You have spent quite a bit of money on your silk bedding or garments, but they somehow do not feel right any longer after a while.
Maybe you have taken an expensive silk dress to a dry cleaner that is NOT specialized in cleaning clothing made from silk. To your shock, they have ruined the dress (you would not be the first person this has happened to).
Now you are wondering whether your silk is totally ruined or whether there is a way to restore it to its original feel.
If you are wondering how to tell if your silk is ruined from washing, sunlight, heat, or friction, you have come to the right place.
You can tell if silk is ruined when it no longer feels smooth, it feels bumpy, it feels weak and thin, it has visible tears, it looks discolored, it feels stiff, or it is smaller than it used to be.
Fortunately, not all hope is lost when there are only minor issues with your silk garments or silk bedding. There are ways you can fix or repair certain types of damage.
How to Tell if Your Silk is Damaged from Washing?
You can tell your silk is damaged from washing if it feels stiff, looks thin, tears easily, has lost its shine, or looks discolored/patchy.
These types of damage can often be traced back to:
- using the wrong detergent for silk,
- washing silk at a high temperature,
- washing it with non-delicate fabrics,
- using the wrong kind of stain remover,
- or using the wrong setting on the washing machine.
- machine washing “dry-clean only” silk
Read our related article: Can You Wash Silk That Says Dry Clean Only?
Will Silk Get Ruined in the Washer?
Yes, but only if you are careless and ignore all warnings. If you wash silk in hot water, you will ruin it. If you use a laundry detergent with a high pH, silk will get ruined in the washer.
Silk will also get ruined in the washer if you do not wash it in a mesh bag to protect it from damage and if you wash it with non-delicate materials (e.g. jeans).
Can You Ruin Silk by Hand Washing it?
You are less likely to ruin silk by hand washing it. However, you can cause damage if you use the wrong laundry detergent, use hot water, or handle your silk items too roughly.
If you wonder how to tell if silk is ruined by hand washing it, you simply need to compare the state of your silk item after washing and drying it with its original, undamaged state.
How to Tell if Your Silk is Damaged from Heat?
Heat will cause silk to shrink. A prolonged exposure to the heat outside, i.e. in direct sunshine, can also cause the colors of your silken garments to fade.
Will Silk Get Ruined in the Dryer?
Yes, trying to dry silk in a dryer will damage your silk items. You might even ruin them for good.
Silk needs to be air-dried – but avoid hot, direct sunlight as this can also cause issues.
Can Smoking Damage Silk Clothes?
Yes, it can. Apart from apparent burn damage, there are two other issues:
- small soot particles can land on your silk clothing,
- cigarette smoke will infuse your silk clothing with an unpleasant scent.
While you can fix both issues, removing smoke damage from silk garments is more involved as you can’t use harsh chemicals.
How to Tell if Your Silk Has Been Scuffed or Scratched?
The only way to tell if your silk has been scuffed or scratched is to use two of your senses: vision and touch.
Feel the silk with your hands and look at the silk item’s various areas. Scuffed or scratched areas will feel less smooth and are usually visible.
Can Silk Become Stained?
Yes, silk can become stained for various reasons – just like any other fabric.
Stains found on silk include wine stains, ink stains, milk stains, stains from sweat, and more. Before you attempt to remove a stain on silk or let a dry cleaner remove it, you need to know what caused the stain.
Can Rainwater Damage Silk?
Rainwater does not ruin silk in the sense that it destroys or ruins it.
However, rainwater can leave water stains on your silk.
Can You Fix Ruined Silk?
Maybe. It depends on whether your silk item is only damaged or properly ruined.
You can fix some damage to silk clothing or bedding. For example, it is possible to restore shine and softness to silk by giving it a mild vinegar bath (do not use strong cleaning vinegar for this!).
Mix a quarter cup of vinegar with a gallon of warm (not hot) water.
Soak the silk in the mixture, then rinse it in a different bowl with clean water to remove the scent of vinegar. Then you dry the silk as you usually would.
You can also attempt to remove stains and discolorations from silk – though this is a job better left to professionals.
If your silk has tears, you could also try to fix this. Still, it depends a lot on your skills (or whether you know any professional specializing in repairing silk items). You can either use sewing or fusible fabric to fix torn silk items.
Can You Unshrink Silk?
You can try, but the chance of success is not very high. Silk is a natural fiber and shrinks when exposed to heat. You can try the following method to try and unshrink silk:
- put some lukewarm water into a bowl that is big enough to fit in your silk garment,
- put a tablespoon of hair conditioner or baby shampoo in the lukewarm water,
- place the item you want to unshrink into the water,
- let it soak for 30-60 minutes,
- take your silk item out of the water,
- put it on a large bath towel (and no, you do NOT squeeze out the excess water),
- roll the towel with the silk item into a long noodle shape; the towel will soak up a lot of the water from the silk,
- let it sit in that shape for 15 minutes,
- unroll the silk and towel,
- place the damp silk on a different, dry bath towel,
- gently grab opposite sides of the item and gently tug the fabric to stretch it (if a shirt, start at the shoulders and work your way down bit by bit),
- once you have finished stretching one area, you need to secure it with a heavy object so that the silk will stay in place,
- then you work your way along the whole silk item, make sure you don’t jump from top to bottom, move slowly and stretch one area after the other, ending with securing it with a heavy item,
- let the item dry with the heavy weights on top.
You may or may not have success with this method. If you do not manage to unshrink silk, consider giving it to someone who could wear an item that size or what else you could do with it before throwing it away.
If you came to this article because you were wondering how to tell if silk is ruined, you have hopefully found the answer to your question.
Unfortunately, there are many ways to ruin silk. Fortunately, there are also a few ways to try and save your precious silk items.
Now that you know how to tell if your silk is ruined, it will be easier for you to recognize the signs early before it is too late to attempt a rescue.
Of course, the best thing to do is to take care of your silk as best as possible.
This means you need to learn how to store your silk, how to wash it, how important it is to use a neutral pH laundry detergent for silk, and how to dry it without causing damage.