How to wash a silk pillowcase

For many of us, there’s no better feeling than sliding into a beautifully soft, silky smooth bed that has been freshly washed. The pillows have been freshly plumped, the crinkles have been removed from the sheets and the duvet is a fluffy cloud that smells amazing. Of course, creating this in your own home takes a little effort, especially if your bedding is crafted from that luxurious material we adore so much; silk.

Silk is a delicate material that, due to its structural makeup, requires a careful and gentle cleaning routine. From a silky-smooth, frictionless feel to the additional benefits of pure silk, such as providing a safe, hypoallergenic environment to sleep, there are so many health and beauty benefits of silk that diminish over time without proper care. Ensure you protect and preserve your silk pillowcase by following our step-by-step guide on how to wash a silk pillowcase.

How to wash silk pillowcase in the washing machine

In all the times you’ve wondered how to wash your silk pillowcase, you may have considered a variety of options. Most people think that the easiest or safest way to wash a silk pillowcase would be to take it to be dry cleaned or by hand washing but, on the contrary, the best way to wash a silk pillowcase is by using the washing machine. Of course, it’s not as simple as throwing it in alongside your usual laundry. Instead, silk pillowcases require a gentler cycle, a special detergent and a careful post-wash routine. In order to help keep your silk pillowcases in the best condition possible, follow these steps:

Step 1: Prepare your silk pillowcase for washing

When it comes to washing your silk bedding in the washing machine, there are a few things you can do beforehand to help protect the delicate material as much as possible. For silk pillowcases, we recommend washing them inside out. This means that the side which rests against the skin during the night is subject to less abrasion during the washing process than the inside. Alternatively, or additionally if you’d like to be extra careful, you can place the silk pillowcase in a ‘delicates’ washing bag which will limit the strain on the fabric even further. It is also very important to wash your silk pillowcase on its own or alongside other silk fabrics; do not mix other fabrics into the same wash as your silk pillowcase as these could rub against the silk and damage the material. 

Step 2: Use a gentle silk detergent

Unlike your usual laundry, which will most likely be washed with a standard washing detergent and fabric softener combination, silk pillowcases require more specialist care. For starters, laundry additives such as fabric softener and bleach should never be used when washing any kind of silk, including a silk pillowcase. This is because they contain harsh chemicals that can do lasting damage to silk. For very similar reasons, traditional detergent is also to be avoided. Instead, we recommend sourcing a special silk detergent, such as Gingerlily’s Liquid Silk Wash which is specially designed to protect and preserve the natural qualities of your silk pillowcase. Only a very small amount of silk detergent is needed.

 Step 3: Program the correct cycle 

Once your silk pillowcase is safely folded inside out and you’ve added a small amount of your chosen silk detergent, it’s time to choose the right cycle for washing. Most washing machines will have a pre-programmed ‘delicates’ option which will provide a gentler wash for your silk pillowcase. Before setting it off though, ensure your wash program is set to a low temperature of 30 degrees, any higher than this and your silk pillowcase could be damaged by the heat.

Step 4: Dry your silk pillowcase

Now that your silk pillowcase is clean, the next step is to ensure it’s dried properly. The best way to dry a silk pillowcase is to simply line dry. This allows you to avoid the excessive heat and wrinkling that silk is exposed to in a tumble dryer whilst simultaneously encouraging the pillowcase to dry straight without forming any wrinkles. Simply hang your pillowcase on a clothes horse inside the home or outside in the fresh air.

Step 5: Iron and steam your silk pillowcase

Once your silk pillowcase is completely dry, you might notice that it’s lacking some of its original shine and softness. While the pillowcase is itself fully clean at this stage in the process and can be put back onto your bed, one last step can help to return your freshly cleaned silk pillowcase to its original lustre: ironing.

The thought of ironing your silk pillowcase may seem a little worrying as usually avoiding heat is the safest way to protect the delicacy of silk but, done properly, there’s nothing to be concerned about. Simply lay your silk pillowcase flat on an ironing board and cover it with a clean tea towel - this will provide an extra layer of protection between the silk material and the heat of the iron. Ensuring your iron is filled with water and is set to a low to medium heat, gently run the iron over the covered silk pillowcase, steaming gently as you go. This extra step will restore the suppleness and softness of your silk pillowcase, leaving it shimmering and beautiful.

Care for your silk pillowcase with help from Gingerlily

At Gingerlily, we understand all the special needs of silk and know that, only when silk receives the care and attention it needs will it be able to deliver on the incredible properties it’s been revered for. 

Get the most from your silk pillowcases wash after wash with Gingerlily’s special Liquid Silk Wash. Your beautiful silk pillowcases should last for years when properly cared for and, when the time comes to replace them, or to add to your collection, there are plenty of stylish designs and colours to choose from in Gingerlily’s luxurious silk pillowcase collection.