Keep Your Silk Pillowcases Looking and Feeling Fresh with These Care Tips

The perks of silk pillowcases are many: They can help reduce wrinkles, split ends, and frizz, to name a few. They often come with a high price tag, so you have to care for them properly to ensure they last. Sweat, germs, body oils, hair products, and makeup (even though you remove your makeup before bed, right?) can build up quickly on your bed, especially your pillowcases. We consulted experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute’s Home Care and Cleaning Lab on how to wash your silk pillowcases.

First, always check the care label or manufacturer’s website for detailed care instructions. If there is, be sure to follow it. Our favorite pillowcase brands like Fisher’s Finery, whose silk pillowcases impressed us enough to earn the Good Housekeeping Seal, usually have detailed care instructions for their pillowcases on their website. Though uncommon, some silk pillowcases are dry clean only, so be sure to check before You start washing. There are two ways to wash your silk pillowcases: with a gentle cycle in the washing machine or by hand. Most silk pillowcases can be machine washed as long as steps are taken to ensure a gentle wash. Hand washing is the most gentle approach and allows you to be extremely careful when washing — important when washing delicate silk pillowcases. The same basic step-by-step process as washing clothes by hand applies here; be sure to use a gentle touch and never wring or twist your pillowcase.

What do you need

  • Mesh laundry bag
  • Mild laundry detergent
  • Clean white bath towels

How to wash silk pillowcases in the washing machine

Most silk pillowcases have care instructions for washing in the washing machine, so be sure to follow the care label if those directions are different.

  1. Place pillowcases in a mesh laundry bag or turn them inside out.
  2. Select the delicates cycle in cold water and wash in a mild detergent. If you have a center agitator in your machine, be careful as it can damage the fabric if not adjusted properly.
  3. Some brands allow drying on an air-only or low-heat cycle, but other brands recommend against using a dryer, so be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. When in doubt: avoid the dryer. You can gently squeeze (don’t wring!) excess water out of the pillowcase, or pat dry with a clean towel, and lay flat to dry.

How to wash silk pillowcases by hand

Washing silk pillowcases by hand is fairly simple, and hand washing helps keep the fibers soft and shiny.

  1. Fill a clean sink or bathtub with cool water, and mix in about a teaspoon of mild detergent. If there are visible stains on your pillowcase, apply a few drops of detergent directly to the stain and gently dab with your fingertips.
  2. Stir the water with your hands to create a lather, then dip the pillowcase in and shake it gently to help the water penetrate the fibers.
  3. Be careful not to twist, wring or rub the fabric against itself as this can damage the fabric. Instead, gently shake the cloth (that is, move it around in the water) with your hand to clean it.
  4. Discard the water and refill the basin with cold water. Soak the pillowcase again and gently agitate it to remove any remaining soap. Repeat as needed, rinsing gently until residue is gone.
  5. Carefully squeeze out excess water, being careful not to twist or squeeze the fabric in any way. Place the pillowcase on a clean white towel and roll it up, squeezing it gently to dry the pillowcase further. Lay flat to dry, preferably away from sunlight to protect against fading and discoloration.
  6. If the fabric has wrinkles after drying, you can steam the pillowcase gently or iron it on the lowest heat setting. Be sure to turn the pillowcase inside out and place a pressing cloth or a clean piece of cloth between the iron and the pillowcase.

How often should you wash your silk pillowcase?

“Silk pillowcases should be washed as often as regular cotton, which is once a week,” says Carolyn Forte, Director of the Home Care and Cleaning Laboratory at the Good Housekeeping Institute. If you have cotton sheets but silk pillowcases, be sure to put them in a mesh laundry bag to prevent the fibers from fraying and try not to let them go through the spin cycle. If all your bedding is silk (lucky you!) then you can follow the same guidelines for sheets too.

How to treat stains on a silk pillowcase

Accidents happen to everyone, so if you find a stain on your silk pillowcase, it’s best to act immediately The longer the stain sits, the harder it will be to remove. To treat stains, apply a small amount of mild detergent directly to the stain gently with your finger and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Then, wash the pillowcase following one of the directions above.

Pro Tips: Avoid using stain treatments or any detergent with bleach as this will damage and discolor the fibers.

    How to remove wrinkles from a silk pillowcase

    Be careful with the heat around the silk, as high temperatures can damage the fibers. If your pillowcase or sheet is wrinkled, iron on the lowest setting with a press cloth, or remove the steamer for a milder option.

    Detergent Free & Gentle

    Free Tide & Gentle Laundry Detergent
    Credit: Install

    6 Piece Egyptian Cotton Towel Set

    6 Piece Egyptian Cotton Towel Set
    Credit: Home Depot

    Mesh Wash Bag with Zipper

    Fisher’s Finery Mesh Wash Bag with Zipper
    Credits: Fisher Jewelry

    Abigail Bailey's headshot

    Assistant General Manager

    In addition to her work as assistant general manager of the Good Housekeeping Institute, Abigail is also pursuing her master of science in digital and print publishing at NYU. Prior to joining GH in 2022, he worked at LSU Press and Southern View. In her spare time, you can find her crocheting, crocheting, cross-stitching, or doing any craft.

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