4 things laundry and textile experts always do when washing silk sheets

Sleeping soundly in silk sheets all comes down to how you wash them, experts say

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Silk sheets are luxurious to sleep in but generally require a little extra care and attention to keep soft and silky.

Washing silk sheets or washing silk pillowcases incorrectly could result in a rough texture that makes sleeping uncomfortable and your bed a little disappointing. 

Despite needing more care than washing bed sheets generally, the steps are luckily quite simple – here’s what the experts do to keep silk sheets as soft as the day you bought them.

How to wash silk sheets  

When doing laundry with silk sheets and silk pillowcases, it is important to first separate them out from any other laundry that could damage the soft fabric's texture. Notably, any items with velcro, zips, or rough fabric like denim should be kept to one side – preferably grouping any silk items together and washing them on their own separate cycle. 

From there, it is all about the settings on your washing machine 

Cultiver silk pillowcase styled in white bedroom

(Image credit: Cultiver)

1. Never wash silk on a high heat

When you check the laundry symbols on any silk sheet, you will often find the recommendation to wash at a low temperature, and for good reason, explains Frej Lewenhaupt, laundry expert and co-founder of Steamery:

‘Silk has a nice luster, shine, and strength but the delicate treads are more susceptible to damage from friction, heat, and certain chemicals. Exposure to excessive heat, such as hot water or a hot ironing surface, can make the fibers weaker, losing their luster and also causing them to shrink. This is why it’s important to care properly for your silk bedding while washing.’

A 30-degree wash is more than enough when using the right detergent to kill bacteria and freshen up the fabric with the added benefit of helping you save money on laundry at the same time.

Frej Lewenhaupt
Frej Lewenhaupt

Frej Lewenhaupt is the dedicated and creative Co-founder & CEO with demonstrated history of working with design which he uses to design the best, most effective clothing care devices for household use. 

2. Always use a gentle cycle

With silk’s delicate fibers, a gentle laundry cycle is the best way to protect your best bed sheets, says Karina Toner, cleaning expert and operations manager at Spekless Cleaning – this is why it is always important to separate your laundry before washing, she adds,

‘Silk bedding can be hand-washed or machine-washed using a gentle cycle. If using a washing machine, place the silk bedding in a mesh laundry bag to minimize friction and prevent snagging, and avoid overcrowding the machine to ensure the silk isn't agitated any more than necessary,’ she recommends.

Karina Toner
Karina Toner

Karina is the Operations Manager at Spekless Cleaning, a trusted maid service based in Washington D.C. The team has over five years of experience providing top-quality cleaning services for both residential and commercial clients. Karina oversees every aspect of the business, ensuring that every client gets the same top-notch service and a spotless clean every time.

3. Pick a specialized detergent

Your usual laundry detergent may not be enough to help protect your silk fibers, Frej Lewenhaupt, laundry expert, warns, so it helps to have a specialized silk detergent on hand – and know how much detergent to use, to ensure your fabric stays soft:

‘Since silk is a delicate material, it must be washed with care and with a nourishing detergent to prevent it from losing its shape or shrinking. Look for a detergent that is gentle and designed for delicate natural protein fibers like wool and silk.

‘Avoid laundry detergents that contain protease enzymes, as these particular enzymes are known to damage and break down protein fibers.’

Heritage Park Silk & Wool Detergent | $9.99 at Amazon

Heritage Park Silk & Wool Detergent | $9.99 at Amazon
Highly rated by users, this silk and wool wash is perfect for cleansing and conditioning the most delicate of fibers.

4. Always air dry

Even the best clothes dryers can damage silk sheets, so it is important to always air dry them after washing. This helps to avoid excessive temperatures and further agitation, explains Barbara Stern of Ottoman Textiles. She recommends keeping your washed silk sheets away from direct sunlight to protect the color, and lay them out flat somewhere warm and dry, letting them dry naturally. 

‘This method ensures the fabric doesn't lose its color or become brittle,’ she explains.


How often should you wash silk sheets?

Silk sheets should be washed just as often as any other bed sheets – around once every week to every other week depending on if you have any skin conditions or if you are a hot sleeper (even more frequently if you are ill).  

Is it okay to get silk wet?

While it is perfectly fine to get silk wet, such as when washing it, water makes the fibers significantly more delicate, which is why it is prone to staining and warping. As a result, it is important to remove stains as soon as possible, avoid getting your silk wet outside of the washing machine, and make sure it dries thoroughly, laying flat to help maintain its shape and color.

If you are trying to draw out the time between washes to keep your silk sheets soft, then Frej Lewenhaupt, laundry expert, recommends using a steamer to steam clean your sheets and kill bacteria without damaging the textile fibers. It can also help to air out your bedding every morning to prevent odors from clinging to your sheets.  

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.