How to Launder a Silk Blouse

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How to Launder a Silk Blouse

Although silk is one of the strongest natural fibres available, silk clothing is delicate and requires special care. Silk blouses are often marked as suitable for dry cleaning only. While it is generally best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions with regard to fabric care, some people prefer cleaning their clothing themselves as they are not comfortable subjecting clothing to the chemicals used in the dry cleaning process. Washing a silk blouse that is suitable for dry cleaning only can cause damage to the item: it can shrink, warp, or the colours could run. Where the care label of the blouse warns against it, think twice before washing it.

Some silk blouses are suitable for hand washing as they have been pre-shrunk and their dyes are colourfast. Even these items should be treated with care to avoid damage. Learn how to wash, dry, iron, and store a silk blouse to keep it in an as-new condition. The tools needed to launder silk successfully are available from supermarkets, department stores, specialist shops, and online sources, such as eBay.

How to Wash a Silk Blouse

Most washing machines are not kind to delicate fabrics like silk unless they have short, gentle cycles that are designed specifically for washing these kinds of items. If this cycle does not exist, then it is best to hand wash the blouse.

Machine Washing a Silk Blouse

If the washing machine has a silk-friendly cycle, machine wash the blouse and remove it from the washing machine as the cycle completes. Remember to choose a low temperature setting as heat may damage silk or cause the blouse to shrink. Use a washing powder or liquid, for example, Woolite, designed for delicate clothing. Although this is the most convenient option, hand washing is the safest.

Hand Washing a Silk Blouse

Wash the blouse in a clean basin or in the sink, using a washing liquid or powder designed for hand washing delicate clothes. Liquid soaps tend to mix with the water easily and do not leave residue on clothes. The water should be cool to lukewarm: the ideal temperature may be indicated on the garment’s care label. Swish the blouse around gently for three or four minutes. Do not scrub, wring, or subject the blouse to too much agitation and rough handling as this can shrink or damage the fibres.

Rinse the blouse in water that is as close in temperature as possible to the water used to wash it. A drastic change in temperature could damage the silk fibres. Swirl the item around until all of the soap has been rinsed out of it: the item should no longer feel soapy. Add half a cup of white vinegar to a basin or bucket of fresh water for the final rinse. This neutralises any remaining soap residue, prevents alkali damage, and brightens the silk.

Never use bleach on silk as this destroys the fibres. Washing powder or liquid for delicate items can be replaced with baby shampoo, and a drop of conditioner can be added to the rinse to nourish the silk fibres. If the item is being washed for the first time and features a colourful pattern, consider adding a commercial dye lock to the wash to minimise the risk of the colours running. Never rub stains or spills. Instead, gently blot the area and wash the blouse or have it dry cleaned as soon as possible.

How to Dry a Silk Blouse

Once the item has been rinsed, lay it flat on a towel and roll the towel up like a Swiss roll to gently squeeze out any excess water. Never wring out silk clothing. Some tumble dryers have a silk setting, but most do not. Avoid putting a silk blouse in the tumble dryer on any other setting as the heat is likely to damage it. If the blouse is tumble dried on the appropriate setting, remove it from the drier immediately to minimise creasing. To dry the blouse without a tumble drier, place it on a flat towel, reshape it, and hang it on a rust-proof hanger in a cool, dry place. Alternatively, leave the item on the towel to dry. Do not hang a silk blouse on a wood drying rack as the dyes could stain the wood. Silk clothing should not hang on an outside line as direct sunlight causes fading and fabric degradation.

How to Iron a Silk Blouse

Silk is prone to water spots and should be carefully steam ironed, if at all. A silk blouse should not be pressed after every wash. Instead, iron the garment only when necessary. Follow the instructions on the care label for the best results. Alternatively, set the iron to the "silk" setting or to a low temperature. A high heat setting can burn the blouse, cause puckering, or dull the fabric. It is best to iron silk while it is slightly damp. If the blouse has dried completely, use a plant mister to dampen it. The blouse should be ironed on the reverse and a cloth can be used between the blouse and the iron for stubborn creases.

An easier alternative to removing light creases is steaming the blouse. Simply hang the blouse in the bathroom before taking a hot shower. The steam from the shower should be enough to remove any creases without leaving water spots.

How to Store a Silk Blouse

If the blouse needs to be stored for a season, do not be tempted to store it in a plastic garment bag. These bags do not allow air to circulate around the clothing inside. Dry the item and hang it inside a cotton pillowcase to allow it to breathe. Make sure the blouse is completely dry before storing it to avoid mildew or mould stains. For normal storage, hang the blouse on a hanger in a cool, dry place that is out of direct sunlight.

Silk Blouse Care Tips

Proper laundry care keeps silk blouses looking their best. There are easy steps that can be taken to avoid causing damage to the blouse.

Washing vs. Dry Cleaning for Silk Blouses

Silk blouses that are suitable for washing are not always suitable for dry cleaning and the chemicals used in the cleaning process may cause shrinking or warping. This is due to the process washable silk has been subjected to in order to make it more robust.

Alcohol-Based Cosmetics and Silk Blouses

Deodorant stains silk as much as perspiration does. To avoid underarm stains, put deodorant on and allow it to dry before putting the blouse on. Also keep perfume, hairspray, and other alcohol-based cosmetics away from the fabric as alcohol stains silk.

Hard Water and Silk Blouses

Those who live in hard water areas should consider adding Borax, or sodium borate, to water to soften it before washing silk clothing. This makes the soap more effective. However, sodium borate and vinegar should not be used at the same time and Borax is unnecessary in the rinsing stage.

Finding Laundry Care Items on eBay

The secret to finding exactly what you are looking for on eBay lies in searching effectively. This is as simple as typing a keyword or search phrase, such as "silk washing", into the search bar that can be found on every page. Choose the most appropriate category to narrow the search results. Alternatively, use the advanced search feature for more control over the number of listings displayed.

Before You Buy on eBay

Before buying on eBay, take a moment to learn all that you can about the product and the seller. Click on an individual listing to go to the item listing page. This is where you find all the information that you need about bidding and buying options, the item description, the seller’s accepted payment methods, postage and packaging costs, terms of the seller’s returns policy, if any, and the seller’s contact and feedback details. If you have any queries about an item, use the "Ask a question" link to contact the seller.

eBay’s seller feedback feature allows buyers to leave feedback about sellers’ products and customer service. Detailed seller ratings provide additional information about the seller’s communication, how long it took for the seller to post the item, whether the postage and packaging costs were reasonable, and whether the item description on the listing page was accurate. This information can be accessed by clicking on the number next to the seller’s username. If you like a seller’s products, visit his or her eBay Shop to see more similar items.


Silk has a rich lustre and sheen seen in few other fabrics. It keeps the wearer cool in warm weather and warm in cool weather. Keeping silk blouses looking as good as possible means that wearers get the most out of their blouses. Proper laundry care is an essential part of this process. Silk blouses that are marked by the manufacturer as suitable for dry cleaning only should not be washed as they may lose their shape and colour. Always check the care label of the blouse for laundry instructions. Washable silk blouses have usually been treated to allow washing and should be dry cleaned with caution as the process could damage the fibres.

Even machine washable silk performs better when it is hand washed and this is the prefered washing method for a silk blouse. The water should be no more than lukewarm and a washing powder or liquid for delicate clothing yields the best results. Agitation damages silk and the blouse should be swirled around for three to four minutes to prevent unnecessary wear and tear. Never wring silk out. Instead, roll it in a towel and squeeze gently to remove excess water. Avoid tumble drying where possible and only tumble dry if the dryer has a "silk" setting. To dry, leave on a towel or hang on a rust-proof hanger in a cool, dry place. Iron with a cool iron only when needed or remove slight creases by hanging the blouse in the bathroom while taking a bath or shower. Proper care will extend the life of the garment. Laundry care items are available from a number of eBay sellers.

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