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Why Does Silk Become Hard And Rough? Understanding The Cause
Why Does Silk Become Hard And Rough? Understanding The Cause

Listen to an audio transcription of this post

Key takeaways:

  • Silk stiffens from heat, harsh detergents, improper drying.

  • Prevent stiff silk: cold wash, minimal mild detergent, flat air dry.

  • Soften stiff silk: gentle rewash, use silk conditioner.

  • Blissy Wash gently maintains silk softness, pH-neutral.


Silk is known for being soft and smooth. So, why is yours getting rough and stiff? You don't have to toss your silk garments or replace them. There are ways to get your silk soft again. Read on to find out how.

How to soften silk? First, it helps to know why this delicate fabric gets stiff. Once you know the possible causes, you can take steps to stop this from happening.

Let's explore these causes in more detail. We'll also give tips on preventing stiffness and show you how to get silk soft again.

Common Causes of Stiff Silk

What makes silk clothing or pillowcases feel rough instead of smooth? A few factors include:

  • Water temperature

  • Detergent

  • Drying methods

Wrong water temperature

Do you wash silk items in hot water? That could be the issue. When silk is exposed to high heat, this causes the delicate fibers to become stiff.

Instead of being soft and smooth, silk fibers become rougher.

don't use warm water with silk

Wrong detergent

Did you know that silk has natural oils? When you wash silk with a detergent that contains harsh chemicals, these oils disappear.

Natural oils help silk maintain its softness. Chemicals in detergent that strip these away leave this delicate fabric feeling harder than it should.

Too much detergent

Worried about making your silk is as clean as can be? You could be using too much detergent.

Silk fabric doesn't need a lot of detergent when you wash it. Overdoing it with the suds can leave residue on silk garments or linens, causing them to become rough.

proper care for silk

Using a dryer

Do you put silk pillowcases or clothing in your dryer? Doing so can make silk rough.

Even on a low heat setting, the heat from dryers can take away the soft quality of these delicate fibers.

If you're going to tumble dry your silk, click here for tips on minimizing heat damage.

Drying in direct sunlight

Letting the sun dry your silk might seem better than putting it in the dryer. But sunlight exposure has a similar effect.

The sun's rays give off too much heat. This causes silk fabrics to become hard as they dry.

air dry delicate fabrics inside

How Can You Prevent Stiff Silk? Try These Tips!

The good news is that you can take steps to protect silk from getting rough. And it doesn't take a lot of time or effort. Just use these tips to keep your silk fabrics feeling comfortably smooth.

Wash in cold water or warm water

Skip the hot water. Instead, wash silk items in cool water (or lukewarm, at the warmest). You can hand wash silk in a clean basin. Or you can do machine washing on the gentle cycle.

Use the right detergent in the right amount

Choose carefully, so you don't use the wrong detergent. Avoid using any harsh chemicals. Use a pH-balanced mild detergent that's safe for silk fabric.

Watch how much you use. Even when using gentle detergent, make sure you're not putting in too much. If you're hand washing, give your silk fabric a thorough rinse to remove residue.

use a mild detergent when washing silk fabric

Lay silk flat to dry

Now, what about drying silk? Avoid direct sunlight and the dryer. When drying silk, lay it flat, but keep it out of the sun.

Make sure the surface is clean, and let your silk air dry. This takes longer than the dryer or direct sunlight. But it also keeps your silk feeling soft.

Get Your Silk Soft Again

How can you get the stiffness out of silk? Keep the following in mind to restore shine and softness to these delicate fabrics.

Rewashing silk

Wash silk again to remove roughness. But you might need to adjust the setting on your washing machine. Try a lower setting than what you normally use. And remember to use a gentle detergent.

If you hand wash silk pillowcases or other itemsuse lukewarm water or cool water. Rinse thoroughly before letting the silk air dry.


how to soften silk

Handle silk with care when washing and drying:

  • Don't wring silk to get rid of excess water, since this can damage the fibers

  • Avoid any rough treatment that puts silk at risk of losing its smooth, soft texture

  • Lay silk flat instead of hanging it to drip-dry

  • Iron silk on the lowest heat setting

Choosing the right products

What products are safe to use on silk clothing and other items? Always check labels, of course. But you can try using silk conditioners to help restore softness. Do not use a fabric softener on silk, as this can leave a residue that degrades the fabric over time.

use blish silk wash

Benefits of Blissy Wash

Blissy Wash offers a great way to clean silk and keep it soft. This detergent has a pH-neutral formula that makes it safer to use than alkaline detergents.

Just wash silk on a low setting in your machine, or wash it by hand with Blissy Wash to get the best results. This gentle detergent also offers the following benefits:

  • It's hypoallergenic

  • It's safe for all skin types

  • It's naturally scented and plant-derived

Now you know what to do when silk feels stiff. And you also understand the importance of proper care for all silk items. This helps prevent silk from becoming hard and rough.

Whether you're washing a silk pillowcase or a silk garment, Blissy Wash can help this delicate fabric maintain the softness and smoothness it's known for.

View Sources

  • Tonti, L. (2022, February 7). Smooth as: how to care for your delicate silks. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2021/nov/30/smooth-as-how-to-care-for-your-delicate-silks
  • Samaha, B. (2022, August 25). How to wash silk at home like a pro. Harper’s BAZAAR. https://www.harpersbazaar.com/fashion/trends/a35409048/how-to-wash-silk/
  • Chadha, T. (2022b, September 5). How to wash and care for silk clothing, according to a laundry expert. Martha Stewart. https://www.marthastewart.com/1517433/how-wash-and-care-silk

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