Anyone who’s owned silk clothing will know how delicate the fabric is. Obviously, it still needs washing and drying like anything else, but what’s the best way to do this?
And what happens if you put silk in the dryer?
That’s what we’ll look at below. We won’t cover full cleaning instructions for silk, as this generally depends on what you’re washing, and you can find that information elsewhere.
What Happens If You Put Silk in the Dryer?
The main risk of putting silk in the dryer is that the fabric will shrink or distort. It’s a very delicate fibre that’s more susceptible to creasing and shrinkage than cotton and even wool.
Therefore, the best way to dry silk is by laying it flat on a specially-designed airer.
Failing that, you can roll it in a towel to press out excess water and then lay it on a bed.
To explain why silk is more susceptible to heat damage, we need to get a bit scientific. Don’t worry though, it’s fairly basic stuff!
Silk is made of protein fibres, specifically fibroin. As you might already know, the base fibres come from silkworm cocoons, which are broken down and woven into threads.
Importantly, silk is different from cotton and other plant fibres, which are made from carbohydrates.
Protein shrinks when heat is applied. Think of it in the same way that a piece of meat shrinks when you cook it.
At the most basic level, heat causes the bonds between the amino acids in protein to break and reform. If they reform in different places, the result is shrunken fabric!
The process is exactly the same for wool, which is made from natural protein fibres called keratin.
Although wool is much less delicate than silk, much of the care guidance is the same for both materials.
Can You Put Silk in the Dryer?
Generally, you shouldn’t put silk in the tumble dryer. You might read that some people have done so and not shrunk their silk, but it’s not really a risk you want to take.
At most, you’d be able to use the cold air setting for 15 minutes or less, meaning you might as well not bother.
Some other important drying tips for silk include:
- Keep it away from other sources of direct heat, such as a radiator.
- Don’t expose it to direct sunlight, as it can bleach your silk.
- Don’t use wood clothes dryers because they can stain silk or leech colour out of it.
- Always dry silk as flat as possible to avoid creasing – you obviously can’t iron it properly.
How to Dry Silk
The best way to dry silk is to roll it in a clean towel to press out excess moisture.
Ensure your garment is lying as flat as possible on the towel and then roll it up and press down slightly. Repeat this step a few times to get the silk fairly dry.
Then, you’ll want to dry it flat. The best place to do this is probably on a bed with the silk lying on a towel. Luckily, silk dries really quickly, so it should only take a few hours.
Failing that, you could use a clothes airer with padded rails. You could use a metal or wood airer with a towel draped over it.
This should be enough to stop the silk from stretching and prevent any colour leeching into or out of the fabric.
Provided you care for your silk, you should be able to avoid any problems with shrinkage.
The number one rule for this is to keep it well away from your tumble dryer and any other direct sources of heat.
Make sure you always follow the manufacturer’s care instructions to get the most wear from your silk clothing.
Jacob is a freelance writer based in Wales, where he lives with his partner and two dogs. All his work is fuelled by extensive research and buckets of coffee.