How to Clean Silk Pillowcases

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If you’re tapped into the world of haircare or know not to sleep with wet hair, you might own (or be interested in owning) a silk or satin pillowcase. Because silk and satin don’t absorb moisture from your hair, sleeping on a pillowcase made from either material can help your hair retain moisture and prevent breakage. That’s especially important for people with curly or textured hair, but straight-haired folks can benefit too!

However, delicate fabrics, like silk, can be intimidating to launder. But don’t fret just because you’re in unfamiliar territory. Washing your silk pillowcase isn’t tricky — it just involves a little extra care.

How to Clean Silk Pillowcases

You can wash a silk pillowcase either by hand or in a washing machine, so let’s go over both methods.

Washing a Silk Pillowcase by Hand

If you choose to wash by hand, you’ll need:

  1. a basin to fill with water
  2. a gentle detergent or shampoo
  3. somewhere to hang your pillowcase to drip dry.

Once you have all those, it’s time to clean:

  • Fill your basin, such as a sink or clean bucket, with cold water. 
  • Then, add a small amount of your cleaning agent to the water. This can be a gentle laundry detergent, but you can also use your shampoo if you don’t have a gentle detergent on hand. 
  • Then, place the pillowcase into the water and swirl it around in the water. You want to agitate the pillowcase enough to clean it, but don’t rub, scrub, or twist it.
  • After a couple minutes, rinse all the soap out of the pillowcase with cold water. 
  • You can pat the pillowcase dry with a clean towel if it’s sopping wet, but be sure not to wring it out. 
  • Then, you’ll want to hang it to drip dry somewhere out of direct sunlight. A drying rack works great if you have one, but if not, you can hang the pillowcase over your bathtub or shower. 

Washing a Silk Pillowcase in the Washer

You can also wash your silk pillowcase in your washing machine. However, there is a little more risk involved because a washing machine is never as gentle as handwashing. Still, washing your silk pillowcase is fairly simple with a washing machine:

  • Put your pillowcase in a mesh laundry bag to prevent it from being snagged or otherwise damaged by the washer’s drum. 
  • Use a gentle detergent and wash on a delicate cycle with cold water.
  • Follow the same instructions for drying as if you hand washed — silk should never, ever go into the dryer. Pat to absorb excess water with a towel, if needed, and hang to drip dry out of direct sunlight.

What about Satin Pillowcases?

Satin refers to the style of weave used to make a fabric, and some silk fabrics are made with a satin weave. If you’re looking at silk and satin pillowcases, it’s a bit of a rectangles and squares situation. Silk pillowcases can be satin, but not all satin pillowcases are silk. 

In fact, unless the product specifically states that it is made with silk, most satin pillowcases are likely not made with silk, but are instead made with polyester or nylon.

If you have a satin pillowcase that is not silk, it’s likely machine washable. To preserve the fabric, either turn the pillowcase inside out to wash or place in a mesh laundry bag. You’ll still want to use cold water on a delicate cycle and a gentle detergent. Hang or lay out to dry, out of direct sunlight. 

Do I Need to Dry Clean My Silk Pillowcase?

If you wear a lot of silk clothing, you might be accustomed to taking those delicate garments to the dry cleaners. You can certainly do the same with your silk pillowcase if you aren’t feeling confident in your at-home cleaning abilities. 

Be sure to check the tags on your silk pillowcase. There should be care instructions listed and if it dictates taking the pillowcase to the dry cleaners, it may be a good idea. Otherwise, you should be fine to wash your silk pillowcase at home.

Final Thoughts

Armed with the knowledge to clean your silk pillowcase properly, you can now sleep your way to frizz-free hair. For even further nighttime hair protection, check out our roundup of the best sleep caps.

Amelia Jerden

Amelia is a Senior Staff Writer for Sleepopolis. She primarily covers bedding and sleep accessory products in reviews, how-to guides, and more. You can also find her over on the Sleepopolis YouTube channel. Amelia is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with double majors in media and journalism and in dramatic art. Outside of work, Amelia can usually be found on a hike, traveling to a new city, or at her local thrift store.