Many people are hesitant about buying garments or bedding made from silk. The main reason is that they think taking care of silk is too complicated and time-consuming.
While silk needs a little more care, it’s not that much more complicated.
You solve the biggest problem when you learn which laundry detergent to use for your silk items.
This article will help you find the answers to your questions about laundry detergent for silk and why you must use a pH neutral laundry detergent for silk.
What is a pH Neutral Laundry Detergent?
The pH scale goes from 1-14. It shows how acidic/basic a liquid is (anything below 7 is acidic, and everything over 7 is basic).
A pH-neutral laundry detergent has a pH of 7, which means it’s neither acidic nor basic. Feel free to learn more about pH neutral cleaners here in our detailed guide which includes multiple lists of different types of cleaning products.
Why Wash Silk in pH Neutral Laundry Detergents?
Most people don’t know this: pH levels are pretty important when it comes to cleaning.
A laundry detergent with a high pH value might be great for getting rid of the worst stains by breaking them down, but they are not safe to use on silk because they will not only break down the dirt but also damage the delicate fabric’s structure.
A pH neutral laundry detergent for silk will be gentler and still take care of stains while not being too hard on the silk itself (and is also better for your skin).
5 Best pH Neutral Laundry Detergents for Silk
The Heritage Park Silk &Wool pH-Neutral Laundry Detergent is a concentrated laundry detergent for up to 64 washes (or up to 128 if you order the biggest bottle).
You can buy it in various sizes with a lovely lavender fragrance or fragrance-free. There is also a trial-sized bottle which is very small but perfect if you want to test the product before investing in a bigger bottle.
The pH neutral detergent comes in a nicely designed bottle with a handy measuring cap that makes it easy to pour the perfect amount of detergent into your washing machine.
This pH neutral laundry detergent for silk can also be used for other organic fabrics and provides a gentle but effective clean with cold water. The big plus of this detergent is that the ingredient list is shorter than other detergents’ ingredient lists.
It is free of phosphates, dyes, sulfates, chlorines, bleach, and brighteners. This does not only mean it’s perfect for silk but also suitable for people with sensitive skin (unless you are allergic to one of the ingredients).
Both detergents are suitable for washing silk (and other delicate washable fabrics like cashmere, wool, bamboo, and more).
The Le Blanc silk laundry detergent is 100% biodegradable and is free of bleach, caustics, enzymes, phosphates, and sulfates.
Both versions have a neutral pH and are meant to be used with cold water (which you should be using to wash silk in the washing machine anyway!).
The Le Blanc Silk laundry detergents are effective at getting rid of stains on silk while being gentle enough to not cause damage to the delicate fabric.
These detergents are ideal for people who want their silk to smell nice for quite a while.
3. Slip Gentle Silk Wash for Slip Silk Pillowcases
Like most pH neutral silk detergents, Slip Gentle Silk Wash for Slip Silk Pillowcases is designed to be used with cold water. It comes in one size only (30 fl oz) and is fragrance-free.
As the name implies, it is designed to be used for washing silk pillowcases – the Slip Pillowcases, to be precise. However, that should not stop you from using it for other delicates, as the formula is suitable for all silk.
This pH neutral laundry detergent for silk is ideal for people with sensitive skin or allergies. It is free of phosphates, sulfates, and enzymes.
The ingredients also do not include any synthetic fragrances, dyes, or harsh chemicals.
The Heritage Park All-Purpose pH-neutral laundry detergent is not explicitly called a silk detergent. Still, it is safe to use on silk as it is a pH-neutral detergent. You only need to use a small amount of detergent to see results.
The hypoallergenic and dermatologist-tested formula is excellent for people with sensitive skin. This is particularly important if you prefer to hand-wash your silk. This product almost feels like a lovely soap and will not irritate your hands.
This ph neutral laundry detergent comes in various sizes and three different scents: fragrance-free, lavender, and shore breeze. A trial size is available to check whether you like this detergent before opting for a full-sized version.
Heritage Park also has a dedicated silk detergent line which is even better for washing silk garments. But if you only wash silk now and then and don’t want to have more laundry detergent bottles around, then this all-purpose detergent will do the job.
Suppose you prefer entirely plant-based and eco-friendly cleaning products. In that case, ECOS® Hypoallergenic Laundry Detergent will be the best choice for you.
It comes in two different fragrances: magnolia and lily or lemongrass. Each bottle contains 100 fl oz and lasts for up to 100 washes.
This planet-friendly pH neutral laundry detergent for silk contains no dyes, optical brighteners, parabens, phosphates, and no other harmful chemicals. The pH-balanced, vegan formula is hypoallergenic, and U.S. EPA Safer Choice certified.
Unlike other detergents that are specifically made to be used on silk, this one is more of an all-purpose detergent and even has a fabric conditioner built in.
With only seven ingredients, this is one of the best choices for people who want an all-purpose laundry detergent that is safe to use for delicate fabrics like silk. Always follow the instructions and do not use more detergent than necessary.
Washing Silk FAQs
Can I Use a Wool-Specific Laundry Detergent on Silk?
You can if you keep a few things in mind.
While wool is a natural fabric like silk, it is a lot sturdier, meaning that laundry detergents designed for wool could be too strong for silk.
You must ensure that the laundry detergent also mentions silk in its description. Another thing to look out for is that the detergent is pH neutral.
What Happens if You Use a Non-pH Neutral Detergent on Silk?
Silk is a very delicate, natural fabric. A detergent that is not pH neutral will cause damage over time. Why?
Silk prefers a neutral pH value to stay in shape.
Without getting too much into science: Silk is a folded, insoluble protein, not a synthetic material. As such, the pH value of its environment plays a crucial role.
Simply put: regularly using a non-pH neutral detergent on silk will cause the protein to unfold itself. You may not notice it right away, but the damage happens.
Read Related: How to Tell If Your Silk Is Ruined?
Can You Wash Silk in a Washing Machine?
It depends. You can wash some silk items in a washing machine. And others you need to take to a dry-cleaner, e.g. because they are not color-fast. The label will tell you if that is the case.
Many silk garments will have a label that says “hand wash only”.
Hand-washing silk is the safest option. But most people do not know that you can still wash these items in your washing machine if you take the necessary precautions!
The first step is to not put the silk garment straight into the washing machine as it is. You need to buy a mesh bag designed for use in washing machines.
Place your silk garment into that bag. Make sure your washing machine is set on the DELICATES or GENTLE cycle, and choose cold water. Add laundry detergent according to the instructions and you are good to go.
Only wash silk with other silk, as less delicate items can cause damage to silk fibers by rubbing against them.
Read Related: Can You Wash Silk That Says Dry Clean Only?
Can You Dry Silk in the Dryer?
No, the one thing you should never do is to place your silk garments into a tumble dryer, as this will be a death sentence for silk. The direct heat is just not ideal for silk.
Keeping that in mind, you also should not place silk in direct sunlight to dry it – as this can also cause damage to the fabric and fading of colors.
While you do need to keep a few things in mind when it comes to washing and drying silk, the little extra effort is well worth it.
If you use a good quality pH-neutral laundry detergent for silk and follow the steps mentioned above, you can enjoy your silk garments and silk bedding for a long time.
Jamie is the Founder of My Home Dwelling. He is a homeowner and enjoys sharing his homeowner tips with others. He has real estate experience working as a new home construction Realtor. Jamie has worked on numerous residential construction sites helping with interior and exterior renovations. He loves refinishing furniture, DIY home projects, and sharing his knowledge online.