Silk isn’t just an extremely delicate fabric but highly expensive too. Though silk saree is super classy to wear, it has always had a reputation of being a “problem fabric.” So, nothing can be worse than finding that nasty food stain on it. That’s when you want to eagerly know how to wash silk sarees at home? Or probably, any silk material that you have had those stains on.

But wait, can you even wash silk clothes at home? Weren’t they only supposed to be dry cleaned? Let me tell you that you can still wash your silk clothes at home. However, this largely depends on two things:

  • The way you wash them
  • The way you take care of them

At first, you might feel a little nervous about washing your silk clothing on your own. But don’t be. Today, I’m here to take out that anxiety in you and teach you the right way to wash your silk saree at home.

The Basics: How to Wash Silk Clothes?

Since you are going to wash an expensive garment like silk, there are certain things you’ll always have to keep in mind. Whether you need to wash by hand or in a machine, it’s important you keep the following things in mind.

  • Check the label: First, check out the instructions that’s written on the garment’s label. This actually reveals many things. It tells you exactly how that particular clothing needs to be handled and washed. If the garment is super expensive and says that it has to be dry cleaned, then it’s not worth taking a risk. Take it to a professional.
  • Check for colour-fastness: Some silk garments might bleed when you wash. Therefore, it’s crucial to test a little part of the fabric. But don’t dip directly into the water. I bet you were about to do that! To test, take a white cloth (dipped in mild detergent + water) and dab on your silk saree or garment. See if the colour leaks onto it.
  • Don’t bleach: Whenever you wash silk clothes, don’t wash them with chlorine bleach. This literally damages their natural fibres.
  • Use special liquid detergents: There are exclusively created liquid detergents in the market that are specialised for washing silk fabrics and other expensive ones like chiffon, georgette, and crepe. They are created with balanced pH and without enzymes or bleach to retain the silk’s shine and further, protect the embellishments.
  • Don’t dry in direct sunlight: Since silk is an extremely delicate fabric, exposing them to direct sunlight even for a little time can not just fade the colours but also damage them deeply.
  • Never tumble dry: The high temperature of your tumble dryer can actually damage or shrink your silk to a great extent.
Note: If your fabric label reads “Dry Clean,” then it’s usually only a recommendation to take it to a good dry cleaner. However, you can still gently hand wash your garment at home. On the other hand, if the label reads “Dry Clean Only,” then that particular clothing is too delicate, and it is safe to dry clean.

So, if you have decided to wash the silk garment at home after cautiously reading the label, follow the guidelines written below.

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How to Wash Silk Saree at Home by Hand?

  • Test the colour-fastness: Before you wash the silk saree at home, check the colour fastness. Most silk sarees tend to have bright, rich colours, which can often bleed. Just dip a cotton swab in gentle laundry detergent mixed with water and dab it on the hidden seam. See if the dye comes off onto the swab. If it bleeds, don’t even think of hand washing it. Take it to the dry cleaner. But if it doesn’t bleed, follow the steps further.
  • Fill the tub with cold water: Silk sarees should only be washed using cold water. Never use hot or lukewarm water. Start by filling the tub with cold water—adequate to wash the saree.
  • Avoid harsh detergents: Never use soap or harsh detergents during the initial 3 washes. Just rinse it with plain cold water. Be very gentle. For the subsequent washes, make sure to use a mild detergent.
  • Use special liquid detergents or shampoo: These are designed particularly for washing silk. You can find them easily in the market these days. However, if you don’t have one, you can also use a good protein shampoo. Pour a little of it in the tub and mix it with water well.
  • Soak the saree for 5 – 7 minutes: If your silk saree is very dirty, soak it for no more than 7 minutes. The more you soak, the riskier it is. So, just 5 – 7 minutes will do.
  • Wash it in sections: Start by washing the pallu of the saree first, followed by the border and the body. Washing them in separate sections or portions will prevent the risk of colours being mixed with each other.
  • Don’t apply pressure: Be as gentle as you can. Never ever do the mistake of lashing or brushing your silk saree. You will end up tearing that expensive “zari.”
  • Rinse it with cold water: Once the washing is done, fill the tub with cold water again and rinse the saree thoroughly. Also, don’t bundle and keep the wet saree for a prolonged period. Once rinsing is done, immediately dry it out.
  • Dry the silk saree in shade: Don’t twist the saree to squeeze out the water from it. That’s a big NO. The moment you rinse it, dry it out in the shade as such. Don’t dry out in direct sunlight, as this will rip off the finely woven designs.
  • Iron the silk saree at low heat: When the saree is slightly damp (not too damp), take it off from the drying hanger and start ironing it at low heat. This will set the saree neatly. But when you iron the silk saree, make sure to place a cotton cloth under it.
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How to Wash Silk Saree at Home in the Washing Machine?

  • Check the label: If the label on the silk saree reads machine washing, then it can be washed in the machine but with proper care. But as far as I know, pure silk sarees can never be washed in a washing machine. I will never recommend it. Therefore, check the fabric tag properly. It’s better to be safe than sorry. But if you still want to proceed and you are 100% aware of what you are doing, don’t put it in the machine blindly. There are certain things you need to do. So, follow the steps mentioned below.
  • See if your machine has “delicate or gentle” mode: Most washing machines will have the option of “gentle or delicate” mode, which is specially designed for washing woollen and delicate sarees. If your machine has that mode, you can wash your silk saree in it. If you don’t have that option, go for hand washing instead.
  • Turn on the gentle or delicate mode: Once you switch this mode on, select the water level you want to go with—probably enough to wash your silk saree in it. Don’t add any other clothes with it.
  • Pour the special liquid detergent: Don’t use the usual detergent powders that you use for everyday washing. You need mild liquid detergent or special detergents that are designed for washing silk sarees. If you don’t have anything handy, use a shampoo.
    Put your silk saree inside a mesh garment bag or pillowcase: Doing this before washing will keep your saree from snagging inside the machine.
  • Soak for 5 – 7 minutes: Let the shampoo or mild liquid detergent work on the saree to pull out all the dirt. But don’t soak for more than 5 minutes.
  • Allow the gentle/delicate mode to work: Turn on the machine again and set the wash cycle to delicate/gentle mode. Allow it to work automatically.
  • Don’t tumble dry: As a thumb rule, silk clothes—be it your saree or any other garment—should never go inside the dryer! So, turn off once the machine rinses the saree. Remember. “no spinning or tumble drying.”
  • Allow the saree to air dry: Take out the saree from the machine and dry it in the shade. Avoid direct sunlight.
  • Iron the silk saree at low heat: When the saree is slightly damp (not too damp), take it off from the drying hanger and start ironing it at low heat. This will set the saree neatly. But when you iron the silk saree, make sure to place a cotton cloth under it.
Tip: If you don’t want the saree to come in contact with the iron directly. You can place the silk saree in between a cotton cloth and then start to iron it.
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A woman’s wardrobe is never complete without that beautiful silk saree. Every Indian woman has it and it’s truly one of the most exquisite fabric types to own, considering that it’s quite an investment. Therefore, every silk saree needs proper care to maintain its timeless elegance. You definitely don’t want to see your favourite red silk blouse shrivelled up inside the washing machine just because you didn’t know how to handle the saree right?

Hope, my article has helped in taking out the anxiety in you and made you aware of the right way to wash silk sarees at home.