The beautiful sheen and luxurious feel of silk comes with a price: The delicate fabric requires extra care when it comes to washing, drying and getting wrinkles out. Clothing, bedding and other items made of silk are usually labeled with the recommendation to hand wash or dry clean and to air dry only. When an item gets wrinkled, this makes the go-to methods of ironing, steaming and using a dryer seem too risky to use with silk. However, it is possible to get wrinkles out of silk using a dryer with an appropriate heat-free setting and a cautious approach.
Gentler Methods for Getting Wrinkles Out of Silk
Before going against common advice to never put silk in a dryer, try to get wrinkles out using gentler methods. The gentlest option of all is to use gravity. Simply hang the silk item from a padded hanger out of direct sunlight and wait for gravity to pull out the wrinkles. A similar method uses steam to release wrinkles from silk. Hang the item from a padded hanger in a bathroom before taking a hot shower. With the door shut, the accumulated steam in the room should help get the wrinkles out of silk.
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Alternatively, use an electronic garment steamer on the coolest setting or an iron also on the coolest-possible setting along with a press cloth between the silk and the iron. You can use steam with the iron if you're confident the iron won't drip; otherwise, mist the silk with a fine spray of water from a spray bottle.
Use a Low-Heat Setting on the Dryer
One reason experts warn against putting silk in a dryer is that heat can damage silk. If your dryer has a no-heat, low-heat, cool or air-fluff setting, you can try dewrinkling silk using that setting without the risk of heat damage. Keep the drying time as short as possible, checking the item every five to 10 minutes to see if the wrinkles have lifted. Remove the item as soon as the wrinkles are gone.
Other Dryer Precautions
Another reason putting silk in a dryer is risky is that the agitation of the dryer can damage silk's delicate fibers. There is a risk of fibers getting snagged and also of the silk's surface texture becoming rough and losing its sheen. Keep agitation as well as the time in the dryer to a minimum by putting the wrinkled silk item in the dryer by itself. For a small silk item, consider putting it in a lingerie bag to reduce the risk of snagging.
When Not to Use a Dryer for Silk
Never put a wrinkled silk item in a dryer that does not have a no-heat, cool, low-heat, air-fluff or similar setting. It's also inadvisable to use a dryer, even one with a low-heat setting, for silk items that are especially valuable to you or especially delicate. Don't use a dryer for silk items that are embellished – for example, with embroidery, lace, fringe, beading or sequins. For these types of silk items, use one of the gentler methods to remove wrinkles or consult a professional dry cleaner.