Silk can be washed by hand, in the washing machine or through dry cleaning, depending on the manufacturer and the garment's specific care instructions. Some silk items can be thrown in the washing machine with other fabrics, but many suffer from fading and texture changes in the washer.
Always follow the care instructions provided by the manufacturer. These are often found on the garment's label, but they can also be discovered by contacting the company directly.
To hand-wash silk:
Test the water
Before washing silk by hand, test water and soap on a small, inconspicuous area of the garment to verify color fastness. If the color fades or smears, discontinue hand washing and have the item dry cleaned.
Submerge the silk
To hand-wash silk, submerge the garment in a tub of lukewarm water and laundry detergent. Swish the garment around in the tub for a few minutes, then extract and rinse it.
Hang it to dry.
In order to preserve the structural integrity of the silk, air-dry the silk; it should never be placed in a dryer.
To machine-wash silk:
Use the gentle cycle
Run the silk garment through the washing machine using cold water and the gentle cycle.
Let the silk air-dry
Hang it to dry afterward or spread it on a drying rack, because silk does not respond well to hot conditions.
Hand washing might be appropriate for silk garments that suggest, "dry clean." However, if the label says "dry clean only," the owner should avoid any method other than dry cleaning.