The perks of silk pillowcases are many: They can help reduce wrinkles, split ends and frizzy hair, to name a few. They often come with a high price tag though, so you’ll want to take care of them properly to ensure they will last. Sweat, germs, body oils, hair products and makeup (though you are taking off your makeup before bed, right?) can accumulate quickly in bedding, especially your pillowcase. We consulted with experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute’s Home Care and Cleaning Lab for how to wash your silk pillowcase.
First, always check the care label or manufacturer’s website for detailed care instructions. If there is one, be sure to follow it. Our favorite pillowcase brands like Fisher’s Finery, whose silk pillowcases impressed us enough to earn the Good Housekeeping Seal, usually have detailed care instructions for their pillowcases on their website. Though it’s not common, some silk pillowcases are dry clean only, so be sure to check before you start laundering. There are two ways to wash your silk pillowcase: on a gentle cycle in the washing machine or by hand. Most silk pillowcases can be washed in the washing machine as long as steps are taken to ensure a gentle wash. Washing by hand is the most gentle approach and allows you to take extreme care when washing — important when washing a delicate silk pillowcase. The same basic step-by-step process as washing clothing by hand applies here too; just make sure to use a gentle touch and never wring or twist your pillowcase.
What You’ll Need
- Mesh laundry bag
- Gentle laundry detergent
- Clean white bath towel
How to wash a silk pillowcase in the washing machine
Most silk pillowcases have care instructions for washing in the washing machine, so make sure to follow the care label if the instructions differ.
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- Place pillowcases in a mesh laundry bag or turn inside out.
- Select a delicates cycle with cold water and wash with a gentle laundry detergent. If you have a center agitator in your machine, be careful as it can damage the fabric if not on the correct setting.
- Some brands allow for tumble drying on an air-only or low-heat cycle, but other brands recommend keeping out of the dryer, so make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. When in doubt: avoid the dryer. You can either gently squeeze (don’t wring!) the excess water from the pillowcase, or blot dry with a clean towel, and lay flat to dry.
How to hand wash a silk pillowcase
Hand washing your silk pillowcase is quite simple, and hand washing helps keep the fibers soft and shiny.
- Fill a clean sink or tub with cool water, and mix about a teaspoon of gentle laundry detergent. If there are any visible stains on your pillowcase, apply a few drops of detergent directly to the stain and gently work in with your fingertips.
- Agitate the water with your hands to create suds, then immerse the pillowcase and swish it around gently to help the water penetrate the fibers.
- Take care not to twist, wring or rub the fabric against itself as it can damage the fabric. Instead, just gently agitate the fabric (i.e., move it around in the water) with your hand to clean.
- Dump the water and refill the basin with cold water. Submerge the pillowcase again and agitate gently to get rid of any soapy residue. Repeat as needed, gently rinsing until the residue is gone.
- Gently squeeze out any excess water, taking care not to twist or wring the fabric in any way. Lay the pillowcase on a clean, white towel and roll up, gently squeezing to further dry the pillowcase. Lay flat to dry, preferably away from sunlight to protect from fading and discoloration.
- If there are wrinkles in the fabric after drying, you can either gently steam the pillowcase or iron on the lowest heat setting. Make sure to flip the pillowcase inside out and place a pressing cloth or clean piece of fabric between the iron and pillowcase.
How often should you wash your silk pillowcase?
“Silk pillowcases should be washed as frequently as regular cotton ones, which is once per week,” says Carolyn Forte, Director of the Home Care and Cleaning Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute. If you have cotton sheets but silk pillowcases, make sure to place them in a mesh laundry bag to prevent the fibers from tearing and try to avoid letting them go through the spin cycle. If all your bedding is silk (lucky you!) then you can follow this same guide for sheets too.
How to treat stains on silk pillowcases
Accidents happen to everyone, so if you find a stain on your silk pillowcase it’s best to act fast as the longer the stain sits, the harder it can be to get out. To treat stains, work a small amount of mild detergent directly onto the stain gently with your fingers and allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Then, wash the pillowcase following either of the above instructions.
Pro Tip: Avoid using any stain treatment or detergent with bleach as it will break and discolor the fibers.
How to remove wrinkles from silk pillowcases
Be very careful with heat around silk, as the high temperatures can hurt the fibers. If your pillowcases or sheets are wrinkly, either iron on the lowest setting with a pressing cloth, or bust out a steamer for a more gentle option.
Assistant to the General Manager
In addition to her job as the assistant to the general manager of the Good Housekeeping Institute, Abigail is also currently working toward her master of science in publishing in digital and print media at NYU. Prior to joining GH in 2022, she worked at LSU Press and The Southern Review. In her free time you can find her quilting, knitting, cross-stitching or working on any manner of craft.