silk pillowcase

How to Wash a Silk Pillowcase

Silk bedding adds a touch of luxury to your bedroom. And although silk is one of the finest and softest textiles around, it still has to be cleaned and maintained like any other kind of material.

So, how do you keep your silk pillowcases in pristine condition? Read on to learn the perfect washing technique that’ll keep your cases cleaner for longer!

Silk is a natural, protein rich fibre that needs to be cared for in a specific way. Not caring for this delicate material correctly often leads to the silk getting damaged beyond repair.

Find out how to maintain your silk pillowcases below, so you can get years of use out of them.


Things to Know Before Washing a Silk Pillowcase

Below you’ll find a handful of points that’ll come in handy when you’re washing your silk pillowcases.

  • Always read the tag to find out how to wash your pillowcases. You’ll also find out how to dry the cases here.
  • It’s better to wash silk items on their own. So, don’t go washing your silk cases alongside other materials.
  • You might find it easier to stick your silk pillowcases in a mesh laundry bag to wash them. This is particularly useful if you’re washing other silk bedding of the same colour, but you want to keep control of your cases.
  • Turn your pillowcases inside out before washing them.
  • When cleaning any kind of delicate material by hand, you should remove any jewellery you’re wearing first. A ring could easily catch and snag a piece of delicate material like silk.
  • You should use cold water when cleaning silk.

products to use for silk pillowcase

  • You should use a detergent that is delicate and silk friendly, like Ecover Delicate Laundry Liquid for Wool and Silk or Persil Silk and Wool Washing Liquid. The detergent you use needs to be enzyme free and bleach free.
  • Don’t wring and scrunch the water out of your silk pillowcases!
  • You don’t need to use fabric softener.
  • Test out your chosen cleaning solution before you use it to clean your pillowcases. Choose a discreet, inner seam on one of the cases and dab some detergent onto it, then wait and see what happens. If there are no adverse effects, you can continue to use the detergent.
  • If you’ve got pillowcases that are labelled as ‘dry clean only’, you should only dry clean them. If you don’t follow these instructions, you run the risk of ruining your pillowcases.
  • You can wash your silk pillowcases alongside other silk items as long as they’re the same colour, and all the items are made from silk. This is most commonly known as a ‘silk only load’.


How to Wash Silk Pillowcases in the Washing Machine

silk on washing machine

Below you’ll find a step-by-step guide on cleaning silk pillowcases in a washing machine. And although most silk pillowcases can be washed in a machine, you must always check the tags on your pillowcases before you try this method out.

What you need:

Steps to follow:

  1. Have a quick look inside your washing machine and make sure it’s empty.
  2. Turn your pillowcases inside out.
  3. Read the tag on each pillowcase to see how it should be washed. If the label states that machine washing is fine, you can proceed with this method.
  4. Pre-treat any stains by applying some silk friendly detergent to the stained area(s). Leave the detergent to work into the patch for 15 minutes, and then continue to clean the cases.
  5. Pop your pillowcases into a mesh laundry bag. Two pillowcases per bag will do.
  6. Place the mesh bag inside the washing machine’s drum.
  7. Select the gentle cycle/delicate cycle.
  8. Add a silk friendly detergent to the machine.
  9. Make sure the water temperature is set as ‘cold’.
  10. Tell the appliance not to spin the silk pillowcases at the end of the cycle.
  11. Start the cycle.
  12. Remove the mesh laundry bag from the machine.
  13. Remove the pillowcases from the mesh bag as soon as possible. If you leave the cases in the bag for too long, they’ll end up getting creased.
  14. Continue to the drying phase.


How to Wash Silk Pillowcases by Hand

woman handwashing black silk

Cleaning silk pillowcases by hand is a very straightforward process, you just need to be very gentle! Follow the process outlined below to remove the dirt from your pillowcases.

What you will need:

Steps to follow:

  1. Choose a washing area and make sure it’s clean. A sink, bucket or bathtub would do the trick.
  2. Pop some gloves on to protect your hands.
  3. Pre-treat stains by dabbing some silk friendly detergent onto the stained area(s), leave it for 15 minutes, and then move on to the cleaning phase.
  4. Fill the washing area up with cold water.
  5. Add a measure of silk friendly detergent to the water, like Persil Silk and Wool Washing Liquid (see the packaging for the exact dose).
  6. Turn all of your pillowcases inside out. This will protect the silk’s fibres.
  7. Pop a pillowcase at a time into the water.
  8. Make sure the pillowcase is completely covered with water.
  9. Start to agitate the case when it is in the water. Don’t be rough and don’t agitate the pillowcase too much.
  10. Continue to clean the whole pillowcase.
  11. When you’ve cleaned the pillowcase, you can drain the dirty water away.
  12. Hold the silk pillowcase under the cold water tap and rinse all the detergent off it. Make sure there are no suds left.
  13. Dry the silk pillowcase and repeat the cleaning steps above for your other cases.


How to Dry Silk Pillowcases

Below you’ll find some drying methods that are suitable for silk pillowcases. Ideally, you should start with one of the ‘towel drying’ methods and then move on to another drying option that’s listed below.

By starting with a towel drying method, you can extract a lot of liquid from the cases, in turn, you might speed up the drying process.

Towel drying

Method 1

Lay a clean, white towel on a flat surface and pop a single silk pillowcase on the towel. Make sure the pillow case is spread out and that it isn’t crumpled up.

After you’ve done this, you can start to roll the towel up with the silk case inside.

As you’re rolling you can press down on the towel very carefully to remove excess moisture from the pillowcase.

Method 2

Place a clean, white towel on a flat surface and pop a single silk pillowcase on the towel. Make sure the pillow case is spread out on the towel.

Then grab a second clean, white towel and start blotting the whole pillowcase dry. This method is a tad more time consuming.

Air drying outside

air drying pillowcase outside

The easiest way to dry silk pillowcases is to hang them up on the line outside.

Leaving the pillowcases to blow in a gentle breeze is ideal. But make sure you don’t leave the cases in direct sunlight because this causes fading!

It’s also worth pegging the silk cases up with soft pegs – don’t choose hard wooden ones that could snag the material.

Air drying inside

If you cannot hang your pillow cases up outside, you could hang them up inside and create an artificial breeze by popping a fan near the pillowcases.

This gentle breeze should be strong enough to move the pillowcases ever so gently, and, in turn, they should dry.

Heated airer

If you’ve got a heated airer at home, you can pop the silk pillowcases on it to dry them. Keep a close eye on the pillowcases during this process.

Tumble dryer (as a last resort)

It’s not advisable to dry silk pillowcases in a tumble dryer because the intense agitation and heat isn’t good for the material.

But if you must use a dryer to dry your pillowcases, only use air or a very low temperature setting, and continuously check your pillowcases throughout the short cycle.


FAQs on Washing Silk Pillowcases

washing silk clothes

How often should you wash a silk pillowcase?

Silk pillowcases should be cleaned on a regular basis just like any other type of bedding. You should aim to wash your silk pillowcases every seven to ten days at a minimum. 

Cleaning your pillowcases frequently will keep them hygienic for you, and it’ll also protect the cases’ lifespans.


How do you get stains out of silk?

Getting a stain off a delicate material like silk isn’t the easiest job in the world, but it isn’t impossible to clean marks away. And, ideally, you should pre-treat stains before you wash the pillowcases.

There are a few products you could try out, these include:

See our guide to removing stains from silk for more tips.


How do you wash a silk pillowcase for the first time?

You can wash a silk pillowcase for the first time by using any of the cleaning methods listed above. Just make sure that you choose a delicate washing cycle/hand wash and use a silk friendly detergent.

white silk fabric


Can you put 100% silk in the washing machine?

Yes, you can put 100% silk in a washing machine as long as the care tag states it is safe to do so.


Should you wash a silk pillowcase before using it for the first time?

Yes, you should wash your silk pillowcases before you use them for the first time.

This initial wash will remove any bacteria and dust that might’ve landed on the material during the manufacturing and transportation processes.

It’ll also remove the grime that fell onto the cases as they sat on a shelf in a shop. Such a wash will ensure that your pillowcases are hygienic and safe for you to use.


Can you wash silk with just cold water?

It is possible to put silk pillowcases in just cold water, but cold water alone isn’t likely to clean the grime off the cases for you.

To remove general dirt found on pillowcases, bodily fluids and sweat, for example, you need to mix water with a silk friendly detergent.

The detergent will break down the dirt and will clear it away, and in turn, your pillowcases will be hygienic.