I have long been on the record about my loyalty to silk sheets, but what I less frequently disclose is what a pain in the ass they are to wash and de-wrinkle. They’re finicky, fragile, and they’re so shiny that every wrinkle is magnified, which almost defeats the purpose of having something so obnoxiously luxurious in the first place. (Almost.) Fortunately, there are ways to wash and dry these heavenly sheets that will keep them soft and presentable.
How to wash your silk sheets
The first thing you need to know about washing your silk sheets is that you have to do it when you first get them, before you’ve ever even sleep on them. The good news, according to Mulberry Park Silks, is that they become less wrinkle-prone the more you wash them. (More on wrinkles later.)
Here’s what you should do:
- Wash the sheets and pillowcases by hand in cold water
- Turn pillowcases inside-out
- If you want to use a washing machine, be sure to use a cold delicate cycle
- Don’t wash them with any items that are not also made of silk; try to wash the sheets and pillowcases by themselves
- You can use a mesh laundry bag, but it’s not imperative
- Use a gentle silk detergent or, if that’s not available, a mild detergent with a neutral pH
When it comes time to dry these bad boys, opt for line drying. Per Mulberry Park Silks and Manito Silk, though, the key here is to keep them out of sunlight, as it can fade the color, especially on darker sheets. If you do choose to machine dry them, use the lowest temperature setting or set it to “air,” but take them out before they’re completely dry. Whether you hang them straight out of the wash or after a little time in the dryer, check them frequently; silk dries fast.
While silk is hypoallergenic and resistant to mold and dust mites, it’s still important to wash the sheets as often as you would any others, regardless of fabric type. Regular, appropriate washing will be fine for them as long as you follow those steps and don’t use bleach, fabric softener, or optical brightener.
How to de-wrinkle your silk sheets
As mentioned, these things get wrinkly—very wrinkly. That propensity will lessen the more they’re washed, but for a little while, you’ll have some relatively stiff, creased bedding.
According to Manito Silk, “any wrinkles will smooth out” once you put them back on your bed. After extensive field testing, I disagree, but you’re welcome to try it. I use a steamer to get mine crispy, but bear in mind that if this dampens them and you put them on the bed like that, you’re basically begging for them to wrinkle up again. Instead, keep them hanging up for a while after you steam them so that they dry straight.
You can also iron them, but carefully:
- Make sure pillowcases are inside-out and sheets are flipped upside-down
- Iron only where you have to
- Use the coolest setting on your iron
- Consider only ironing your pillowcases
When you want to store them, opt for a breathable bag and keep them out of sunlight. Throw some scented sachets or cedar balls in the bag to keep them fresh. Manito Silk also recommends putting the folded sheets and pillowcases under the weight of towels to keep them smooth, but be prepared, again, to steam or iron out the more severe creases.
My most egregious error has been washing mine in a regular load with all my other stuff, then having the nerve to act surprised when they come out crumpled, pilled, and full of weird-looking runs. This behavior has cost me three sets of sheets, but you can be better than me.