Written by Grove Collaborative

How to wash a silk pillowcase.

Last Updated: November 23, 2021


Silk pillowcases and sheets need to be washed, just like cotton and linen ones. So can you really just throw silk in the washer?

Today, silk is well-known for its smooth texture, sheen, and overall decadence—characteristics that are also favorable to your skin and hair, especially while you sleep.


But, silk pillowcases and sheets need to be washed, just like cotton and linen ones. So can you really just throw silk in the washer?


We’ve got the answers to these questions and more, as well as a little history on silk to impress your friends at the next trivia night.

What is silk?

Silk is a naturally occurring protein fiber produced by one of several species of silkworms. According to the International Sericulture Commission (yes, there is such a thing), the grand majority of commercial silk, approximately 90%, is from the mulberry silkworm (Bombyx mori L).


Each cocoon yields roughly 1,000 yards of weavable yarn that has been cultivated since the 3rd century BCE.


Sericulture, or raw silk production, first began in China and then eventually spread to India, Persia, Syria, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Despite a dip in demand in the 1930s due to the development of nylon, silk has yet to lose its unique appeal.

What are the benefits of silk and silk pillowcases?

Silk is durable, hypoallergenic, temperature regulating, and smooth in texture—all things that make it ideal for pillowcases that touch your skin and hair.


Here’s why: Cotton pillowcases are much more absorbent than silk. This depletes your skin and hair of its moisture while you sleep, leaving it dried out by morning.


Additionally, because silk is so smooth, it’s also gentle on your skin and hair follicles. Friction from rougher materials can leave hair tangled, knotted, and frizzy and skin rough, red, and irritated.


Lastly, silk is also a very breathable, temperature regulating fabric, which lends itself to a good night’s rest. Say hello to good hair/skin days and goodbye to just-woke-up face creases!

What happens to silk when you wash it?

Two common things can occur when washing your silk items, either by hand or in the washing machine.


  1. Certain smooth silks can take on some texture (however, the texture this effect won’t affect the benefits to skin and hair)
  2. Dye bleed is to be expected, particularly if it’s your first time washing your silk items. This won’t result in lasting color loss but could potentially stain other items in the same wash load.

Don’t worry, even though there are some side effects to washing silk, we’ve got tips and a step-by-step guide below to wash your silk pillowcase so it lasts.

How to wash a silk pillowcase: A step-by-step guide

Washing by hand is the best way to extend the life of your pillowcase. However, if you’re in a pinch and looking to save time, a machine wash is also perfectly fine.


Whatever you do, make sure to avoid high heat (use cool water instead) and harsh chemicals (e.g. fabric softener, bleach, etc.).


What you need to wash a silk pillowcase


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Steps for hand washing a silk pillowcase

  1. Pre-treat any stains with a dab of gentle detergent, using your fingers to massage detergent into fabric. Let stand for 10–15 minutes before washing.
  2. Fill a large basin with cold water and 2T of detergent. Agitate to mix.
  3. Submerge pillowcases in solution and allow to soak for 30 minutes.
  4. Run pillowcase under the sink until there's no more soap run-off.
  5. Squeeze as much water as you can from the pillowcase without stressing the fabric by wringing, twisting it out.
  6. Allow to air dry. If you’re in a rush, partially dry on the lowest dryer setting and finish by air drying.

Steps for washing a silk pillowcase in the washing machine

  1. Pre-treat any stains with a dab of gentle detergent, using your finger to massage into the fabric. Let stand for 10-15 minutes before washing.
  2. Turn pillowcases inside out and place in a mesh laundry bag.
  3. Wash on cold, gentle, low spin in a delicate cycle using a mild detergent.
  4. Remove from washing immediately when the cycle is complete to avoid wrinkles.
  5. Allow to air dry. If you’re in a rush, partially dry on the lowest dryer setting and finish by air drying.

Final tips and reminders for washing silk

  1. Dye bleed is normal, especially during your first wash/soak. Be conscientious of other items being washed with your silk pillowcases.
  2. You can use the steam setting on your iron to get out any undesired creases.
  3. Hand washing and air drying are best to extend the life of your silk pillowcases.

Browse more natural bedroom items for a peaceful sleep

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