How to wash a silk pillowcase without ruining it – the golden expert rules to follow

Washing a silk pillowcase is easy when you know how to do it – this is how experts avoid ruining this delicate piece of bedding

Lanham silk pillowcase
(Image credit: Future PLC/Jan Balwin)

Silk pillowcases are said to be the antidote to hair frizz, as well as development of wrinkles and fine lines owing to their smooth feel. But in order for your pillowcase to stay looking and feeling its best you need to know how to wash a silk pillowcase.

In fact, silk sheets help you sleep better in general. And they’re by no means cheap so it’s worth learning how to properly care for them so that they don’t get ruined in the process and can keep serving you for years to come.

That’s why we picked our experts’ brains about how to wash silk pillowcases, what products to use and how often it should be done.

Dorma Rose Silk Pillowcase

(Image credit: Dunelm)

How to wash a silk pillowcase 

If you figured out where to buy the best bedding and you opted for silk pillowcases, the next step is finding out how to clean them correctly so that they stay in their top condition for as long as possible.

‘This fabric is the superior alternative when it comes to bedding, not only is it good for your hair and skin, but it’s also naturally hypoallergenic and thermoregulating, so you can say goodbye to the very warm and sleepless nights,’ starts Joanna Ross, general manager of design at luxury bedding brand Sheridan.

So better take good care of it.

A bed with pink bedding matching pink floral wallpaper

(Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

Hand wash vs washing machine

If you’ve decided to dress your best pillow in a silk pillowcase (a choice with our stamp of approval), you’re probably wondering whether you should hand wash your case or if it’s safe to put it in the washing machine.

While hand washing is the safer option, you can also opt for your washing machine’s gentle cycle.

‘For silk, we recommend using a warm gentle machine wash at 40 degrees and remove it promptly from the washing machine once completed,’ Joanna says. ‘The gentle wash cycle protects the fibres used. With the slow cycle, the products are left in the washing machine for a longer period of time ensuring dirt and body oils are removed completely and all detergent is rinsed out of the fabric properly.’

Silk Hair & Skin Beauty Pillowcase

(Image credit: The White Company)

But while Joanna advises to opt for a warm water setting of 40 degrees, Petya Holevich, Fantastic Services' house cleaning expert and supervisor, disagrees, recommending the cold water setting, as well as using cold water when hand washing. ‘Rinse in cold water to maintain the silk's shine and prevent shrinking,’ she says.

Joanna adds, ‘Warm water temperature setting is more effective at removing dirt and natural body oils and more importantly in removing chemical residue of the detergents from the fabric. Detergent residue will deteriorate the fabric fibres if they are not rinsed out properly.’

But avoid excess heat as that will certainly damage the silk.

Lanham silk pillowcase

(Image credit: Sheridan)

What products to use

According to experts, using regular washing detergent is not recommended. Instead, use a product designed for delicate fabrics.

‘Use mild pH-neutral detergent specifically designed for delicate fabrics,’ Petya says. ‘This fabric is protein-based and it’s very important to avoid using harsh chemicals when washing them, which also includes soap.’

Joanna continues, ‘Use a wool or silk detergent. We recommend using a detergent that is free from optical brightening agents (OBAs) and bleaching agents. This is a very common ingredient in most of the detergents and is great for keeping whites, white, however can also weaken and discolour certain fabric fibres.’

Fabric softeners are also best to be skipped. But these are some of our favourite laundry detergents for delicates:

How often should you wash your silk pillowcase?

‘Silk pillowcases should be washed every 1 to 2 weeks, which will help maintain their cleanliness without exposing them to excessive washing, which can lead to fading and damage,’ Petya explains. ‘Besides that, if you use skincare or haircare products that may transfer onto the pillowcase, it'll be necessary to wash them more frequently.’

That’s pretty often.

FAQs

Can you machine wash silk pillowcases?

‘Hand washing is the recommended option, but if you're using a washing machine, place the pillowcases in a mesh laundry bag and select the delicate or silk cycle,’ Petya says.

What happens if you wash silk with normal detergent?

There’s a reason why experts don’t recommend using regular detergent on delicate fabrics like silk. And that reason is potential destruction of your favourite pillowcase.

‘Silk items should be cleaned with a special detergent for delicate fabrics, otherwise, they’ll be damaged. Avoid bleach and fabric softeners because they can damage the silk fibres. Instead, stick to gentle detergents without harsh chemicals,’ Petya advises.

Once you’re finished washing your silk pillowcase, whether that’s in the washing machine or by hand, just lay it flat on a clean, dry towel and let it air dry there.

Sara Hesikova
News Writer

Sara Hesikova has been Ideal Home’s News Writer since July 2023, bringing the Ideal Home’s readership breaking news stories from the world of home and interiors. Graduating from London College of Fashion with a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism in 2016, she got her start in niche fashion and lifestyle magazines like Glass and Alvar as a writer and editor before making the leap into interiors. She feels the two are intrinsically connected - if someone puts an effort into what they wear, they most likely also care about what they surround themselves with.