Satin silk has a smooth, comfortable feel that adds a a touch of glamour to everyday dressing. It is also the perfect fabric to regulate body temperature, which makes for a surprisingly practical hot weather choice.  I like to wear my silk satin shirts with something a little tougher, like frayed denim or military style cargo pants to give them a bit of an edge. A more conservative pairing, such as tweeds, flannel or dark denim is also very appealing, but best to avoid top-to-toe satin outfits unless you are going to be the bride!

Washing Satin silk shirts

#Initially I start off by washing, my brand new Satin silk items by hand – as they get older, and I get braver, (whichever happens first) on the delicate cycle of the washing machine.

# I use cool water along with a gentle detergent, like eucalan, (recommended by one of the readers here, amazing stuff, thank you very much!) for hand washing or ecover delicate for machine.when it comes to detergent, less is more and gentle is best.

#secret tip:Vinegar: Adding 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar to the rinse water can help silk survive repeated washes and keep its lovely sheen.

Be gentle with the detergent and use sparingly. If you don’t have detergent handy, a mild baby shampoo can also do the trick.

#I always wash them in a net laundry bag, rather than directly in the machine.
When hand-washing, let the item soak in sudsy water for about 5 to 15 minutes. Gently squeeze the suds through the clothing. Rinse thoroughly with cool or cold water. When I use eucalan, no rinsing is required, which makes it extra easy on me and gentle on the fabric.

# NEVER wring or twist your satin shirts. If you do, they may never recover their shape.
Goes without saying do not use a dryer or artificial heat. Instead, lay the item flat on a clean, dry towel, and roll the towel, jelly-roll style, and apply pressure to squeeze out excess water. Unroll, remove item and lay flat on another clean, dry towel to finish air drying, away from sun or excess heat. I have a special mesh “thingy” that I put over the bath to help items dry flat.

# My favourite way of drying shirts for real life wash ‘n’ wear- is on a hanger and then quickly iron while still just a little damp. (Not soaking wet) You will need to time this perfectly, use the timer on your phone. After a few attempts you’ll know your drying time, which will vary depending on where you live.

# Satin silk, shirts are best when ironed on a medium/light setting, with no steam. Iron the items inside-out with very quick strokes, never allowing the iron to linger too long on any one spot. Most of my shirts are quite plain and easy to iron, but recent purchases have little pleats. These are already stitched as well as heat set and keep their shape, After washing I gently pull into shape when wet and iron  them quickly pressing flat, using a hot iron over a damp in-between cloth. (If you press directly on the silk, there is danger of scorching and will almost certainly ‘shine’ the fabric, which will ruin the shirt.) Over time and repeated washes, the heat set will wear off – when that happens I will just accept it and go for a more ruffled look…

# Storing Correctly is key. Prevent creasing and wrinkles by hanging silk garments on sturdy, padded hangers. For folded items, best not create sharp creases because long term they can break fibers. Roll or pad with acid-free tissue paper to protect the silk. If your shirt has pussy bow or scarf-y necktie – it should never be left tied.

Personally, l loathe drycleaning fluids which I view as toxic –  and never use them for anything that I wear next to my skin. (Heavy coats excepted)  My cashmere also gets washed, but that story is for another day…

Restoring old or second hand silk.
If you bought something second hand, in less than ideal condition,but the quality of the silk is still good- there may be a way to rescue it with a little bit of tender loving care. Read General instructions below:

Tip: Before you hand wash silk, try this: squeeze the silk 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. Complicated clothing items with lining and interfacing may not be washable. These instructions are only for silk shirts or unlined items.

Stain removals
Silk fibers are made of protein and can react in unexpected ways, when treated with stain removal products and during cleaning.

Coloured Silk at Home
I personally mostly buy cream, white and pastels. This has the added advantage that they can be washed altogether at the end the week, without any fear of colour running and destroying the whole lot. (quelle horreur!) However, I have in the past, purchased a lovely patterned silk shirt which surprisingly, lasted and still going strong. Always Test For Colorfastness. Before washing colored sillk! Dampening the fabric on an inside seam. Wait a few minutes and then wipe the spot with a white cloth or cotton swab. If the color comes off, the dye will run during washing-and there will be tears all round.

No Spot Treating. For almost any other fabric, spot treating stains can often remove a stain and save washing the entire garment. Not with silk. Spot treating with stain removers can result in color and finish damage. Wash the entire garment and allow it more time to soak to remove food stains. For dark or heavy stains, take the piece to a dry cleaner and hope for the best…

No Bleach. There is no bleach in the world- oxygen or chlorine – that is safe to use on silk. Silk fibers actually dissolve in chlorine bleach. Even dilute solutions of chlorine bleach will cause permanent yellowing, color loss and weakening of silk.
Pretreat Stains. If you see specific stain spots, apply just a dab of the gentle detergent directly to the stain. Work in the detergent with your fingers and allow it to work for at least fifteen minutes before you hand wash the entire silk garment.
Use Only Cold Water. When you’re ready to hand wash, use only cold water and a very small amount of a gentle liquid laundry detergent. Use a soft touch when washing, no scrubbing and rinse well. If you decide to machine wash, place the garment in a mesh lingerie bag and choose the delicate, cold-water cycle.
White distilled Vinegar is your friend: Adding 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar to the rinse water can help silk keep its lovely sheen.

The Rescue wash
In a large sink or bucket, add one-fourth cup of white distilled vinegar to each gallon of lukewarm water. Mix well. Completely submerge the garment and swish around to completely soak the fabric. Remove from the vinegar water and rinse several times in clean water. Do not wring!

Spread the garment on a heavy clean white towel and roll up to absorb the water. Keep moving and repeating the steps with clean dry towels until much of the water is absorbed. Hang to air dry using a plastic shaped or molded hanger – no wood that can stain. I repeat: do not hang over direct heat or in the sun.

Iron the garment on the wrong side while still damp using a very low heat.

Ultimately just enjoy the comfort of wearing your divine silk shirts! Perfection is overrated…

© Ladysarahinlondon

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More wardrobe maintenance posts:
Cashmere care washing & storing
cashmere knitwear care

perfect handbags

How to look immaculate
Immaculate clothes

Lady Sarahs wardrobe
Well edited wardobe

Wardrobe maintenance
Rescuing a black box Hermes kelly bag


6 thoughts on “Wardrobe maintenance: keeping satin silk shirts pristine

  1. adguru101

    What a great post; so useful! I am a fan of silk shirts as well and wash by hand but had never heard of the vinegar rinse. I’m going to use your link to share this!

    1. lady sarah in london Post author

      Yes white distilled vinegar for emergency rescues. Eucalan is also a life saver, it makes washing a breeze and does not need rinsing! If you try it let me know how you got on.

  2. dottoressa

    Yes,Lady Sarah,great and very useful post!
    I do exactly the same,don’t have eucalan,use Ecover
    Even for my coloured silk dresses last year-before the first wear,I took a deep breath and have hand washed them,as above. I only don’t leave coloured silk pieces to stay in water,I wash them ad once
    Everything went great
    I’ll keep top shop satin silk shirts on my radar from now-thank you

  3. Antonia

    I loved this post Lady Sarah and found it very useful. I will bookmark for future reference! In the US I haven’t heard of those products you mention but we have Woolight for gentle wash.

  4. anhistorianabouttown

    My mom and my sister introduced me to Eucalan probably 5-6 years ago, and it’s amazing how much wear and tear it has prevented! I’m not going to lie, silk isn’t my favourite fabric- largely because of the potential for dry cleaning.


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