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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Laundering Silk

By Dr. Laundry December 24, 2009

Q. I have a light gray silk outfit and the washing instructions for the top shell say wash by hand. (It is 100% silk).The instruction on the pants, however, say to dry clean. (Pants are 97% silk, 3% spandex.) The fabric in both seems to be the same. I am confused as to why I cannot also hand wash the pants. What risk would I be taking?

A. I am always very cautious when laundering silk anything. Even if it says handwash, it is so easy to end up with wrinkles and distortions that I believe it may be worth taking the items to the dry cleaners. If you want to go ahead, make sure you follow the care label instructions for washing and drying carefully.

The added spandex in the pants may be the reason that they changed the care instructions. This could change the way the silk will dry, making shrinkage or shape change a bigger issue. Hope this helps and let me know if you have any further questions.