How to clean your luxury women's silk scarf – The surprising secrets

The scenario – A silk Scarf Nightmare…

You love your scarf and wear it whenever you can. One day you notice a grease stain on your favourite detail. Is it sun cream? Sweat? Eurgh…. Who knows but you can’t wear it like this! What are you supposed to do!

Below we will show you what to do in a silk emergency like this in seven easy steps. But first a disclaimer…

Why does my silk scarf say ‘dry-clean only’?

A pure silk scarf is likely to have cost you a fair bit to buy and if it’s as gorgeous as a Furious Goose then you will probably want to treasure it for ever. It is for this reason that we would always recommend dry-cleaning your scarves where time and money allows. The UK Silk Organisation recommends dry-cleaning as the safest way to wash your foulard, pocket square or shawl and, of course, dry-cleaners have insurance should something go wrong.

What if I need to wear my scarf TONIGHT and don't have time to go to the dry-cleaners?

Although we legally have to advise you to dry-clean your scarf it is often the case that a stain is only noticed at the last possible moment. This happened at Furious Goose when we were preparing a sample to be sent to a photoshoot in Mayfair. We suddenly discovered that there was a noticeable grease mark on the otherwise beautiful silk scarf. We had no time to dry-clean the item so we had to roll up our sleeves and dive in. Here is how we cleaned the women’s silk scarf “Stags – Sunset” and returned it to good-as-new.

Step 1 – Cleanliness is close to Godliness

Clean your sink! There can be all sorts lurking in a sink and you are about to put a very expensive and delicate item of wearable art in there. Give it a thorough clean to remove any grease and then an even more thorough rinse with water to remove any residual chemicals.

Step 2 – Don’t get into hot water

Get the water temperature right. The warmer the water the more easily dirt particles are removed from a fabric. But with silk you have to be extremely careful not to use hot water. The temperature should be approximately body temperature or lukewarm. With silk you should always err on the side of caution.

Step 3 – Less is more

Add a tiny bit of the right liquid soap. Don’t use your normal detergent for washing your luxury silk scarves. After all you wouldn’t use carpet cleaner on your own hair would you! We chose Ecover Delicate which is recommended by Woolmark for use on fine wools and cashmere and it is also safe for silks and satins. It’s also important to only add a tiny dribble of soap. Again, err on the side of caution. 

Step 4 – Treat me gentle baby

Please, be gentle. This is silk not corrugated iron. Manipulate the fabric in slow and light motions with your hands. You can rub the area softly against itself to agitate the fabric but as always with silk don’t overdo it. Treat this as an opportunity for five minutes of mindful meditation. With our Furious Goose colours and the soap bubbles it looked amazing and felt lovely. So how long you massage your silk is up to you as long as you remember it needs a feather light touch.

Step 5 – Rinse, rinse and rinse again

One of the issues that commonly arises when people choose not to dry clean their scarf is that the texture changes and that beautiful, soft and silky feel is lost. This is usually due to excess soap and inadequate rinsing. We rinsed our silk square three times in COLD water.

Step 6 – The most pressing matter

Now, to return our scarf to a dry and silky state. You will probably be quite alarmed by how wet the scarf feels. It’s a bit weird, considering how much care you normally take over this luxury accessory, to see it sopping wet. Whatever you do DON’T be tempted to wring out the water. It will damage the shape and fabric unnecessarily. Instead find a large, clean bath towel, lay the scarf flat on this and then fold it over. With your hands press down on the folded towel up and down the length of the scarf. This will remove a lot of the water. Repeat this with new towels until the scarf is damp rather than soaked.

Step 7 – The final stage

You’re nearly there… the final stage is to crack out your iron. Check that the base is clean and turn the heat up to medium. Ensure that the steam function is on so that you don’t risk burning your silk – going from a stain to a burn is possibly the worst scenario! Methodically iron the scarf on the reverse. We find that it’s best not to press the hand-rolled hems as it can unnaturally flatten them. You will see the scarf return to its normal shiny and sensual glory as you progress across the scarf. Iron until the scarf feels dry to the touch. Then either hang it somewhere airy to complete the drying process or even better wear it!

Silk is tougher than it looks (it is actually stronger than steel as a thread) but it should be treated with care none-the-less. If properly looked after a silk scarf will last an entire lifetime and can even become a family heirloom. Look after yours!

 

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