Silk may be one of the most luxurious fabrics around, but with luxury comes some seriously high maintenance needs. Keeping silk looking wrinkle-free is a perpetual challenge, and one that leads to the big question of the day… can you iron silk?
Can you iron silk? According to some, the answer is a decided no. Or perhaps more accurately, you can but you really shouldn’t. Avoid the iron and leave the laundering to the professionals, say the iron naysayers. Which would be all well and good, but the cost of professional dry cleaning soon racks up.
So, is there an alternative? Can you safely iron silk at home? In a word, yes. But don’t think you can get away with the slapdash ironing approach you’re used to using on less high maintenance fabrics. Silk CAN be ironed, but you’ll need to learn and apply some very specific techniques if you want to do it safely.
Silk is one of the most delicate fabrics around, wrinkling easily and reacting in all kinds of unpleasant ways to heat, light, water, and chemicals. Ironing silk using an improper technique can lead to water spots, scorches marks, puckering, and 101 other undesirable effects.
Ironing silk using a proper technique (which we’ll go into shortly) will result in the same smooth, wrinkle-free finish you’d expect from ironing any other fabric.
When it comes to ironing silk successfully, the tools you use can be a deal-breaker. Ideally, use an iron with a silk/ delicates setting – it’ll take much of the guesswork out of the experience and ensure you don’t end up burning the fabric. If your iron doesn’t have a silk setting, it’s no great drama- just be sure to use a low temperature.
Regardless of the type of iron you have, it’s going to need to be spotless. Any dirt on the iron plate could easily transfer to the silk – and once it’s there, it ain’t going nowhere.
To clean the iron, start by creating a paste of one tbsp. (14.8 ml) of water and two tbsp. (13.8 g) of baking soda. Spread the paste over the iron plate (obviously, make sure the iron is off before starting), scrub lightly to remove any build-up, then wipe with a damp cloth to remove the residue.
Keeping your iron to a low heat is crucial when it comes to ironing silk. Avoid the highs and aim for a temperature of around 300 F.
If your iron comes with a silk/ delicates setting, use it. Otherwise, stick to a low temperature to avoid any unfortunate disasters.
So, we’ve established you’ll need to use a sparkling clean iron set to a low heat. But are there any special considerations to be made about what you iron your silk garments on?
When it comes to ironing silk, any old ironing board will do. You will, however, need to make a couple of small adjustments to it before starting. Create a cotton barrier between the silk and the board by covering the latter with a clean, neutral or white-colored cotton sheet. If you’re ironing large pieces (bed sheets, curtains, etc.), it can also be helpful to set the ironing board up next to a table so you have a flat surface to transfer the pressed areas onto – this will stop any new wrinkles developing while you turn your attention to the other sections.
Silk shouldn’t be sopping wet when it’s ironed, but neither should it be bone dry. If you’re ironing the garment fresh from the wash, squeeze any excess water away (be very gentle as you do this, and avoid any temptation to wring it out) before wrapping it in a thick, absorbent towel. The aim is to leave the silk just a little damp but not wet.
If you don’t want to wash the garment before ironing, simply fill a spray bottle with water and lightly mist the surface of the entire garment.
Can you iron a silk dress? Sure… but the keyword is ‘carefully’. Use too high a heat, let the iron linger too long over any one spot, and that beautiful silk dress is likely to be anything but beautiful by the time you finish.
If your silk dress is your pride and joy, avoid any ironing disasters by sticking to this tried and tested method.
Is it safe to iron a silk blouse? Sure… providing you use best ironing practices and resist the temptation to prioritize speed over care.
To give your blouse the best chance of surviving the experience, be sure to:
Ironing a silk shirt needn’t be scary. Take it slow, steady, and carefully with this step-by-step guide.
Silk scarves are no different to any other silk garment. So sure, you can iron them… providing you follow the standard advice for ironing silk:
If you’re trying to figure out the best way to iron a silk scarf, this easy guide won’t disappoint:
Silk curtains can look stunning. They can also be a pain in the proverbial to keep smooth and wrinkle-free. If the curtains are in need of a clean, your laundry will stem press them for you as part of the dry-cleaning process. if they’re clean but wrinkled, grab a steam iron and get to work with this step-by-step home-ironing guide.
Top Tip for Ironing Silk Curtains
The above method will work for most silk curtains but don’t use steam on sheer silk curtains. Use a dry iron on a low heat instead.
If your silk pillowcases are looking a little wrinkled, restore their smooth finish with these top tips.
While it’s A-OK to iron a silk pocket square, you’re going to need to take some precautions to avoid ruining its dapper look. Cover the square with a clean, neutral piece of fabric to avoid direct contact with the iron, and only ever use a low heat. Most importantly, if the pocket square has a hand-rolled edge – leave it be! Iron the rest, but leave that little feature well alone.