Care for silk, anyone?

Care for silk, anyone?

Care for silk, anyone?

We all love silk sarees, but forget to maintain them. Taking care of your silk saree does not cost you a bomb, it simply asks for some pampering, writes Vinaya Govind.

Silk is a proud possession, a practical luxury in every woman’s wardrobe. Gorgeous, versatile, elegant and comfortable that it is, it lends a special grace to the woman wearing it.

With the monsoon fast approaching, it is time to hang them out for sometime before wrapping them in a material that provides air circulation, lest the season’s dampness may damage them. This will not only ensure that silk saris and garments stay looking good but also retain their original softness and sheen for years. Caring for silk doesn’t cost a bomb, as it is believed to be. Clearly, dry cleaning is not a must for all silks. With a few simple steps to your silk cleaning regimen, you can keep their shine and softness intact.


Do not machine wash silk saris. For the first wash, do not use detergent or soap. Soak the sari in warm water with a little salt dissolved in it. Rinse thoroughly in cold water or warm water to get rid of the salt. After about two such washes, you can use a mild soap for a wash. Do not soak the sari in detergent. Only a small amount of soap is sufficient as silk resists dirt and stains. Use your hands and delicately wash the sari, concentrating on the border areas. Never brush, lash or wring.

This would lead to stretching and weakening of the sari and eventually damage the zari. It is a good idea to wash the pallu and border separately in the beginning. Use a few teaspoons of white vinegar to the second rinse to prevent yellowing of white silk saris. Rinse finally with cold water. After washing, do not bundle the wet sari instead spread it out in full length and allow it to dry away from direct heat of the sun or any other source of heat. Dry heat will fade the garment. Do not machine dry as it can damage the silk due to friction and lack of humidity.

Tip: Use a dry towel to wrap the sari to remove excess water.

Treating stains

Though dry cleaning is the best way to get rid of hard stains, simple spots and stains can be treated if quickly attended to. To get rid of a stain immediately, soak that particular spot in a little petrol and brush softly.

Wash off with plain water. Perspiration stains can be removed by dabbing the area with a solution made of equal amounts of ammonia and water. To treat deodorant stains, first rinse the choli/sari in cold water then use the ammonia-water solution to dab the stained spots. Blood stains disappear with this solution. You can try a cold water-mild soap/shampoo solution too.

Lip stick stains can be removed by placing a masking tape over the stain and yanking it off instantly. Dab the spot with a little talcum powder to lighten the stain.

For old perspiration stains, a solution of vinegar and water is a sure shot (½ tsp vinegar to ½ cup of water). Sprinkle talcum powder on grease stains. Place a blotting paper over and beneath the stained spot and iron the stain.

Pressing instructions

It is recommended to press silk while it is still damp. If it is dry, use a spray bottle to dampen the garment. Ironing the sari placing it between two pieces of cloth or ironing it on the reverse side is safe to avoid damage to the fabric. While the heat should be either medium or low, make sure you don’t use steam, which can leave marks. Since saris are hand-woven, do not apply too much pressure at the seams as the silk threads may disintegrate.

More tips

* To keep your white silk bright, add a capful of hydrogen peroxide or a few drops of white vinegar diluted in water while rinsing. This can remove yellowing of the fabric.

* To keep your silk lasting long, do not return soiled garments to your wardrobe.

* Do not use deodorants, colognes, or perfumes on silk as they can damage silk.

* Avoid use of wire hangers as the rust from them can cause stains.

*Pins and brooches can leave permanent holes.

*Avoid use of plastic bags for silk as they trap moisture. This can cause yellowing and mildew. As the fabric needs aeration, wrap them neatly in a white cotton cloth, sari or thin pillow cases. Moth balls are a must in the wardrobe as silk is a favourite fibre of moths and bugs.

* Do not try stretching and pulling your silk garments if they are fitting you tight. This will weaken the fabric and cause sagging.

*Never wash silk with inferior quality clothes. Avoid using chlorine bleaches or any bleach that has enzymes or whiteners.

* Use padded hangers for silk saris and always use a cotton-covered ironing board.