Does Silk Shrink When Washed?

Silk is a delicate fabric that can shrink if it is not washed properly in cool water. When silk comes into contact with high heat for an extended period of time, it will cause the weave to twist and condense, which results in the shrinkage of your silk laundry. Silk clothing is comfortable, luxurious, and usually expensive; which means you should take the proper precautions when washing, drying, or ironing your silk clothing and fabrics. 

This is Does Silk Shrink When Washed?

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This article will discuss silk, shrinkage, and the proper way to wash your silk garments in order to maintain their quality.  


Does Silk Shrink When Washed?

Prolonged exposure to high levels of heat will cause silk to shrink in the wash, which is why you should always use cold water to lukewarm water and a delicate cycle to hand or machine wash your silk clothing. Heat doesn't actually shrink the silk fibers, but rather causes the fabric's weave to tighten and contract, which gives the appearance of shrinkage. 

Using cold water or lukewarm water to machine or hand wash your silk will prevent the garment from shrinking, while still effectively cleaning the garment. 

Use cool to lukewarm water to hand wash silk, with the maximum water temperature not exceeding 77°F/25°C.

When machine washing silk be sure to adjust the washer's settings to delicate/gentle cycle, and wash with cold water to maintain the size, shape, and quality of your silk garment. 

Silk will only shrink if it is washed in hot water; washing silk in cold to lukewarm water will not result in any shrinkage. 

Related: Does Silk Shrink?

How to Wash Silk

The best way to wash silk is by hand, although machine washing is sometimes also an option depending on if your garment's care label allows for it. Before you attempt to wash your silk clothing make sure to check the item's care label to see if it is dry clean only, or if you are able to machine or hand wash the item. 

To hand wash silk first fill a basin with cool to lukewarm water and add a few drops of silk laundry detergent. Turn your silk garment inside out and submerge it in the water for 3 minutes. Use your hands to gently agitate the garment in the water until you are satisfied with the results. Remove the silk from the basin and place under cold water until the water runs clear and all the soap is removed from the garment. 

To machine wash silk first turn the garment inside out and then place it into a mesh laundry bag. Enter the laundry bag into the washing machine and add a few drops of silk laundry detergent. Adjust the settings on the washing machine to delicate/gentle, wash with cold water, and the shortest wash cycle possible.

For more detailed step-by-step instructions please refer to our written guide on How to Wash Silk or watch our 7-step instructional video, below. 

Does Silk Shrink in the Dryer?

Yes, silk will shrink in the dryer. Silk will shrink when it comes into prolonged contact with high levels of heat, as it would happen in the dryer.  

The heat levels and tumble motion used by the dryer will not only shrink your 100% silk clothing but also damage it. You should never use the dryer to dry your silk garments, but instead hang or lay flat to dry in a cool place out of contact with direct sunlight. 

Never put your silk in the dryer, unless you are intentionally trying to shrink or damage it. 

Learn more by reading Does Silk Shrink in the Dryer?


How to Dry Silk

To dry silk after hand washing, first lay it evenly on an absorbent towel and then roll the towel to remove any excess water from the fabric. Next, take it to a cool dry place out of contact with direct sunlight to hang or lay flat to air dry

  • Do not pull, wring, or twist your silk garment while you are drying it.
  • Do not dry your silk in contact with direct sunlight.
  • Do not use the dryer to dry your silk items. 

Learn the detailed step-by-step process by reading How to Dry Silk

Does Silk Shrink When Washed FAQ

How much does silk shrink when washed?

Silk can shrink more than viscose, polyester, spandex, and nylon, but will shrink less than cotton, wool, linen, and rayon

Can you unshrink silk?

You can unshrink silk by using hair conditioner and baby shampoo together mixed with water. However, the best approach is to avoid shrinking your silk all together, by using cool water and the delicate settings while washing your silk clothing. 

What happens to silk if you wash it?

Washing silk should be an easy and problem free experience if you know how to do it properly. By using cold water and pH neutral silk laundry detergent, the only thing to happen while washing silk should be the cleansing and renewal of your silk outfit. 

Can you shrink silk?

You can shrink silk by placing it into the washing machine or dryer and then adjusting the heat settings to the highest levels possible

Can you steam silk?

Steaming is a great way to get wrinkles out of silk. Steam silk clothing with long downward strokes while also using your free hand to pull and stretch the garment to help remove creases in wrinkle prone areas.