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How To Wash Silk Garments Without Going To The Drycleaner

And without ruining your favourite items of clothing.

Whether it's your favourite night wear or a brand new slinky dress, silk garments need to be taken care of. Though, taking our silks to the dry cleaners every other week can become an expensive chore, yet throwing our garments in with the rest of our dirty washing could ruin the material.

Luckily, sometimes it is okay to ignore the capitalised, bold lettered DO NOT MACHINE WASH tag on your clothes. These are generally recommendation only and believe it or not, when it comes to our delicate fabrics, there are some other do-it-yourself ways to wash your silk items.

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1. Use the mildest cycle on the shortest spin

Some washing machines have a 'delicate' cycle that is made just for your softer fabric items, like silk. If this isn't an option on your machine, select a cool cycle with a wash temperature no more than 30 degrees.

Silk is sensitive to heat and when washed on a cycle that's too warm, your silk items can begin to decompose.

Also ensure your items are on the shortest spin cycle. Why is this important? Spinning silk too quickly can weaken silk fibres, causing the items to lose shape.

2. Use a mesh laundry bag or pillow case

Popping your silk garments in laundry bags will help stop them becoming tangled up in other washing during the machine cycle. Is will also help avoid snagging. Snagging?

In textiles, snagging refers to a pulled thread in the fabric caused by harsher materials that scratch or tug the silk. Think a run down the leg of a pair of tights.

Using a pillow case has the same effect as a laundry bag, keeping your delicates separate from the rest of your clothing. Make sure you secure your makeshift silk protector with elastic bands so the garments don't come loose.

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3. Hand wash

Before you begin hand washing, unless you want to end up a with wash bucket full of coloured dye and a new dress that looks ten years old and faded, check for colour fasting.

Bright, rich colours that are often found in our silk items bleed, meaning the garments will begin to lose colour. Dab a small amount of detergent and water on a cotton wool ball and test it on an inside seam of the item first.

If the colour stays put, use mild, lukewarm water, similar to a machine wash, and a non-alkaline soap (products with a pH of 7 or less). While rinsing, add a few tablespoons of white wine vinegar to help dissolve any soap residue.

For an extra silky finish, add a few drops of gentle fabric softener. None in the house? Try hair conditioner instead -- you'll get the same smooth touch and delicious smell.

4. Drying tips

To remove excess water straight after washing, lay the items flat on a towel before slowly rolling the towel. This will wring out any water the items have retained.

Always hang your silk clothing or silk sheets so the items will hold their shape. Alternatively, lay the items flat on a towel out of the direct sunlight to avoid fading.

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