Silk and Wool Care: How to take care of your silk or wool clothes at home

Silk and Wool Care: How to take care of your silk or wool clothes at home


Silk is one of the finest fibers in the world, known for its luster, shine, strength, and durability. It is the epitome of luxury. Whereas wool, which may not be as luxurious as silk, has its own set of strengths. It provides you with warmth and protection. Owning clothes made out of wool and silk is a blessing, and this blessing can be extended, if you take care of the garment properly. 

What is the difference between silk and wool?

Silk is one of the lightest fabric but on the other hand wool has a reputation to be heavy. Not surprisingly, these textiles are made up of protein fibers. However, they are made up of different types of fibers and therefore, have different qualities. While both are naturally soft, fluffy natural materials, they are also ideal for different purposes. Wool is made from the fur of animals like sheep, and silk is made from the cocoons of mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori. Wool has good insulating properties therefore it is used to create winter wear, whereas silk fabrics are light, hence it is ideal for summers. When it comes to durability, while wool is just as soft as silk, it is more durable. This is why wools are used to create outerwear primarily for daily use, whereas silks are used to create premium shirts, ties, blouses, formals, gowns and similar garments for special occasions. Even if one wears silk garments daily, one needs to take special care of the garment to make it look pristine all year round, due to the delicate nature of the fabric. 

How to take care of silk?

Customarily it is ideal to read the label primarily before washing and follow it as much as possible. Silk can be cleaned at home if wash care label is properly followed and extreme care is taken.

If the wash care label allows your silk garment to be machine cleaned, to preserve them better, turn the clothes inside out and place them in a mesh bag. It is ideal to wash silk by using no-enzyme detergent at the most delicate cold washing cycle (best at 30o C). Silks have a hard time with the heat on the low spin. If your machine has a ‘hand wash cycle’, always use that for silks. 

The second method is the hand wash method, it can be a little time-consuming, but when it comes to precious silks, it is worth it. Use cold water and no-enzyme detergent, soak for a few minutes (5 minutes approximately) then rinse the garment in a separate bowl filled with clean water. Be careful and do not wring the silk, instead, flatten the garment and use a clean, soft towel to expel the water. One can use a micro-fiber towel as it is highly absorbent.

If you are looking for enzyme free detergent, look no further. Ethiek's Silk & Wool detergent which has been imported from UK, contains no enzyme, leaves no residue, has refreshing fragrance and is sourced ethically from 100% naturally derived ingredients. Your silks will be softer than ever and will definitely thank you. This liquid detergent can be used for all types of silks and wool (for machine as well as hand wash). 

It is important to dry silks properly, as we don’t want the garment to lose its shape. Silk dries very rapidly, thus a tumble dryer is not necessary nor advised because it might harm the fabric's fibers. Do not put the garment to dry in direct sunlight. If drying outside, air dry it under shade by half folding it using a hanger to maintain the shape. 

When it comes to ironing and storing, only iron the garment if suggested on the wash care label. Set the iron at a low temperature setting, and iron the silk when little damp. Store silks in dark and dry place to prevent your fabrics from developing any rust or moisture damage. If you’re worried about your clothes getting damaged, you can also consider purchasing a garment bag or cedar chest to keep your silks safe.

How to take care of wool?

Wool has many advantages from keeping you warm during the chills of November to February to being immune to odors. The microorganisms that generally produce smells can't thrive in wool garments because wool naturally contains antibacterial lanolin oils. But it is important to wash wool periodically and religiously to avoid the deterioration of the woolen garment. Before you begin, it is significant to understand that when choosing a wool cleaner, more is not better, and you can’t just use any detergent. Always use enzyme-free liquid detergent (e.g., Ethiek Silk & Wool liquid detergent) for optimal outcomes because the enzymes present in many common surfactants can degrade wool.

The most preferred method to wash wools is the hand-wash method, as washing in a machine can de-shape the garment. Fill the basin/sink with room-temperature water and pour a scoop or capful of cleanser into the sink. Submerge the garment into the sink. Don’t forget to turn the garment inside out before submerging the garment! With your fingertips, massage the fabric while you work the soapy water into the fibers. Give the clothes at least 30 minutes to soak. Leave the wool clothes in the sink and empty the water. Water should run clean after rinsing the wool in cold water. Squeeze the water out of the garment by lining it against the sink. If washing wool in a washing machine, as the wash care label may permit, use a gentle or delicate or hand wash cycle. 

To allow the wool complete drying, lay the clothing flat on a towel or make use of a drying rack. Avoid drying wool in sunlight as the garment colour may fade. Also do not let it hang lose as it may stretch the wool fabric when wet. 

The majority of wool doesn't need to be ironed, although a brief steam press may make smooth wool finishes seem nicer. 

It is obvious that wools are kept locked for the majority of the month, especially if you live in the equatorial zone. Therefore, storing wool is one of the most important activities for longevity. Ensure the wool clothing is clean and dry before storing it since food particles and body oils can leave lasting stains and draw moths. Better still, you can preserve woolens in airtight bags or boxes. Or else, use a suitable moth repellent and silicon balls to avoid moisture and dampness.

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