of a protein-based structure and thus demands some elaborate care. But it does not cause any hassle or burden in case you do some prework. You are supposed to prepare your washing according to the following steps.                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Check the Label

It is very important to view and review labels of natural products, silk included. Fundamentally, users should follow the Do’s and Don’ts on the labels. So you can check if your silk pillowcase is washable first, and refer to the advice for safe washing.

Check for Breakage and Color Bleed

Sometimes, your pillowcase may have some tiny breakage from wear and tear. These small abrasions and scratches worsen when you wash your pillowcase, particularly by washing machine. Therefore, you can have a thorough check first. If it has breakage, the repair is much more needed than cleaning.

Discoloration is a fatal malady for the appearance of your silk pillowcase. Made of a natural fabric, it is not capable of immobilizing the dye on its fibers. You may have noticed “Color May Wash Down” on the label. You can make a simple spot test to ensure the color bleed. Just Dip a white cotton swab into lukewarm water and dab at the surface. It has a color bleed if the swab is not as white as before. For washing, sorting out your silk items by dark and light color is not enough. Items with color bleed should wash alone, or others even the colorfast ones would get affected. To reduce the chance of color fading, you can add a fraction of the salk into cold water and soak the item failed the spot test for less than 15 minutes.

Detergent Suitable for Silk Pillowcase

An inappropriate detergent is awfully detrimental to your silk pillowcase. Silk fabric consists of fibroin, a delicate natural fiber. It can not withstand the strong alkali in fabric detergents. You had better prepare a detergent formulated for silk washing. Or you can choose a neutral, gentle detergent. Mostly, detergents labeled “delicate” are safe and friendly for natural fibers.

You may also use enzyme detergent and bleach. An enzymatic cleaner will damage your silk pillowcase. The enzyme is a biological ingredient and helps to dissolve stains of natural protein, such as blood and milk. It may destroy the integrity of silk fibers and break down their protein over time. Meanwhile, silk pillowcases can not bleached by chlorine products. They may fade, turn yellow and even dissolve into small holes. You should pick a bleach specialized in silk washing or labeled “delicate” if necessary.

Besides, brighteners and softeners in daily laundry may not be suitable for silk pillowcases. They wear down the delicate protein of silk and discolor your treasured pillowcase. Therefore, it is crucial to find silk-safe cleaning products. However, one thing common in your kitchen may save your money. You can use distilled white vinegar as a substitute for silk-only brighter and softener. It helps to smoothen your fabric and rinse the chemical residue that may damage fibers.

To conclude,

  • Find a silk-friendly detergent.
  • Avoid chlorine bleach and enzymatic cleaner.
  • Use distilled white vinegar or silk-safe softener. 

Steps for Cleaning Silk Pillowcases

Pretreatment for Stains

For an effective washing, you need to pretreat the stains on your pillowcases. Your pillowcase may be left with some spots of oil, sweat and skin products. You can prewash them by directly dabbing some stain remover or detergent special for silk and make them retain on the dirty area for about 10 minutes. 

How to Wash Silk Pillowcases by Hand?

Washing silk pillowcases by hand properly can work well and be handy. It also prevents any impairment of the washing machine and extends the lifespan of the fabric. 

  • Prepare soapy water: Find a sink or washbowl to disperse the recommended amount of detergent into cold water. Pay attention that the temperature must be under 86 °F, or frail fibers may be weak and fade. Distilled water is the best for silk pillowcase washing, but it does not matter much to use common water.

  • Submerge your pillowcase for about 5 to 15 minutes: Turn your pillowcase inside out, and submerge it into the soapy water. Soak it within 15 minutes for the silk performs bad in the wet condition.

  • Agitate the fabric: Agitate it with a tender touch. Do not rub or scrub your pillowcase. It easily wrinkles and snags under tough rubbing and twisting.

  • Rinse the fabric: Repeat rinsing your pillowcase in clean water. You can drain the used water and refill the washbowl with clean water more than 3 times to get rid of washing ingredients. You can also try to rinse the fabric under running water to fully remove the chemical residue. Any chemical vestige in the silk fibers could be damaging to your pillowcase.
  • Rid the pillowcase of excess water: Do not wring out the water or twist the fabric. It really hurts your pillowcase. You can just press the fabric into the edge of the washbowl and remove the water.

How to Wash Silk Pillowcases by Machine?

Washing your silk pillowcase by washing machine necessitates sorting and grouping. You had better arrange a silk-only load with a similar color.  

  • Place the fabric into the washer: Turn your pillowcase inside out and put it in a soft mesh laundry bag. Washing it with a laundry bag reduces the chance of crumpling, wearing and tearing.
  • Place the cleaning products:  Place the proper amount of mild detergent and  ⅓ cup of distilled white vinegar(or silk-safe softener). Do not put excess cleaning products or it would be hard to rinse out.
  • Adjust the washing machine: Adjust the machine to the silk cleaning cycle or a gentle cycle. Select cold water cleaning. Pay attention that the spin cycle is unnecessary because of its violent motion.
  • Wash your pillowcase and take it out as soon as possible: Run the machine. Remember not to leave it after the wash finishes. Your silk pillowcase may get creases and wrinkles in the mesh laundry bag.

How to Dry Silk Pillowcases?

A silk pillowcase is made of fabric that dries fast. Finishing the wash, you can take out one or two towels with good water absorption. Lay fat a towel and place your pillowcase on it. Then blot it by rolling the towel or covering the other towel. You can apply pressure to urge the towel to absorb more water.

Next, lay flat the silk pillowcase on a drying rack. You can line dry it indoors at an airy place or outdoors at a shady place. Remember, being exposed to the blazing sun is absolutely inadvisable. It may pose irreparable damage to your silk pillowcase.

A rack with a rough surface frays your silk pillowcase. Moreover, unpainted wooden racks may absorb the dye and cause discoloration. You should choose a smooth, painted rack. If you choose to pin your pillowcase in a well-ventilated area, try to use pins with a soft grip and avoid leaving a mark on it.

To conclude,

  • Rid your silk pillowcase of excess water with towels.
  • Line dry it in an airy and shady place.
  • Select a proper drying rack and soft pins.

Tips and Tricks On How to Care Silk Pillowcases

Ironing and Storage

Your silk pillowcase gets wrinkled while folded in the washing machine. It can recover a bit during line dry. You can iron it to a perfectly flat condition if you want. Here are tips for ironing a silk pillowcase.

  • Set the iron to a silk-ironing setting, or the lowest and coolest setting. Some irons may only have one temperature. You can test whether the temperature is proper by ironing your hair – a protein structure similar to silk. 
  • Iron it when it is still damp to avoid fiber dehydration.
  • Iron it with its inside out.
  • Place a press cloth or a white cotton cloth between the iron and the silk pillowcase to avoid direct touch of heat and steam.
  • Do not iron large areas at once. Iron it sparingly.
  • Do not iron it with a repetitive back-and-forth motion. The heat may accumulate and burn the pillowcase.

Reasonable storage does good to prolong the use life of a pillowcase. Here are tips for storing it.

  • Store it with its lying fat.
  • Store it in a breathable bag of natural fibers or an airy cabinet.
  • Put some cedar balls or lavender sachets to keep hygiene.

How Often to Wash Silk Pillowcases

Your silk pillowcase may lose its luxurious appearance and exquisite sheen soon without regular and proper cleaning. To maximize its beauty and value, you should wash it at least once every two weeks.

However, it is not set in stone. For example, you can wash your silk pillowcase right away when it touches some substances harmful to its fibers, such as smoke and alkaline liquid. Furthermore, you can wash your silk pillowcases more often when you are suffering from skin problems, such as pimples.


  • Check the label and condition of your pillowcase before washing.
  • Prepare suitable detergents
  •  Hand wash a silk pillowcase with washing solution and cold water. Rinse it to a completely clean condition.
  • Launder it in a washing machine with a gentle cycler and cold water. Add some vinegar to soften its fabric and remove chemical residue.
  • Air dry it in a shady place. Iron it gently and store it properly.


Which is the Better Way to Clean Silk Pillowcases, Hand-wash or Machine-wash?

Hand-wash is preferable. Silk pillowcases respond well to handwash and do not get impaired during cleaning. However, if too occupied to wash it by hand, you can turn to machine washing. But try to obey the tips in this post and reduce the chance of damage. 

Can I Dry a silk pillowcase by a Dryer?

No, you had better not dry your pillowcases in a dryer. Under the high heat of a dryer, fibroin denatures and silk fibers may become yellow. When you are in urgent need of your pillowcase and have to dry it with a dryer, try the air-only setting or other no-heat settings. And remember to watch it while drying to avoid a pillowcase in a “new color”.

How to Wash a New Silk Pillowcase?

You can wash your new silk pillowcase by the same procedures in this post.

How to Whiten a Yellowed Silk Pillowcase?

You can use some products containing hydrogen peroxide. This ingredient is efficient and safe for silk bleaching. You should check whether the recipe of the product is appropriate for silk pillowcases. More importantly, it works better to prevent a yellowed hue than whiten one. You should protect your silk pillowcase from heat and direct sun.


As one of the best, silk pillowcases are equipped with unique functions and opulent aesthetics. You can maintain it at its best condition for several years in case you invest 10 minutes every one or two weeks. To find more information about silk pillowcases and custom services, you can browse our websites and contact us. We are looking forward to further communication with you.

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