How to Wash Silk Pillowcases to Keep Them Feeling Luxurious

Enjoy the delicate softness of your silk pillowcase for years to come by learning how to wash it properly.

Published December 28, 2022
Cup of coffee on bed with soft silky bedclothes

You've upgraded your bedding, and that silk feels luscious against your face as you drift off to dreamland. Make sure it stays that way by learning how to wash silk pillowcases. While hand washing is the method preferred by professionals, you can throw them in the wash if you take proper precautions. It's all about making sure your silk pillowcase keeps its delightful softness.

Quick and Dirty Tips for Washing Silk Pillowcases

With silk, you'll want to check the care tag before you do anything. It's going to show quickly what you should and shouldn't do with your silk pillowcases. You might find some high-end silk pillowcases that require dry cleaning only. Those are the exception. Most silk pillowcases that I've encountered make it through the washer just fine. Just remember to follow these simple tips.

  • Use gentle laundry detergent like Woolite.
  • Only use cold water.
  • Machine wash on the delicate or gentle cycle or hand wash.
  • Use white vinegar instead of fabric softener.
  • Wash silk pillowcases you use daily every 7-14 days.

How to Pretreat Stains on Silk Pillowcases

So you forgot to take off your makeup before falling into bed. It happens to the best of us. It's what you do next that makes a difference. Pre-treat the stain right away, and then wash as normal.

Stain Cleaner Instructions
Makeup Rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide Soak a cotton ball and dab the stain.
Oil Flour Apply flour for 1 hour. Vacuum.
Dirt Laundry detergent Work in with fingers; let sit for 15 minutes. .
Blood Salt Mix 1 tsp salt with a cup of water; blot stain; rinse.

How to Machine Wash a Silk Pillowcase

Machine washing is my go-to method for anything. If it can go in the washer, it will go in the washer, no questions asked. That doesn't mean you can just chuck it in and go about your day. Machine washing silk pillowcases has some specific instructions.

  1. Set the machine to delicate with cold water.
  2. Flip the pillowcase inside out.
  3. Put it inside a mesh bag if you have one; if you don't, put it inside a cotton pillowcase.
  4. Put it in the washer.
  5. Add half of the recommended detergent for your load. (Gentle detergent, no bleach)
  6. Add about ½ cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle. (Steer clear of fabric softener.)

Optional: Pull the pillowcases out before the final spin. You have to be on top of your game to catch it, but this step can prevent wrinkles.

Instructions to Hand Wash a Silk Pillowcase

Washing Laundry by Hand

Hand washing is the lesser of the two evils for cleaning delicates like silk. If you have time to hand wash, this is the method most professionals suggest for silk. You'll still need to grab your laundry detergent and white vinegar.

  1. Fill your sink with cold water.
  2. Add between a teaspoon and ¼ cup of detergent, depending on how many pillowcases you're washing.
  3. Mix it up.
  4. Add your pillowcases.
  5. Gently agitate the pillowcases in the water. (Gentle is key here.)
  6. Drain and fill with clean, cool water.
  7. Add ½ cup of white vinegar to the rinse water.
  8. Agitate and rinse again.
  9. Continue to rinse until the water is clear with no bubbles.

How to Dry Silk Pillowcases

Sure, you can machine wash a silk pillowcase, but you don't want to put it in the dryer. Silk is pretty fragile when it's wet, and the tumbling of the dryer is harsh on the fabric. If you need your pillowcase now, you can use the lowest heat setting. Make sure you have it in a mesh bag or cotton pillowcase. Otherwise, air drying is recommended.

  1. Lay your pillowcase on a towel. (Microfiber towels work fabulously here.)
  2. Gently roll the towel to remove any water.
  3. Replace the towel and lay it flat to dry out of direct sunlight.

Use a flat surface. A drying rack or a clothesline will cause creases.

Get Wrinkles Out of a Silk Pillowcase

So, you forgot all about your silk pillowcases in the washer, and now they're full of wrinkles. You don't want your guests to see that. To de-wrinkle, steam them. This is super easy. If you don't have a steamer, ironing is an option. I highly recommend a steam iron. Iron silk pillowcases on the lowest heat setting. Be gentle, so you don't stretch the fabric.

Tips for Washing Silk Pillowcases to Keep Them Soft

Silk pillowcases can be tricky to wash at first. But if you love that creamy feeling against your skin, you learn how to care for it pretty quickly, because a well-cared-for silk bed set can last you a long time. We're talking years! Try out these tips to make your silk pillowcases last.

  • Don't use bleach. It can break down the fibers of silk.
  • Avoid fabric softener with silk pillowcases since it leaves behind a coating that can build up.
  • Alternate your washing. Machines can be hard on silk, so it's helpful to hand wash them in between machine washing.
  • Avoid putting silk pillowcases in direct sunlight.
  • Try a gentle shampoo. You can use a gentle shampoo like Ivory if you don't have Woolite on hand.
  • Avoid wringing or twisting silk pillowcases to remove water. It will stretch the fabric.
  • Roll silk pillowcases rather than folding when storing.

Simple Methods to Keep Your Silk Pillowcases Looking Like New

Silk can throw a monkey wrench into your cleaning game. It's not like you can just throw them in the washer, especially when you're paying more for them. While hand washing is recommended, you can machine wash them as long as you take a few precautions. But skip the dryer if you can.

How to Wash Silk Pillowcases to Keep Them Feeling Luxurious