Can You Iron Silk? How to Iron a Silk Dress Without Ruin It

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.

What Happens When You Iron silk?


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.

What To Iron Silk With?

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.

What Temperature Should I Iron Silk?

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.

What Iron Setting For Silk

If your iron comes with a silk/ delicates setting, use it. Otherwise, stick to a low temperature to avoid any unfortunate disasters.

What Do You Iron Silk On?


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.

Can You Iron Silk When Wet?

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?


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.

Ironing a Silk Dress

If your silk dress is your pride and joy, avoid any ironing disasters by sticking to this tried and tested method.

  • Step 1 - Take a quick look at the base of the iron. If you see any dirt or red rust stains, give it a gentle scrub with a baking soda and water paste. Wipe away the paste with a damp cloth and allow it to dry. Once it’s done that, set it to the lowest heat setting. Lay a clean cotton sheet over the ironing board.
  • Step 2 - Lay the dress over the sheet. Press the iron against a small patch of the silk (preferably in an inconspicuous place). If it sticks or singes, reduce the temperature even further.
  • Step 3 - Press the dress in small sections, working from the bottom to the top. Allow the pressed section to hang over the edge of the board or, if you have a table next to the ironing board, lay it flat across the surface.
  • Step 4 - Turn the dress over and press the other side. Once you’ve finished, leave the dress to cool on the board before hanging it up.

Tip Tips for Ironing a Silk Dress

  • Iron the dress inside out
  • If you come across a particularly stubborn wrinkle, brush the fold back and forth with quick, firm hand movement until it disappears.
  • Don’t feel you need to iron the entire dress: press only the areas that are wrinkled.

Is it Safe To Iron a Silk Blouse?


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:

  • Clean the iron before use.
  • Set up a cotton barrier between the blouse and the ironing board to stop any colors from the board transferring to the silk.
  • Dampen the blouse before starting.
  • Iron the matte backside of the silk rather than the shiny surface.
  • Test a small patch of fabric before proceeding – if the iron sticks, lower the heat even further.
  • Don’t let the iron linger too long on any one area.
  • Iron from the bottom up.

How To Iron a Silk Shirt

Ironing a silk shirt needn’t be scary. Take it slow, steady, and carefully with this step-by-step guide.

  • Step 1 - Either hand wash the shirt beforehand or spray it lightly with water. The silk should be slightly damp when you start.
  • Step 2 - Select the lowest heat setting (or the silk/ delicates setting if available) and the highest steam setting on the iron. The steam will help remove any stubborn wrinkles or folds from the silk.
  • Step 3 - Turn the shirt inside out and layer a thin press cloth over the area you’ll be ironing. This will help prevent the iron scorching or soiling the silk fibers. If you don’t have a press cloth, a clean, neutral-colored handkerchief, dishcloth or towel will do.
  • Step 4 - Press the iron briefly over the cloth before removing. Let the area cool before moving onto the next section.
  • Step 5 - Once you’ve finished ironing, let the shirt cool before removing it from the ironing board. Give it a gentle shake to release any lingering folds. Hang on a clean, padded hanger to preserve the fresh, wrinkle-free look.

Top Tips For Ironing Silk Shirts

  • Only iron the areas that need it – if it’s not wrinkled, leave it be.
  • Avoid pressing the iron into one area for too long.
  • Use a pressing motion rather than a back and forth ironing action. Ironing up and down in long strokes risks stretching the silk and leaving it misshapen.

Can You Iron a Silk Scarf?


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:

  • Don’t iron silk if it’s bone dry. Spray it evenly with water if you don’t want to wash it beforehand.
  • Clean the iron before you start.
  • Overlay the ironing board with a clean, undyed sheet.
  • Use a press cloth between the iron and the silk.
  • Don’t let the iron linger in one place for too long.

How To Iron a Silk Scarf

If you’re trying to figure out the best way to iron a silk scarf, this easy guide won’t disappoint:

  • Step 1 - Make sure the scarf is slightly damp before you start. Clean the iron, then turn the steam to its highest setting and the heat to its lowest. Lay a cotton sheet over the ironing board.
  • Step 2 - Lay a clean press cloth over the area of the scarf to be ironed. Gently press the iron downwards over the cloth. Lift the iron and let the area cool before moving on to another area of the fabric. Keep the scarf taut as you move between sections to avoid any new wrinkles developing.
  • Step 3 - Let the scarf cool on the ironing board before removing it.

Best Way To Iron Silk Curtains


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.

  • Step 1 - Vacuum the curtains using the most appropriate attachment on your vacuum cleaner. Take the curtains down and mist the fabric with a fine spray of water.
  • Step 2 - Lay a cotton sheet over the ironing board. Place one of the curtains, back facing up, on top. Lay a cotton press cloth over the curtain.
  • Step 3 - Turn the heat setting of the iron to its lowest and the steam setting to its highest.
  • Step 4 - Start ironing any wrinkled areas using a downward pressing motion. Don’t let the iron linger over any section for more than 30 seconds. Allow any ironed areas to hang over the edge of the ironing board or transfer to a table if possible.
  • Step 5 - Once you’ve finished pressing the curtain, let it cool before rehanging. Repeat the process with the 2nd curtain.

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.

Can You Iron Silk Pillowcases?

If your silk pillowcases are looking a little wrinkled, restore their smooth finish with these top tips.

  • Turn the pillowcase inside out before ironing.
  • Use a clean iron on a low heat (or a silk/ delicates setting if your iron has one)
  • Iron section by section using a downward pressing motion.
  • If your iron doesn’t have a silk setting, lay a cloth between the silk and the iron.
  • Keep the iron moving (don’t let it rest on an area for more than 30 seconds) to avoid damaging the silk fibers.
  • Keep the silk taught as you iron to stop further wrinkles developing.

How To Iron a Silk Pocket Square


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.

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