Silk is made from the secretions of silkworms and was first discovered in China thousands of years ago. The Chinese kept the secret of silk to themselves until the 13th century. Silk has always been a luxurious fabric, but it does require special care. Though it is a strong fabric it is sensitive to light, to chemicals such as hairspray and bodily fluids such as perspiration.
Though silk is used most often for clothing it is also used for other purposes such as curtains and bed linens. The following tips apply to all types of silk items, though some of the risk of staining won’t apply to household linens.
To protect silk clothing always use any chemicals such as hairspray or perfume before getting dressed and allow these substances to dry thoroughly. Never use nail polish or nail polish remover while wearing a silk garment, because any spills will cause a permanent stain.
If your silk garment gets stained in spite of all your precautions there are steps you can take before turning to your local dry cleaner. The treatment depends on the stain. Fresh perspiration stains can be removed by washing the garment. For older stains you’ll need to sponge the area with diluted vinegar. For more stubborn discolorations, use a mixture of cream of tartar, crushed aspirin, and warm water. Apply to the stain for twenty minutes, and then rinse with warm water. Of course if the item is dry-clean only you really have no choice but to spend the money.
Always store silk in a dry dark place. This fabric is very sensitive to light and will develop discolored and faded areas if left unprotected. Do not store in plastic because the fabric needs to breathe. In the case of silk curtains it is wise to hang a barrier against the light between the curtains and the window. Protect your silk curtains with blinds or sheers.
Most but not all silk items require dry-cleaning. It is best to read the label and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to the letter. Remember to clean silk garments on a regular basis, and clean immediately in the case of soil.
By following these simple rules silk garments will retain their beauty and luster, providing pleasure for years to come.