Guide to caring for linen and silk

Do you love the idea of natural fabrics like linen, silk, and silk/cotton but worry about the care? 

Maybe you have been thinking of wearing more sustainable fabrics but just worry about taking the leap - these thoughts run through your mind….what if you get a mark on it a greasy handprint, I hate the cost of the dry cleaner.

I completely understand and believe me when I say i'm not that anal person that looks after everything and has Marie condoed all my draws - It is known I must spill something on my favourite silk top as soon as I put it on and left my last dress at the dry cleaner for 3 months…..

But I love these fabrics and my wardrobe is mostly made up of natural fabrics and really good quality knitwear. I have worn them through pregnancy, small children and all the rest. The advice I am giving comes from years of working instore with one of the most amazing Lyn Bilkey (who is literally the queen of handwashing) and my own experience.

Caring for your linen.

Linen is robust and easy wear, I have the Lizzie dress in natural and spilt mayo on the front! So here's my tip. The best thing to do is use a basic stain remover like sard soap. This is my go-to for beautiful fabrics, soap it up and carefully dab it on, working the suds out to a bigger circle, use lukewarm water and don’t scrub. Leave it for a few minutes then run the whole garment under water and either hand wash or pop in a garment bag in your washing machine - I use a cold wash for this.

If you have bright coloured linens do a patch test first and don’t leave to soak.

Linen and ironing

One of the first objections is to linen - oh but I don’t iron! Unless you must have a crisp linen look it doesn’t need to be ironed. The more you wear and wash linen the softer it becomes and the less creases you have, also embrace the crease it's what gives it a beautiful natural look.

When I do iron my linen I use a mid-high heat and lots of steam, for darker colours use a pillow slip in between. The trick to ironing is to add a bit of tension (i'll do a video on this shortly)

Caring for silk 

Silk is probably my most favourite fabric, it really is a luxury fabric, the cost has gone up hugely over the years as making silk is an intensive process. But no other fabric produces the most incredible colours and feel so soft on. When purchasing a silk garment it does need care but it is totally worth it!

I cold hand wash 90% off my silk garments, the only ones I don’t hand wash and dry-clean are brightly coloured prints on a white background as some can run or very very intense neon-like colours as they do fade.

Firstly just don’t wash it that much at all - Hang in the bathroom when you have a shower for a light steam and pop in the wardrobe and airing out is mostly all they need.

If you do need to wash use a very mild detergent and just a small amount - I use eco store, get the sink full of lukewarm water and swirl the laundry detergent around then dunk in and give a swish for a few minutes gently moving the garment around.  Empty sink and rinse garment with cold water - don’t wring it just softly rinse.

Softly get as much water as you can out then use a towel and roll the garment in the towel to get rid of excess water.

Lastly grab a clothes rack or hanger if it's a light weight silk garment and pop in the shade to dry.

Stain removal for silk garments

Firstly don’t freak out! Oil stains are the most common on silk and if it’s just a small one not to worry,  a hand wash will help and I find the stain generally fades over time.

Don’t spot clean - the first thing most people do is grab a cloth and start scrubbing the stain. This is what causes loss of colour and makes the stain more obvious. I will get a small amount of sard soap and start dabbing it on and move out to a bigger circle doing it lightly and carefully making sure not to scrub the mark when it's bubbly do a lukewarm handwash. Do a spot test first if unsure.

Lastly do not soak or use harsh cleaners like nappy san, this is where I have seen the most problems.

Would you like to know more about this topic? Comment below or send me a message

Emma x

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