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How to Wash Your Silk Lingerie (Without Ruining It)!

Washing underwear made of silk can be done at home. In this article, we describe how to safely wash silk lingerie in your washing machine or by hand.

Silk Lingerie: Luxurious, Expensive, and Surprisingly Simple to Care For

When it comes to intimate apparel, there’s nothing quite like silk lingerie. Stylish, luxurious, and more than a little bit decadent, silk lingerie feels every bit as good as it looks. And if you’ve purchased silk lingerie recently, you know that it’s also an investment (Fleur du Mal or La Perla, anyone?) . But caring for your silk lingerie can be surprisingly easy (with no need to dry clean!).

While silk underwear may not be the most practical garment you’ll ever own, you’ll be happy to learn that most silk lingerie (and boxer shorts) can easily be washed by hand or in your machine. Caring for your silk lingerie properly is a wonderful way to make these expensive pieces last longer, stay beautiful, and maintain their “oooh la la” feeling. 

Read on for professional advice on how to wash your silk lingerie without damaging it, straight from the laundry experts at Heritage Park Laundry Essentials.

Choosing the Right Laundry Detergent for Your Silk Lingerie

Your very first step in caring for washable silk lingerie is to choose the right detergent. You should rule out commercial or “grocery store” detergents, as they contain harsh chemicals that can damage delicate fabric. Additionally, avoid any detergent that contains laundry enzymes for regular washing of silk apparel. Why? Although enzymes are highly effective at breaking down stains on apparel and linen, they work because they target proteins, which are the building blocks of almost every stain. Silk -- along with wool, cashmere, and alpaca, to name a few fabrics -- is actually made of protein. Long-term laundering with an enzyme detergent will actually degrade and break down the delicate fibers.

For washing silk lingerie, there is no need to use a dedicated silk lingerie wash. However, you should use a mild detergent made for washing silk fabric. We recommend Heritage Park Silk and Wool Detergent. This pH-neutral, concentrated formula was crafted to clean and remove stains while preserving the integrity of natural fibers like silk. It can be used to wash at any temperature, by hand or in the washing machine. It is made with a short list of natural and naturally sourced plant-based ingredients (you can read the ingredients here and our stewardship guidelines here. Heritage Park Silk and Wool Detergent comes in Lavender Mist and Fragrance-Free varieties. The fragrance-free formula is pediatrician and dermatologist tested and lab-certified to be hypoallergenic; this is a wonderful choice for anyone with sensitive skin or for washing intimate garments. Read about hypoallergenic detergent here.

Simple Steps for Washing Silk Lingerie

The first thing you must do before washing any silk lingerie is to read the care label. If you are thinking of skipping this step, don’t. Here’s a guide to common laundry symbols to help you out. 

Always use a mesh bag when machine washing silk lingerie

How-to machine washing your silk lingerie 

If you are machine washing silk delicates, here are some easy-to-follow instructions:

  1. Machine wash a silk only load. Silk lingerie should be washed separately from other items,
  2. Place your silk garment in a zippered mesh bag to protect it from damage in the washing machine.
  3. Pre-treat stains before you wash (see below)
  4. Use the appropriate amount of gentle detergent, like our Fine Silk and Wool formula.
  5. Use a silk/delicate cycle with cool water wash and rinse. Here is a guide to understanding laundry settings and cycles in your machine.
  6. At cycle’s end, remove lingerie and press with a clean towel to remove excess water; don’t wring out your lingerie.
  7. Hang lingerie to dry or lay flat away from direct sunlight as silk fabric is prone to fading.
  8. Do not put your silk lingerie in the dryer.
  9. Iron only if absolutely necessary and if so, according to the directions on the coolest iron temperature. We recommend using a clean white cloth between any iron and silk fabric.

How-to hand wash your silk lingerie 

If you are hand washing silk lingerie, there is no need for a mesh bag. Follow these guidelines:

  1. Fill a sink or basin with cool to lukewarm water and add a small amount of Silk and Wool Detergent. Gently agitate to mix.
  2. Place your silk lingerie in the water and carefully swish it around for 30 seconds.
  3. Allow the lingerie to soak no more than 10 minutes.
  4. Drain the sink or basin and rinse thoroughly in cool to lukewarm water.
  5. Do not wring; press with a clean towel to remove excess water.
  6. Hang lingerie to dry or lay flat away from sunlight, which can fade silk.
  7. Do not put your silk lingerie in the dryer. 
  8. Iron only if absolutely necessary and if so, according to the directions on the coolest iron temperature. We recommend using a clean white cloth between any iron and silk fabric.

[Video] How-to on Hand Washing Silk Lingerie

Treating Stains on Your Silk Lingerie

As we mentioned earlier, regular cleaning of silk lingerie should be done using a gentle detergent made for protein-based fabrics (that is: without biological enzymes). However, biological stains like blood and sweat are largely protein based, which makes removing them from silk a bit more complicated.

For these types of stains, we recommend trying a couple of different strategies before using anything other than a gentle silk detergent. To remove blood stains, place the garment under the faucet and run water through the reverse side to “force” the stain out. Cold water is very effective on blood. To remove a sweat stain, we recommend starting with a solution of white vinegar and water and spot treating or soaking the item (test on an inconspicuous area first if at all possible). For tough stains, you may use an enzyme-based detergent to pre-soak or pre-treat the silk items (again, this should be done only on a limited basis for difficult stains, not as a regular wash practice). We suggest making a 1:1 solution of Heritage Park All-Purpose Detergent and water in a spray bottle and applying to the stain. You can also make a mild solution of water and our All-Purpose Detergent to use as a presoak. If you choose to use a commercial stain remover, make sure it is safe for occasional use on silk.

As always, please feel free to contact our “clean team” with any questions you have about caring for silk or any other washable fabric. We are here to help!

Welcome to the Heritage Park Laundry Essentials Family

At Heritage Park, caring for fine fabric is our passion. As lifelong collectors of luxury sheets, towels, and cloths, we found many commercially available "gentle detergents" either damaged our fabrics or didn't get the job done, leaving stains. We knew we could do better. So we developed a formula with the perfect balance of powerful -- yet safe -- ingredients designed to remove tough, set-in stains while remaining gentle on luxury linens. Please connect with us at (800) 977-1841 or visit our store or email us with any product feedback or cleaning questions

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