Extend the life of your silk clothing and deter damaging moth larvae by following the advice below:
Silk comes from the cocoon of the silkworm, the larva or caterpillar of the silk moth in China, Northern India, Korea and Japan. The practice of breeding silkworms for silk production has been in place in China for thousands of years. The silkworm is predominantly fed on mulberry leaves.
Silk is an elegant fabric and relatively expensive. As such people are sometimes daunted by the level of care required to maintain silk garments. However, following care advice labels is all that is needed to keep your silk garments excellent condition for years.
Always check the manufacturer’s care label to ascertain whether your silk garment is suitable for hand washing, machine washing or dry cleaning only.
Silk clothes should be hand washed in either cool or lukewarm water using a mild detergent, non-alkaline soap or specialist cleaning product for silk. Bleach or other ‘pre-wash’ soaking products should never be used. To remove the risk of colours running wash each garment separately and keep the temperature of the water relatively constant throughout the wash. Avoid soaking garments, and to revive faded colours a little white vinegar can be used in the first rinse stage. Do not soak garments for more than a few minutes. Rinse in cool water and avoid wringing the clothing as this can damage the fibers of the silk. To start the drying process lay the garment flat on a clean dry towel and roll up the towel gently, pressing as you go to remove excess water. Then hang the silk garment on a padded hanger – avoid untreated wood or metal hangers which may mark or stain the freshly washed clothing! Avoid direct heat or sunlight when drying to prevent a ‘yellowing’ of the silk fabric.
Always use a ‘delicates’ programme on your washing machine and a mild detergent. Avoid machine washing mixed fiber garments or highly detailed / trimmed silk clothing and always avoid detergents that are described as biological or containing brightening agents. Place your silk garment in a mesh bag to avoid any ‘snagging’ during the washing process. The wash temperature should be 30 degrees and the spin cycle should be kept slow and short in duration. For drying, follow the care advice for hand washing above. Never tumble dry.
Select a dry cleaner that specializes in the cleaning of silk. The dry cleaning process and solvents used as part of the cleaning process will eradicate any moth eggs or larvae that may be present on silk clothing.
It is always best to use a good specialist dry cleaner to remove stains or marks on silk clothing. If attempting to do so at home, rinsing in a weak ammonia or white vinegar solution can be effective however, always avoid putting water on the stain – water can leave permanent marks on the garment and worsen the problem!
You may not need to iron or can reduce the amount of ironing required by hanging your silk clothing whilst still damp (not wet!). While your silk clothing is still slightly damp, use a very low / silk temperature setting on your iron, and if the garment has dried completely, damp it with a fine mist spray to moisten the fabric.
Always do the main ironing with the clothes inside-out. Where you need to iron the ‘right-side’ of the fabric, always iron through a clean white cloth. Steaming is an effective alternative to ironing.
Silk garments should be stored clean – this is important because clothes moth larvae feed on human and animal hair and skin, and they are also particularly attracted by food stains and any residual from perspiration.
We recommend that silk clothes are stored neatly folded storage bags.
If you are storing your silk clothing for a long period we recommend that you periodically shake the clothing and air in bright light to deter any potential moth larvae settling. They hate disturbance and light!
Check out our post on How to Care for Silk.
At Moth-Prevention.com we provide a number of solutions to both eradicate moths and their larvae, as well as prevent further moth damage to your clothing.